What if you spend months writing an A paper, but get an F? What if, instead, when you saw your grade, your eyes blinking tears, a dove gently perches on your shoulder, startling you, nuzzling soft feathers against your neck?
I used to crumble with criticisms. They crushed me, kept me small, snatched away my dreams of a math PhD. A week or two ago, one new Voice writer wrote about pain stemming from others’ stomping her dreams. I sympathized—deeply.
So, encourage others—always. Weeks ago, I discovered that a barista wants to run a marathon. So, I cheer her on—every chance. I promised a gift, pointed out marathon apps, beg to hear about her gym routine. I relish in her win.
Not only do I celebrate baristas, I befriend bank reps. I phone banks for Christmas credit increases—and other fun stuff. Whenever I hear friendly voices, I pass on praise to supervisors. Even Timothy at dreadful Revenue Canada—of all places—got kudos for his kindness.
But sometimes I slip. Sadly, we all do.
At my last visit to the optometrist, I bit my tongue. I stopped myself from complaining about an optometry assistant. She seemed off kilter, strange, unsure of herself. I feared her.
Months later, when I returned, the assistant told me her name: Katrina. So, I broke out singing “Walking on Sunshine” by Katrina and the Waves. As we laughed, she turned on Spotify, and “Walking on Sunshine,” to our surprise, played.
I saw it as a sign.
At the end of the session, Katrina shared that I had been her first patient at that clinic. Oh, first day jitters! If I had complained, I could have crushed her spirit—at least lingered as a bad memory. I vowed to withhold criticisms. Besides, Katrina tests eyes like a Kimble A-student.
The moral? Do less complaining, more cheerleading. Cheering on others fends off foes. I dreamed last night that FBI agents swarmed me, ready to pounce. I crumpled, cowered, on the ground. But a bunny hopped up and nuzzled my nose, followed by a kitten, and then a chipmunk. Now I was ready for the FBI, a grin widening on my face. We handle life’s worst easily with nuzzles and smiles.
Glenn R. Schiraldi helps you build up yourself and others in his book The Resilience Workbook:
- Act in ways that bring you and others happiness: “What we regularly think and do accounts for 40 percent of our happiness…. We can actually program the brain for happiness…” (p. 98).
- So, how should you act?
- First, encourage others: “To waitresses … say, ‘Thanks for your help.’ … If service is especially good, tell the supervisor. This makes three people feel good: the appreciated worker, the supervisor, and yourself” (p. 103).
- Second, avoid criticizing yourself or others: “Difficult experiences, such as living with constant criticism, can change the way we view ourselves. Restoring … self-esteem then is an important part of the healing process” (p. 107).
- Third, encourage yourself, build yourself up, heal yourself, with self-talk: “People with self-esteem talk to themselves differently than those who dislike themselves” (p. 114).
- Fourth, “learn to love unconditionally. If you did not learn how to do this from you parents, you can still learn to unconditionally love yourself” (p. 109).
- By doing all the above, you grow: “Growing … is the process of … elevating both self and others” (p. 109).
So, build up yourself and others. Why? For anything you say or do, one person can judge you favorably; the other, harshly—and both hold some truth. So, choose the bunnies, kittens, and chipmunks walking on sunshine, nuzzling a nose.