“The right thing to do and the hard thing to do are usually the same.“
– Steve Maraboli
Here’s your midweek newsletter — a gentle nudge to make your week more interesting, thoughtful and productive.
Let’s Have A Talk About Self-Talk
There seems to be a huge consensus among self-improvement enthusiasts, psychologists and scientists that self-talk should be extremely kind. In theory, I agree with that as well.
However, I’ve been thinking about it for a while now, and the more I look into it, the more I realise that my self-talk is only about halfway kind, and that sort of works for me.
That made me realise, the whole kindness bandwagon may or may not work for a lot of people, and so, let’s talk about self-talk.
In my opinion, self-talk should be kind, but kindness has to come second. Before that, I believe it should come from a place of accountability which may or may not be stern. Occasionally, it has to be stern.
There’s this growing popularity in the idea that positive equals kind which is not always true, and I feel is a misconstrued belief. I think this is precisely where the line blurs. Positive self-talk is essential but does it have to be kind always? Probably not.
Imagine you’re on the sofa, lying down, as you gulp yet another pint knowing all too well that you have to work tomorrow. A positive action here is to stop drinking so that you have your tomorrow in control. A negative action here is to continue drinking because you’ve had a long day.
If you only had kind self-talk, you’d probably tell yourself you deserve to chill out a bit, and well, before you know it, another day bites the dust. If your self-talk were positive and filled with accountability, though, you’d be strict with yourself there.
“I shouldn’t take another pint because it’s wrong. I deserve to chill, but hey, I have responsibilities too,” for example is how you can frame it.
If I was honest, I often talk to myself referring to myself in third-person.
“Hey, man. You don’t need that pint. Turn the TV off, and go to sleep now. I need you to workout tomorrow” is what I’d say to myself.
So, are you self-sabotaging in the guise of kind self-talk? That’s up to you to figure out.
The thing is, the more I talk to others, the more I feel that many people use popular ideas to justify behaviour where they’re either sabotaging themselves or staying stuck in a bad place.
Maybe sometimes, your kind words to yourself don’t get you out a slump. Maybe, sometimes, when your inner teen takes over, you have to be a parent in your head.
Sometimes, tough love and holding ourselves accountable is where growth lies.
An Amateur’s Guide To Digesting Negative Feedback
Feedback is a bit of a double-edged sword. On one side, you need it to cut the clutter and grow further. On the other, negative feedback can destroy the vibe of your day.
I’ve never been great at taking feedback, which is something I’ve been working on for a long time now. I’m an amateur. Coincidentally, last week was a bombardment of feedback, both direct and indirect.
The barrage made me realise that I have improved a lot at taking feedback. So, I thought, why not share what I’ve learned?
Lesson 1: Always thank the other person
No matter what feedback comes your way, no matter how helpful or unhelpful it is, you have to thank the other person.
They had a thought; they shared it with you. Irrespective of everything else, they’re doing you a huge favour. Say thanks and appreciate them and their time.
Their feedback may not be helpful today, but it will spark an idea later.
Lesson 2: Understand other people are human too
Think clearly and go through the feedback twice in your head before you say anything. Take a pause, and give yourself that moment to build a cohesive thought about it.
Before you respond, think about how other people are human too, and they might not be in the best headspace before they sent the feedback over.
At least, if nothing else, giving that benefit of the doubt clears your biases.
For example, a friend sent me a newsletter and said something like, “it was better when your newsletter used to be like this.” I was confused because I hadn’t changed anything. I asked them about it, and they said they got confused between Midweek Nudge and Saturday Blog Post.
While it was a thought I was playing with for a while, this little error made me cement the decision that the Saturday Blog Post email had to go.
Lesson 3: Turn off your opinion altogether
If the urge you get after receiving any feedback is to explain it away, don’t. Say thank you, stop talking and if you can, just let the other person know that you’ll think about it before you get back to them or use it.
The way this helps is that it gives you the time to get past your knee-jerk reaction to seeing if the other person has a good point. In which case, the benefit is all yours.
Lesson 4: Never shy away from getting feedback
An unexpected tryst with negative feedback can make you afraid of it, more or less. Often, after receiving feedback that’s even borderline negative, you shy away from asking for it again.
On the contrary, you should be more open to that negative feedback and if possible, have a conversation about it either with the person providing the feedback itself, if they have the time or another person, which often helps get a third-person perspective.
Lesson 5: Accept it or reject it; then, let it go
The issue with humans is that we tend to dwell on things and take them too personally. This was one of my largest hiccups when I was younger. Everything was about me and that’s the wrong approach when it comes to taking feedback.
Choose one of the two uses, and then let it go. Feedback is the most transient thing you’ll find in life, and if you choose to keep it around, it doesn’t do anyone any good.
Once you have all five down, you’ll be more accepting of negative feedback and criticism, and once you do that, the only way is towards betterment.
If you take the feedback, you improve. If you reject it, you’re more sure of yourself.
It’s a win-win.
Reading List: Quiet by Susan Cain
“Use your natural powers—of persistence, concentration, insight, and sensitivity—to do work you love and work that matters. Solve problems, make art, think deeply.”
I read this book back in 2018. The one idea that has stuck with me since is how groupthink is not always beneficial and how consensus is, in fact, often counter-intuitive.
There’s a part of this book that made me realise there was nothing wrong if your definition of good work is usually more about how you see things rather than pleasing everyone in the room.
It’s a great book, to be honest, and in a world that is obsessed on making the workplace and work more open and communicative, it shines a light on the other side of the cabin.
Quick Update On Nudge › How
Last week I wrote about something I call Comfort Encroachment. The article explains the concept in detail along with scenarios where it happens. I’ve also talked about how to deal with it when it happens.
Also, feedback is heard loud and clear. I’ll stop sending the Saturday Blog Post email since I cover the blog post in this section each week anyway. So, the only email you get from Nudge › How is going to be the Midweek Nudge.
Lastly, I also added a page called Schedule, which is a run-down of all the different nudges you get from me, when and where. This will prove to be a useful reference guide if you like a certain kind of post.
I hope this added some value to your week. Stay safe, stay inspired, and I’ll talk to you next week.