I think most people like receiving praise. Not necessarily in front of a large crowd with the spotlight shining down but to simply be told you did something well is more than enough.
Many people go around thinking they’re subpar and for them praise serves as a reminder that they’re doing okay. It can be difficult to tell yourself that you did a good job, perhaps it feels big headed or self indulgent.
Feedback on the other hand can be difficult to take from others but easy to give to yourself.
It feels good to be told that you did something well but it isn’t always easy to hear what you need to work on from other people.
Afterall, how could this person know what you’ve been through and have they considered that you’re doing your best.
This observation of how we take in praise and feedback is simply a reminder not to cling too much to opinions and perceptions, not even even your own.
Most of us start out with big dreams of what we want to do with our lives. Then slowly, bit by bit, as the years go on we start to settle.
We settle from setbacks that lower our self-belief until you’ve convinced yourself that they were unrealistic anyway.
Other times you have people tell you that your dreams are too big, that they won’t work and that you need to be realistic.
Sometimes you’re aware of it but other times you have no idea until years have gone by and you’re wondering what happened to those dreams you used to have.
I wrote about boundaries in a recent post but upon reflection I had more to add.
Sometimes even when you are aware of a persons boundaries and you know it has nothing to do with you, you still try to overstep the mark. A person will do it in small or subtle ways because they are curious whilst also being aware they have to tread carefully.
But when you catch them overstepping in the moment they’re likely to respond by telling you that they didn’t mean it or that they didn’t relaise that it was an issue. perhaps they try to tell you that there is no issue at all.
When it comes to over stepping a boundary it’s really about respect. When you can see a clear boundary you have to decide if it is more important to follow that curiosity or to simply respect what the other person does and doesn’t want
There’s no need to skirt around the issue.
Being clear with your words might seem like a simple thing to do. Yet if you reflect on conversations you’ve had and the things you’ve said recently you might find times when you haven’t been so clear.
It might have been because you weren’t really thinking in the moment but upon reflection you can see that you should have chose your words more carefully.
However, it could also be that the words you chose in the moment weren’t totally honest. Maybe you were scared to say how you really feel.
Either way what ends up happening is you’re not happy with the response you get from the person you were talking to. It’s not because you didn’t agree with them but instead because their response wasn’t addressing what you really had to say.
Next time try being a little clearer and say what you really mean.
In some situations you might find that that there is a discord between what you want and the outcome you get.
If you’re unsure if this applies to you, think about some of your recent encounters with people.
What did you want?
What was the outcome?
Were you happy with the way things turned out?
It’s worth noting that what you want and the outcome don’t have to align completely. Sometimes you end up happy with the way things turn out even when it’s different to what you originally wanted.
But when you find yourself discontent with the outcome, the reason more often than you might think is your choice of words.
People often talk about how it’s good to open up, to let people know how you feel and be vulnerable.
However, it’s important to add if you don’t take the time to word things thoughtfully the outcome can be just as unhelpful as it would be if you say nothing at all.
A message I’m always keen to get across is that as much as it’s important to open up, what matters even more is that you do it with the right people.
For some that may be obvious but others might find themselves wondering who qualifies as ‘right’.
It really depends on the individual.
However, there are a few questions you can ask yourself like…
How do I want to feel when I open up?
What do I want from the person I open up to?
Then come up with the answers and think about the people you know that align with this.
For example, if what you want from the person you open up to is emotional support and a listening ear, it’s no use opening up to someone who is just going to tell you what to do. Or if you want to feel calm and supported it’s no use talking to someone that leaves you feeling anxious.
Further to that think about your past experiences. Can you think of a time you opened up to someone and regretted it? Can you think of a time you were glad you opened up to someone?
I’ve found that these types of situations, when you know what you want, you’ll know what you’re willing to accept.
Sometimes that means being a little more picky about who you choose to open to.
One of the easiest things you can do is to be kind.
It can come in many forms but I think it is often the smallest things that have the most impact.
It can be easy to think that you need to go above and beyond and make some kind of grand gesture but that’s not the case.
Kind is described as ‘having or showing a friendly, generous, and considerate nature’.
It could come in the form of something small like smiling at a stranger, offering to help someone or even just listening.
You don’t need to be kind because you want something in return, do it because you like the type of world that kindness creates, lead by example.
Some people will never truly hear you when you speak no matter how hard you try.
In those circumstances the solution is never to try harder.
You might think that the harder you try they’ll eventually come around and hear you out. But the thing is some people aren’t interested in being wrong.
Some people aren’t interested in hearing a perspective that contradicts their own.
And even if they realise that they were wrong and the information you shared had changed their mind, they’re more likely to dismiss that.
When a person is more interested in being right than being open to new information, it might be a waste of time trying to get them to listen.
You’ve probably had the experience of feeling totally fine but as soon as you see or hear about what other people are doing (or have done) suddenly you feel a sense of lack.
It’s like if you spend your Friday night at home watching a movie and painting your nails but the next week everyone is talking about this amazing party they went to saying things like ‘it was so good’ or ‘you should have been there’ you might end up believing it.
That’s an example of the mind almost playing tricks because at the same time we’ve all been somewhere and known that we’d have been just as content (and in some cases happier) staying at home.
I guess sometimes it feels good to do what everyone else is doing, it brings of sense of belonging and as humans that is something we all seek.
But it’s so important to consider how you enjoy spending your time.
If planting flowers, cooking and writing poetry is time well spent for you, it shouldn’t matter what other people are doing.
The last thing you want is to find yourself belonging in a space where you aren’t even being yourself or doing things enjoy simply to avoid ‘missing out‘.