Negativity breeds more negativity, and positivity does the same. Situational awareness is about acknowledging both while discerning the difference.
Stuck in a loop
A vital source of happiness lies in acknowledging the efforts and actions of those around you. Furthermore, it’s about acknowledging everything, and not just what favors your narrative. Often, we get stuck in an endless loop of pointing out other people’s insufficiencies. For example, in a friendship, you may be quick to critique why someone becomes violent when angry but slow to address the steps they’ve taken to get better. A key ingredient to successful communication is your ability to address an issue while lifting someone up in the process. It’s something I’ve struggled with myself. Often, I find myself pointing out others’ flaws and not giving as much attention to their journey’s positive aspects.
Only addressing the negative outcomes of another person’s actions is dangerous for them and equally for yourself. When someone works relentlessly to change something about themselves, and you choose to put them down because they haven’t met your expectations yet, it hurts them. People often just need to hear one positive comment to keep going, but it’s not always given. This behavior becomes dangerous for yourself because of the person you become in the process of doing so. If all you can do is point out other individuals’ areas of improvement and don’t acknowledge their strides made in personal development, what kind of person are you?
Some people say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Relatively speaking, this is true for the case of acknowledgment. If, when attempting to bring awareness to areas of improvement for someone, all you do is put them down, you’re making it harder and harder for them to get back up. Conversations surrounding severe issues aren’t always easy to navigate. Sometimes, things need to be said that people don’t want to hear. Yet, the most productive way to get your point across and see actual results stems from your ability to maneuver the conversation in a way that sounds stern but helpful.
People respond to kindness. So if you want someone you have a friendship with to alter their behavior, you want to do so in a way that brings just as much appreciation as it does concern. Let’s say you know someone who doesn’t have any patience, which bothers you to no end. How have you told them about how you feel? Did you tell them they have no patience, they need to get some, and if they don’t, you won’t be their friend anymore? Because that’s not productive. Or even worse, did you shame them?
Sadly enough, it’s the very reason people aren’t in a hurry to praise someone’s success but are fast to mention that same person’s downfall. It’s because we’re conditioned to see the negatives in people, even ourselves. Often, we don’t acknowledge our accomplishments and instead focus on what we haven’t done yet. It’s a learned behavior that can be changed with time, courage, and commitment. But it starts with acknowledging everything, which includes the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Then, and only then, is when you truly begin to help yourself and the person in front of you. You’ll never be of any assistance by continually bringing up someone’s problems and putting them down with your words any chance you get. You can bring awareness to someone’s inability by explaining how you feel and simultaneously acknowledging the things they do right. If you see your friend who doesn’t have patience and noticed they were slightly more patient recently, make a mental note of it and tell them.
Don’t tell yourself it’s not a big enough difference to say anything because each incremental improvement in someone’s growth matters. For all you know, the very thing your friend could have needed to spur their development further was your acknowledgment. We all need to be acknowledged in one way or another, so do yourself a favor and run the gamut of acknowledgment. Acknowledge any and everything and bring attention to areas of improvement and productivity; you and the person you care about will be better people because of it.