"Keep scribbling! Something will happen." Frank McCourt

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Spot

One Sunday, a woman sat in front of me at church who wore a striped sweater.  At one point, I saw her staring at her wrist. I couldn’t see it, but there must have been a spot of something on her sleeve because she leaned over to look at it. She rubbed it with her finger. She patted the spot and then pinched the fabric pulling it.  Finally, she seemed to give up and rested the palm of her hand over the tiny area, on her sleeve.
Her sweater was at least 99% free of spots, but she concentrated on the 1% that was soiled.
Many times, I’ve focused on one negative comment on a class evaluation, when I taught, instead of focusing on the other more positive comments. Sometimes, I’ve let this ruin my entire experience.
Anytime we interact with others, we’re at their mercy. Constructive criticism can be helpful, but the other can hurt.  Some people communicate through criticism.  Some people are critical because it makes them feel better about themselves.  Some are critical because they think they are an expert on everything.
Obsessing on the negative 1% of what is thrown at us can cancel out the other 99% of what is positive.  It’s ok to consider the spot, but it’s better to focus on the entire sweater.
Have you ever fixated on one criticism and let it ruin your experience?  How do you handle criticism both positive and negative?

11 comments:

  1. Hi Teresa .. an excellent example of the power of our mind - we let it dwell on the negative .. and really it should be what's good in the now.

    I really don't know - my life has changed since my mother has been ill and my attitudes too - I do get frustrated with the little things that aren't right, but then remember in the bigger scheme - my mother is being looked after pretty well. I have adapted in life too ..

    Cheers - thank goodness I don't focus on one spot!! The computer screen is bad enough .. Have a good week - it's a real spring day here - lucky us ... Hilary

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  2. It's funny how that one tiny spot is like a spotlight calling our attention. Criticism is tough sometimes, and often I've found I just have to do my best to purely let it go and move on ...

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  3. Absolutely I have! It's kinda like that one bad apple can spoil the whole bunch.

    Funny how we can be havin' the best of days and we let a little thing ruin it for us. It's sure not the way God wants us to look at life!

    What a beautiful post sweetie.

    God bless and have yourself a very positive day void of 'tiny little spots'!!!!

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  4. Isn't it funny how we tend to do that? How one spot of bad overrides all of the good? And once we do that, it's difficult to focus on the good.

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  5. Great illustration of how we can fixate on one negative thing. Yes. I do it. I'd like to stop. Something to work on.

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  6. Teresa,
    Wow, what a powerful post...it made me think of my principal who only talks to most of us when we have done something wrong and truly she doesn't ever tell us what we do right. I use to be really bothered by her comments but have realized that she must be a pretty miserable person to only point out what each staff members does wrong....meanwhile there is such negative energy in our building so I try really hard not to be sucked up in that. great post!

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  7. I am often negative about my memory but in many ways I'm really happy I have a horrible one. I can't remember things people have done to me. It makes me naturally forgiving. I try to find the good in people, I try to understand why people act the way they act. Perhaps they lost someone they loved... Perhaps they're sick... Perhaps they had a horrible day... That way have thinking is working out well for me.

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  8. Hi,
    You're so right, we do tend to focus on the smallest things, forgetting the major are most often, more important components. I try not to let myself think too much about the negative. If I do think about something that's not to my liking, it'll have me tied up in knots for days.

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  9. I can't think of any specific instance at the moment, but I know I've had that fixation experience. I try to ignore the negative if they are minor and not a hindrance, and if I do have to point something out I try to outweigh it with positives.
    Great lesson, Teresa.

    Lee
    The Dog Lived (and So Did I)
    Wrote By Rote
    An A to Z Co-host blog

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  10. Great post and well said. I am very guilty of this every day - time to stop picking at those spots on my sweater and enjoy the whole garment! Nice to meet you
    Lx

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  11. Sometimes I focus on the criticism and mull it over a lot trying to figure out how to improve, but luckily I seem to get over it within 24 hours. :)

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