There’s a dad I know who’s funny, but in a snarky and mean way. He teases people and puts them down. And he can be quite witty, so he gets a lot of laughs.
I’ve been healing some really old childhood pain. Some days, I feel so tender and raw. Like my precious heart is cracked wide open and the slightest hurt or criticism can send me reeling.
So when this dad commented on my outfit looking like “a homeless hipster,” I got pissed. And hurt. And then annoyed that his comment would impact me to the degree it did. I found myself wishing he would use his gift of quick wit in a more positive way.
It’s an easy target, to be mean with humor.
It takes more skill to be funny and kind. Even more skill perhaps to be funny without being crass at all. There’s a reason Jerry Seinfeld is a master of his craft.
Taking people down can feel easier than lifting them up.
It certainly doesn’t require any self-reflection to criticize others. It allows you to project your pain onto others without considering or healing the original source of that pain.
In my own marriage, I’ve noticed it’s far easier (certainly more automatic!) for me to criticize my husband than to appreciate him. That’s no bueno.
It’s easy to see people’s flaws.
To know how we want others to change to please us or suit our needs. It’s simple to tell people what they should be doing differently.
It’s not as obvious to notice what they’re already doing well. To build them up, to appreciate them exactly as they are or encourage them to grow by seeing how they can do even more of what they do well.
With systems too, it’s far simpler (and lazier!) to point out what’s not working than it is to find (and implement!) a lasting solution.
It’s easy to say what’s wrong with Corporate America, with patriarchy, with capitalism, with diversity, equity and inclusion. With the lip service paid to international women’s day.
It’s easy to stand on the sidelines and point out flaws.
It’s much harder to get on the field and try to move the ball forward.
It takes focus and creativity to envision an alternative. And it takes discipline to make it happen.
In 1:1 coaching or therapy, it’s almost a joke amongst practitioners that if you ask a client; “What would you like?” They inevitably tell you about everything they don’t like.
We go on and on about what we don’t want. Even knowing this truth, I fall into the same trap myself, pretty much every time.
We’re used to beating the drum of what’s not working.
The key to a truly satisfying life is to focus on what you do want and crystallize that vision.
Try it right now.
Pick an area of your life you’re not pleased with; your health, a relationship, your career. I bet you could rattle off ten things you don’t like about that area.
You could get yourself all riled up.
If I said; “You have two minutes to put yourself in a downward spiral by listing everything that’s wrong – Go!” You’d do it in a cinch.
But if I said you have two minutes to put yourself in an upward spiral by listing everything that’s right…how easily could you get into that energy state?
If you’re like me, not that easily.
That was the power of Martin Luther King and his speech “I have a dream.” There was so much that was hard about being black in America (and still is). And yet, he put his focus and attention on the vision of what he wanted to create.
There is true power in getting clear on what you want.
On focusing all your attention on solution energy, not problem energy.
So, for today, instead of complaining, criticizing or taking other people down, see if you can envision what you’d like instead.
Spend 5-10 minutes writing down what you want in a specific situation or circumstance.
Notice how it’s perhaps a bit harder to train your muscles to focus on the positive. And have the discipline to stay with it.
Build up your dream. Don’t poke holes in your current roof.
And if some goofball tells you that your outfit looks like a “homeless hipster,” just turn it into an inspirational blog. And strut your stuff.
Don’t let the negative fools take you down!
May you create work and a life you love by focusing on the good,