The vast majority of us learn very early that we are expected to deal with the facts. In itself, this might not be such a terrible thing. The problem begins when we combine with this the idea that we also learn very early on where these facts come from. In general, we are not learning that facts come from testing hypotheses and finding evidence for information, but that facts are synonymous with statements. Since we have learned that facts are true, when we are given a statement that is presented as a statement of fact, we tend not to question it. Obviously, there are times when taking this approach to dealing with the world is hugely advantageous.

“The stove is hot”

“It’s raining”

With these statements and taking them as facts, our understanding of the world, on an emotional and cognitive level, adapts appropriately and we can adapt our behavior to deal with the implications of these facts, for example, “stay away from the stove”. , “get a coat”.

Such statements need not be questioned. This, of course, does not mean that they cannot be, but for all practical purposes taking them at face value is unlikely to cause any of us anxiety or distress. If we were to take a Gibsonian view of these claims (admittedly a bit strange since Gibson’s theories were concerned with visual perception), we could say that these facts “allow” a clear understanding of their meaning and implications. . We are not limited by those implications, just as one is not limited by the possibilities of visual perception, but they do provide opportunities and information for decision-making in the broadest sense, including thought, feeling, and behavior. Fundamentally, such statements are neutral, not value-laden, and this might explain why we tend not to question them. However, the situation is not so simple. If we consider statements that are value-laden, there is still a tendency to treat them as if they allow a clear understanding of their meanings, and we do not question them even though there may be a broader set of possibilities behind them.

Let’s consider some positive affirmations.

“Your performance today was brilliant”

“You have a nice way of dealing with people”

Would you be prepared to take these statements, maybe you feel a little embarrassed, but take them as a statement of fact and don’t question them? Probably. But what exactly do they mean? What constitutes a brilliant performance and how knowing it helps you hone your skills, adapt your emotions, thinking and behavior? Also, what constitutes a pleasant way of dealing with people? By knowing what “nice” consisted of, in dealing with people, he could measure his performance and use this knowledge of his attributes in other situations. We don’t tend to question the positive aspects, but naively accept them and in doing so, we don’t really learn anything from them.

Objectively, this is pure laziness, but if we explore this topic a little deeper, we can understand why this laziness makes some sense. Think of the effort that would go into trying to figure out the deeper meaning of what someone is trying to communicate with these positives. How would someone react if you asked them in return, “What exactly do you mean when you say nice?” How would you react if someone asked you that after congratulating them? It feels a bit strange. Just like when we ask a casual acquaintance, “How are you?” we don’t expect to hear anything more than “Not bad”, we hope that a compliment will suffice. You look good; you did well, big goal, what else is there to know?

Social convention dictates that positive information stops there, and this means that, in addition to being a sense of comfort, security, and fostering good relationships, it’s not particularly functional. That’s not to say it’s not fun and enjoyable, and can have strong motivational influences, but what do you learn?

Now, let’s get a little paranoid: how much do you trust praise and positive statements? 100%? Do you totally and absolutely take everything positive that is said to you without a pinch of salt? Does your critical voice ever speak and raise lingering doubts in your mind, either about the speaker or how your opinion might be different if you knew better? Let’s pretend that sometimes there are doubts. So the positives aren’t particularly informative, you can’t really learn from them, and you can’t be entirely sure they’re 100% true. When it comes to personal growth, they may not be the bargain they could be. Feeling good, yes, and that’s powerful, but its power comes from someone else. You have not increased your power from them, your personal understanding of your talents, abilities, biases, weaknesses, etc. Someone else is in a position of power to pass these blessings on to you, and as we are beginning to suspect, they may not be 24-karat gold.

If neutral statements are not going to help us in our quest for personal growth and understanding, and positive statements are not, the only thing left would be negative statements.

How could negative statements help us develop, after all, the negative statements that we are so good at keeping in our heads, that continuous commentary that intervenes and deflates us, probably could not be considered a source of vital information that leads to our growth. staff? That’s true. But it is through what we can learn from the negative reactions of others, the things they say, the way they respond, that we can begin to challenge the voices in our minds and the voices on the outside.

If you know what you’re doing wrong, you can change it if you decide to. The good thing is that people are very happy to let you know what you’re doing wrong. Probably the only thing people like better than talking about themselves is telling others what’s wrong with them. Remember that you are not forced to change to satisfy anyone, but if you want or need to develop in a certain area of ​​your life, then knowing where you are now and how that is not as good as required, and knowing the details of where you are wrong, it is almost as if you have been given a map of how to develop yourself. That is a map worth having and you get it for free. While another person may feel like you are taking it out on you, they can gather useful information and use it to understand what is expected and develop strategies to get there.

Who is the one who benefits, the one who criticizes or the one who criticizes?


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