Down the Drain with Praise and Criticism

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“Praise and criticism go down the same drain.” Betty H.

I cut my own hair and kept its natural color ever since I grayed early and changed to a short hairstyle. No one cut it like I wanted, so I gave up on finding a stylist and bought a set of clippers. I’ve never colored because I imagined it turning the shade of a carrot.

Family, friends, and strangers who have loved my short gray hair have made the style and color easy for me to love as well. Praise has been nice to hear. 

If anyone’s disliked it, they’ve kept it to themselves. That was, until The Woman struck up a conversation with my friend and me. We were at a mutual friend’s house for a get-together. The Woman talked about finding someone to style her hair the way she liked it. We both complimented her cut and color just before she looked at me and said, “I’m relieved I found her because I wouldn’t be caught dead leaving my house with gray hair.”

It was one of those moments I wished I was as bold as Joy in Shadowlands, a movie about C.S. Lewis. When Lewis’ friend criticized, Joy turned to him and asked, “Are you trying to be offensive, or merely stupid?”

Since I’m not so outspoken (yet), criticism’s left me shaken for days. It’d send me reeling and questioning more than my hair color. Why doesn’t she like me? What’d I do to bring on that kind of reaction? How can I let go of replaying the scene again and again?

I glanced in a mirror over the dining room table where we were standing near the food. No urge came over me to dip my head in a dye bottle or bolt out of the party, so I figured I’d let her criticism go down the drain. 

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Still, there’s much work to do when I come up against praise and criticism. Publishing a book is a goal of mine, and a “different animal” from writing articles and blog posts. I’ve read Amazon book reviews that’d make a crybaby out of Bruce Lee. Similarly, I’ve obsessively checked on here for encouraging comments even though I don’t want them to be the reason I write. I’m sure God doesn’t want that either.

Maybe I’ll  tattoo Betty’s praise and criticism quote on my eyeballs. Or maybe I’ll just skip reading other people’s opinions since I can get caught up in either one – praise or criticism.

I admired how well Chuck Murphy, our former rector at The Abbey, handled praise and criticism. I wondered how he’d come to the place his friend described, “He had little use for the praise of men, but wanted it from heaven.”

Chuck set an example of caring what God, not people, thought about his actions, some of which were controversial. He didn’t solicit praise from people, nor did he spend much time praising them. He saved that for God. He also didn’t criticize. He stated scripture and facts and observations. 

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My friend Betty encouraged me away from caring so much about what others thought of me. She shared quotes like the one at the beginning of this blog post, as well as this one, “Ten percent of people will like you no matter what. Ten percent will dislike you no matter what. The other 80 percent aren’t thinking anything about you.”

She also said, “What other people think of you is none of your business.”

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Her wisdom helped me get myself to the right size, important to some people, but not to all. She helped me keep people’s praise and criticism the right size too, so I wasn’t consumed with either one. Mostly, she reminded me to get God to the right (and bigger) size.

Praise encourages and inspires, but let 20 people praise us and one person criticize us and see which we focus on. Focusing on God and our purpose remedies that.

“You can’t let praise or criticism get to you. It’s a weakness to get caught up in either one.” John Wooden

Why do we care so much what others think about us when it’s our calling that matters? Living our purpose gives us meaning beyond praise and criticism. Our purpose allows us to let praise and criticism go down the same drain, the place our lives would be if not for God’s opinion of us.

#gettingyourownlife #whilelovingthepeopleinit 

In This Together,
Kim

Disclaimer: Some facts have been changed to protect The Woman. #keepitkind

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15 responses »

  1. Love this attitude, Kim! And coincidentally, I cut my wife’s hair this weekend…she came out looking rather like Mr. SPock, but liked at…and so did the people at work. She’s middle management, so she’s got to look good, and I guess Vulcan is in.

    I have a poster (and am sending it to you by email) that sums up my own feelings – the wording is “I’m sorry, I can’t hear you over the sound of how awesome I am.”

    I figure preemption is the best remedy!

    That tongue-in-cheek moment aside, I’m drifting ever closer to the Pearly Gates (went through and back last week, you can read about it in the link below if you like), and I really don’t have time for the cavails or praise of others. I’ve done my best; have to leave it at that.

    https://blessed-are-the-pure-of-heart.blogspot.com/2018/04/your-dying-spouse-465-near-death.html

    • Oh, wow, Andrew. The most powerful part is sharing that if you looked, you would surely go. I’ve read the same sentiment from others who’ve had near death experiences. It’s hopeful to know heaven is so captivating. ❤

      And you keep your humor. I had to laugh about your wife's hair. One of the times I cut (shaved) mine the shortest, I got the most compliments. That was fine, but it was accidental and I wasn't doing it again.

      The poster is great. Maybe I'll get that as a tattoo instead. 🙂 I pray for you and Barbara often.

  2. If you’re a subscriber and you read this blog post in your email, the edited version on my blog is condensed and cleaned up. I removed a good bit of praise and criticism. How ironic is that?

    No more rushing to post at the last minute on the final day of the month.

