In our worst traits lay the seeds of our best traits.
In those moments when we criticize behavior, we have an opportunity. If we take the time to shift our perception and look for the positive in the situation, we will find a quality to appreciate.
In those moments when we might be critical, we can make a conscious choice to react to the world in a different way. Instead of feeling irritable and angry while looking for evidence to justify our feelings, we can ask ourselves, “What can I appreciate in this situation? What am I thankful for? How can I express my gratitude?”
Our criticism of others sometimes reflects our intolerance of our own shortcomings.
Pet peeves. We all have them. We can either feed our pet peeves or delve into these annoyances to discover the seeds of a positive trait.
Being hit with a grocery cart in the checkout line used to be one of my pet peeves. Pushy people inching their carts closer and closer in the narrow aisle as my groceries moved toward the cashier drove me crazy. Bumping me more than once as I attempted to write a check was the ultimate annoyance.
As I pushed my bags to the car, I inwardly fumed, “Can you believe that person! Who does he think he is? Why couldn’t he keep his cart back ten inches for ten more seconds! Harrumph!”
In some of my studies I came across the idea that perhaps I was critical of my fellow shopper because he reflected my own impatience. My pet peeves were me, reflected back to me. Very interesting.
Next shopping trip, I resolved to be more patient, and to not to be in a hurry to get out of the store. As part of my experiment, I offered my place in line to the person behind me. “Please go next. I’m not in a hurry.”
The person following me, instead of pushing their cart forward, stayed a respectful distance back. The shopper in front of me expressed appreciation and kindness.
After this venture, instead of feeling like a bruised and harassed shopper, I left the store feeling kind and appreciated by the other folks in line.
In this way, I discovered that one of my less desirable characteristics, impatience, held the seed to one of my finer traits, kindness.
In our criticism of our children, let us look at their behavior in such a way so that we can discover the seed of their positive features or strengths.
When we see messiness, perhaps we can look for creativity, spontaneity, or imagination and appreciate those qualities.
When we think our children are rude, perhaps we might see the seeds of assertiveness, shyness, expressiveness, or honesty, and help them express those qualities in a positive manner.
When we are irritated by noise or constant requests for attention from our children, let us consider appreciating their lovingness, their energy, their enthusiasm, their strength and their humor.
Look for the seeds of positive qualities at those times when you might be thinking, ‘Why does he have to do that!”
Here are a few positive qualities where you might consider placing your appreciation:
Energetic, Honest, Loyal, Intelligent, Brave, Sensitive, Thoughtful, Cheerful, Gracious, Playful, Caring, Exciting, Committed, Active, Adventurous, Responsible, Reliable, Resourceful, Athletic, Funny, Calm, Assertive, Understanding, Creative, Affectionate, Interesting, Honest, Kind, Friendly, Protective, Gentle, Generous, Strong, Coordinated, Graceful, Diligent, Trustworthy.
Research shows that giving people five bits of honest and earned appreciation per day creates strong and supportive relationships. Next time you feel critical, take the time to identify the finer qualities that are hidden in the situation. Express your appreciation for these traits with a simple thank you.
Remember, the seed we feed grows.