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How many positive comments cancel a negative one

Friday, January 15, 2010

warning -- this is kind of rambly today.

Seems like lots of us tend to glomp onto negative comments -- seems like those snide negative comments are coated with super-glue, and the positive are like post-it notes.

And yet, the positive reinforcement is so much more effective than the put-downs. Whether with my dog or my daughters, praising them when they do well encourages the same behavior again. A criticism seems to make them not want to try anymore. And if I tell them what not to do, without telling them what TO do, they might replace the bad behavior with something even worse.

A friend of mine put together his own little point system, where he kept track of good choices and behavior. For example, he might give himself 5 points for passing up the free dessert at the banquet we were attending. This positive reinforcement led to a 30 pound loss, better health, better self-esteem.

I led a seminar where we discussed a somewhat controversial proposal. I had the group brainstorm and list all the positive aspects. The list grew and grew as ideas sequed off other ideas. Then we listed all the neutral aspects. By the time we were done with that, the list of negatives seemed pretty petty to everyone.

In Toastmasters, we are trained to evaluate with emphasis on positive, then 1-2 pinpointed suggested ways to improve (it should include how to do it better, not just criticism), then wrap up on a positive note.

And, I know that we see what we look for -- positives or negatives. It really is a choice whether to see what someone does right or see what someone does wrong.

So, I know positive works. And yet, I've had a negative voice in my head -- far more critical of myself than anyone else. Echoes of other peoples' past voices that I have glomped onto.

But, I'm here to tell myself -- that was then. And the new me is kind to myself. I record successes. I journal what I do well. I toot my horn. I love myself so that I burst to overflowing with love for others. And note that this is not 'I am going to do this in the future'. I have begun. I can do this. There is no failure -- just continuous improvement, no matter how small the steps may seem.

And while I am kind of curious -- how many positive, loving thoughts will it take to erase the negative ones that stuck like glue to me, whether they came from someone else, or just in my own head ------- I'll never really know. But I'm on my way, I've already made a ton of progress, I'm over the hump and it'll only get easier.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Mike - that is so cool that you referenced my blog.
    2824 days ago
    Great Post. I mentioned your blog posting on my blog (
    g) on this subject.

    I hope that more people take the time to be more positive (especially around children).

    Mike J.
    2831 days ago
    Great post. Didn't seem a bit rambly to me!
    2959 days ago
    I am continually trying to stay positive and therefore look for the positive (funny, how all of a sudden when you do that it seems like everything is great and nothing is wrong!) I think it will be a constant struggle for me (the negative pull is so strong - particularly since we are a society that focuses on the negative and problem solving) but as long as I keep fighting back I think I'll be alright.

    Thanks for the paragraph about the Toastmaster process as well. That is one thing I cannot do (public speaking) but have been toying with joining Toastmasters so I can do it (or at least do it without convulsing or sobbing). It really seems to be the right way to go now.
    2961 days ago
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