Accentuate The Positive

I traveled to Miami last weekend to run the ING Half Marathon. The race starts at 6:15am and although I was battling a cold and my body wasn’t acclimated to the humid temps, I managed to mentally push through and complete the event before the 2 hour mark. When I crossed the finish line I gave myself a good pat on the back. I do this quite often. If I surmount a challenge or stare down a fear, I pay attention to what I’ve done well and acknowledge myself for it. Sometimes, I hear myself say, “‘atta girl” when I have pushed through an obstacle that might otherwise have stopped me.

I didn’t win the race, or even come close to placing in my age category. But I lined up and I finished. And that to me is worth celebrating. When you think about it, we receive thousands of hours of criticism each year from our friends, our bosses, sometimes even our families. For most adults, negative feedback far outweighs the positive. But it is crucial if we are going to reach peak performance in anything – or simply just live a happy life – that we give ourselves credit, where credit is due.

So how might you inject more than a couple of minutes of positive feedback each year into your life? My advice is to start small and begin with yourself. If you can’t think of any personal affirmations offhand, ask yourself,

“What did I do well this week and what did I discover about myself as a result?”

Watch out for ways in which you are growing, learning and developing. Choose one thing every day for at least four days to acknowledge and appreciate yourself. Positive reinforcement helps to calm our minds and strengthen our will. It allows us to focus on what we are doing right – rather than what we are doing wrong.

By giving ourselves approval, we are then more inclined to offer it to others as well. I often try to find one different individual every week to acknowledge for their contribution. It’s as simple as noticing carefully what they are doing right, and how that is making a difference.

If you are out of practice, here are a few examples of how you might accentuate the positive:

Appreciation: I really appreciate you completing that report on time.

Validation: I can see you’ve given this presentation a lot of attention.

Recognition: It is clear you are a gifted artist.

Affirmation: I believe that you deserve all the credit for this project.

Confirmation: It’s great that you are tackling this matter. You are well-equipped to find a solution.

Thanking: Thanks for taking the time to help the team in accomplishing this goal.

Openly validate, confirm, encourage, support, and authentically believe in your own and other’s potential. As you begin to do this, you may see your own reality start to change as well.