    Thanks for stopping by! ❤

  3. Kim,I loved reading this and needed It! It’s so easy to get caught up in other people’s attitudes and how they make us feel! It really isnt important how we’re perceived by others but that’s a human trait that’s hard to let go. I often look at people thinking did they REALLY mean it the way I understood It? Pleasing God and being happy with ourselves should be what matters most! Like you said, “How others see us is really not our business”. I’m working daily on that attitude. Life is what we make It! Working on the downward slide of that life,I intend to make the most of It!

    • Susan, I’m with you! I want it to be God and my purpose first. I love my family and friends, but I need a slight breeze between me and people so that I don’t get too distracted. I’ve always thought, what’s wrong with putting relationships first? A lot.

      Many times I wonder if I misunderstood someone or took what they said to heart when they didn’t mean it the way I heard it. I also wonder what I’ve said that may have hurt others. I guess that’s where the relationship status on FB came from, It’s Complicated. It sure is. lol 😀 You and I have had a “couple” of conversations about this. 😉

      I’m working at doing the same … making the most of this last third. ❤ Love you lots and more!

  4. Kim, I so love your writing and you. You are truly one of the most caring, empathetic, intelligent people I know. Your friend is correct that no matter what we do, even to the point of saving their life or giving them a million dollars there will always be a percentage of people who do not like us. This can be for multiple reasons…from jealousy to self-hate. I know it is still hard to accept because like you, I want to think everyone should love me. Lol. But it is just not going to happen.

    We just have to continue on and as Dory says, “just keep swimming.”

    • You’re so kind and encouraging, Faye! Thank you. ❤

      I wish I remembered in the moment that people dislike themselves and their unkindness comes from that place. It's hard to keep in mind when they seem harsh instead of like they're hurting. I "get it" in hindsight, but not right then. Good reminder!

      And I love, love, love Dory's quote!!! I'm a quote fanatic and I like simple ones like this. Plus, she's a cute messenger.

      Love you!

  5. This reminds me of the year my son died. I had very long hair. Most of my years I have had longish hair. I always felt it was what looked best on me. One day I was in a salon needing a trim and I saw a photo of a model in a real cute short hair cut. Her hair went behind her ears and very short down her neck. It was styled on the top to give it a bit of height. In a moment of “I don’t care any more” I blurted out, “Cut my hair like hers!” As I watched my hair drop to the floor I thought to myself, “I don’t want to look like me anymore”. After all, my son was gone, and at the moment all I cared about was that reality in my life.Grief takes on so many forms. As the stylist put in gel and blow dried my hair I felt a sense of satisfaction, like I did something radical in some sort of fit of rebellion. I walked out of the salon feeling BALD! I never had short hair before.

    I went home and looked in the mirror. I thought, “Well take that stupid world!” Its a strange story, I know. I mean, it is not like my hair makes a difference between war or world peace, right? It was my act of total rebellion though. It kind of bombed when no one really seemed to care that I did it. The reaction was not what I thought it would be. I ended up not liking it and grew it back. Not sure what I expected. Praise? Rejection? Maybe I wanted someone to say something snarky so I could have an excuse to just be ticked off! LOL, sounds so stupid now. Oh the things our hair can bring up, right? Short, long, grey, brown, blonde, or anywhere in between, it only really is just used to cover our heads 🙂

    • Our grief can cause us to do some radical things, Jenine. I understand. At least you kept it appropriate and cut off your hair. Some people go crazy with grief and do damage. I don’t think it’s a stupid story. After all, I just wrote an entire blog post about gray hair. 😀

      I did sort of laugh that you didn’t get the reaction you wanted … you know, not at you, but with you because I relate. I bought a motorcycle when I was in a lot of pain and it bombed about like your short hair. No one cared. Oh, goodness, us and our twinning. I love you! ❤

      • lol, I guess my statement did not really make one, just like your motorcycle. Go figure. Usually people are all over things I do, always a comment. But not on my hair and not when I wanted one! LOL

      • It’s like a counselor told me once, you won’t get it until you don’t want it anymore. He was talking about things we make too important. I hated hearing it, but, so far, his statement’s been pretty accurate.

  6. Oh my goodness. What a fantastic post. As an author I get those Amazon reviews you were referring to. Negative and positive and yet it is always the negative that sticks to me like old gum on your shoe. Lately, I’ve been trusting God more than ever with things like that and my life in general. This post is just another reminder that only One person’s opinion really matters… God’s. Thank you for that. God bless you.

    • Hi Debra, I appreciate you stopping by and commenting. I always love hearing from other writers/authors. Congratulations on your book being one of the NY Times Best Sellers! What a treat.

      I had to laugh at “sticks to me like old gum on your shoe.” lol 🙂 I can so relate! i don’t have a book, but I’ve had trolls on my blog. I wish I could forget their negative comments as fast as I delete them. And it’s too bad you can’t do that on Amazon … delete, delete, delete.

      I guess that’s what God is, our Delete button, and then all that’s left is Him and His goodness/good stuff. A little easier to type than to live by, but, like you, I’m working in this direction.

      Thank you! ❤

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