by Dennis Ensor
It’s a simple fact of life that it is far easier to destroy someone’s confidence than it is to build it up. Studies have shown that children must be praised at least seven (or as many as forty-eight) times to offset just one negative remark. What’s up with that? You’d think it would be one to one.
Perhaps it has something to do with the way we tend to internalize praise and criticism. We may see praise as something that is temporary about something we’ve done, whereas criticism is internalized as something more permanent about something we are—flawed.
Or possibly it has to do with the way we were raised. Many people, as children, seldom received praise when they did things right—that’s what they were supposed to do, but when they messed up in some way, the denigration began. It was often followed up by “I don’t know why I have to keep telling you this over and over” type statements—implying stupidity. And in the worst cases it was followed up by the “You’ll never amount to anything” treatment. What a curse it was to strap that mindset onto a child.
Once we get into the inferiority trench, our negative self-talk usually keeps us there. We run a constant stream of thoughts about being failures and undeserving of love and respect. We spend a large portion of our days feeling guilty, inferior and scared. On those occasional upward trends, our internal regulator decides that we might be getting to feel too good and put us back into place by sabotaging any progress we’ve made. Who do we think we’re kidding, anyway. Our life is miserable, as it should be. But the real reality is that it doesn’t have to be this way. A better life is possible–right now.
I’ve just recently come across the best action-specific advice I’ve ever seen on overcoming these self-destructive behaviors. It was written by Dr. Michele Borba (@micheleborba). She is a widely recognized parenting expert who has made over 100 appearances on national TV and has spoken on five continents and written several outstanding parenting books. Though most of her advice applies specifically to parenting young children, I’m convinced that her great lessons are just as applicable to older adults as well. (We’ve all got that child in us wanting to get out.)
For ease of access I’ve inserted a direct link to two articles I’ve found most helpful. The first The Kid Negativity Cure deals a lot with overcoming a “stinkin’ thinkin’” attitude. The second, Raising a “Can Do” Kid, gives you positive, proactive strategies to develop the right mindset in the first place. It helps you understand the important relationship balance between feeling worthy and competent when it comes to having an authentic and positive self-esteem.
If you are sick and tired of being in that cesspit, I say “It’s high time to get out.” It’s time to feel the joy of living—of breaking through the barriers that have robbed you of the joy and feelings of accomplishments you deserve. It’s time to rise above! Get started today.
Copyright © 2012, Dennis Ensor, all rights reserved. Read more from Dennis Ensor at www.muddypuddles.blog.com.