I’ve been reading a lot of great books lately, and the most recent one is “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie. I read the entire thing while on my flight to and from Minnesota last week.
By the end of the book, I had a cornucopia of mixed feelings.
One of my deepest feelings was that of personal shame and regret.
For so many years, I have been a self-righteous prick!
Coaching and teaching have been my profession since I was 18 years old, so I’ve been at this for over 17 years!
But, I’ve realized something…
I have criticized and condemned people along the way. I have talked poorly of others. I have used shame as a way to “motivate” others. I have posted many blogs with an “I’m right, you’re wrong” attitude. And, I have always had this dysfunctional need to tell others when they “lack integrity.”
The Psychology major in me knows that this self-righteous path is due in large part to my past and the hard experiences I have had to face…The choices I made that I once swore I would never do because “I’m better than that.”
The harder I fought my past, the harder I condemned and pointed fingers at people to make myself feel better.
Now, there are two sides to this coin. I sincerely wanted others to succeed and be better people, too. I wanted to help them avoid the mistakes I made. I wanted to live vicariously through them as redemption.
And so, I used condemnation and shame because it was the only way I knew how. I was given so much of it by other authority figures throughout my life, and I also gave it to myself tenfold daily.
So, here is my public apology to all of you, past and present, for ever condemning or criticizing you, and making you feel unimportant. While my intentions were sincere, my execution was lackluster, and even harmful.
Okay, what do we really need more of in this world?!
Yes, I know, that sounds really cheesy, but it is the truth!
How many comments on Facebook are negative? How many times do news reporters and show hosts criticize and condemn people? How often does your mother, father, husband, wife, boss, supervisor, customer, co-worker, friend, and perfect stranger remind you of the things you either did not do, did wrong, or need to do more of?!
How many times throughout the day are you reminded of all of your faults?!?!
And, how many times throughout the day are you appreciated, praised, or even just smiled at?!
It’s a chain reaction. The boss spills his coffee all over himself during traffic, so he takes it out on you in the office. You then take it out on your kid after picking him up from school. He then takes it out on his little sister during playtime. She then takes it out on your wife during storytime. So, then she takes it out on you as you’re both getting in to bed, and now there’s no “cuddle time” for you!
While you can’t control anyone else, you can control yourself.
When your boss rips you a new one at work because he’s pissed about something else unrelated to you, instead of taking it personally and inadvertently returning the poor favor to your kid, strive for understanding.
It’s too easy and too ingrained in all of us to jump to judgement and criticism. It’s natural for us to become defensive, but before you react, reconsider.
Change the reaction. Change the action. Change the course.
If instead you notice your boss’ coffee stained shirt and offer him your extra one in the car, and share in the frustration of spilled coffee in traffic with him, he will then be defused and realize he was too hard on you earlier. He then asks if you’d be interested in helping him lead the next project coming up, which could potentially be the foot in the door you need to move up in management. You then praise your son on his good grades after picking him up from school. He then helps his sister climb across the monkey bars and high-fives her efforts. She then snuggles with your wife during storytime. So, your wife then “snuggles” with you in bed!
Way better day!!! 🙂
So, here’s some new “life rules” that I am practicing daily:
1. Never criticize, condemn, or complain about anyone or anything. Ever.
2. Give honest and sincere appreciation, and do it often.
3. Avoid any and all arguments, especially ones you can win.
4. Ask meaningful questions, and avoid direct orders.
5. Let others save face.
6. Give others a good reputation to live up to! ❤
7. Be genuinely interested in others, and let them talk about themselves more.
8. If it’s not true, kind, AND helpful, then don’t say it.
We are internally driven by the need to feel important, and yet, we spend so much of our time telling and showing each other how unimportant we are.
What if, instead, we spent more time building each other up?!
What if we gave more benefit of the doubt? What if we smiled more? What if we walked away from an argument? What if we let someone else be “right?”
What if we strive for more understanding? More compassion? More love?!
Imagine…A world with more love!
Be good to each other.
“People will forget what you say, they will forget what you do, but they will never forget how you made them feel.”
~ Maya Angelou