We swallow greedily any lie that flatters us, but we sip only little by little at a truth we find bitter. ~Denis Diderot
It is human nature to seek recognition, enjoy appreciation, be elated when praised and be ecstatic when put on a pedestal as an achiever. It is also true that we are hurt when criticized, annoyed when admonished, depressed when berated and livid when we perceive ourselves to be insulted. The reality is that as individuals we have to accept the fact that we will be subject to all these and many more such emotions in our lives for none of us is perfect. Yet a little introspection will reveal that most times when we are recipients of positive observations even if it borders on flatter we are lustily drink of it and if subject to anything negative we attempt to reject, rationalize, ignore and if forced to, swallow it with diffidence.
Temperance is a virtue that is critical for every individual to have a balanced view of ones own self. The reality can then be better appreciated, accepted and acted upon. To begin with our achievement however big or small needs to be savored without us gloating over it as if it is the only thing in life. If we do not perceive ourselves as achievers we tend to long for any positive comment and then drum it up to believe that we have attained success of rare proportions. The truth is that with every achievement we are actually raising the bar for us to perform even better. This is actually a tough call since we may be limited by our own weakness and fear of underperformance. Despite this even if we know that the praise we get is disproportionate to our achievements we lap it up with great relish.
Criticism is something that is always a very bitter pill to swallow. Even if it is sugar coated, the bitterness and the resentment is not easy to overcome. The biggest problem is our inability to stare at our misdemeanors squarely for it is both embarrassing and often a trifle shameful to handle. Therefore our way of coping up when criticized is to rationalize and justify our act often remonstrating and protesting indignantly. We are just not ready to accept blame, acknowledge our faults nor look objectively at the feedback when it is negative. While there may be rare times we are unfairly made victims of negative criticism the truth is that there could be a fair amount of truth in most other negative feedback that is received by us. Yet we tend to stall its impact, side step the core issues and underplay its seriousness.
If we see each day as being a new opportunity to improve ourselves we would be able to have a balanced perspective of the positive and negative feedback we receive. Our virtues when recognized must be viewed as strengths that we can utilize even more effectively and the blips that our pointed out can be studied with more calmness and equanimity so that we can work on eliminating all that actually hampers our performance and our personal growth.
Remember: “You can bend it and twist it… You can misuse and abuse it… But even God cannot change the Truth.” Michael Levy
- What is the one criticism about you that you felt was
- Harshly said to you
- Was unjustified
- Was done with malicious intent
- Was hurtful but true
- When and how did you praise
- Your spouse
- Your colleague
- Your neighbor
- Your best friend
- Someone whom you are not too cordial with
- A stranger
For the following situations ask yourself how you would react. Your options are
- Yes I will
- Am not sure what I would do
- No I won’t
The situations are as under:
- If I had the opportunity to fudge my marks in an exam I would _____
- If I found a wallet with no identification marks but containing a huge wad of money I would give it to charity_____
- Your neighbor is a very irritating character. One midnight he rings the bell and asks for painkiller for a tooth ache. Would you give it if you have it? ____
- Your best friend at work wants you to lie for him/ her so that he/ she can claim to be sick and go out of town for a pleasure trip during the peak season which is against company policy and would put pressure on the other employees. Would you do it? ___
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