Are you more inclined to believe criticism than praise?

This is a guest post by David Brown of Potentiality Coaching.

Savouring positive experiences is a rare thing.  Many people find it almost impossible to accept praise.  They brush it off, deflect and move on without acknowledging the role they played in the success or kind deed.

What impact do you think this is having on your confidence?  How do you imagine this affects your business?

Savour the positive

What if we were to savour the compliments?  What if we took the time to let those kind comments sink in, feel it in our bodies, allow the praise to bolster our confidence, self- belief and sense of worth?

I think the world would be a very different place.  We would be more self- assured and our health would be better.

The act of thinking positively releases feel good serotonin and oxytocin around the body.

In workhops I notice people wriggle and squirm when they receive compliments and affirmations from other participants.  It seems to touch on feelings of unworthiness and imposter syndrome. These are deep- seated mindsets that prevent us from accepting praise and enjoying life more fully.  How can we experience fulfillment in our life and work if we do not savour the moments when life is great?

Focus on the positive

This topic came up in a recent Friday check- in on the Drive Facebook Group.  It reminded me of talking to my Father who was praising me for achieving my Black belt 4th dan in martial arts a couple of years ago.  Every word of encouragement he said was competing with my own words of “Well, it wasn’t that hard” and “anyone can do it if they put the work in”.  I feel very different now and can accept the compliment more easily. It is a work in progress.

What have you been praised for in your work life?  Are there testimonials you can read that show you that you can do excellent work?  Do you savour the spoken compliments that people make in passing, or the throw away social media positive sound bites that big you up?  We all have a stack of them.  Find them.  Recall them.

In the article quoted below, the author explains that there is scientific evidence that points to the fact that negative experiences stick in our minds like Velcro.  Positive experiences, by contrast, stick like Teflon (i.e. hardly at all).  He explains that this has an evolutionary advantage and that we are biologically predisposed towards negative bias.  I would argue that while this makes sense, the brain is in fact neutral- it will do what it is trained to do by experience and practice.  If you practice focusing on the negative and ignoring the positive, you will see more negativity.  It works the other way too- train yourself to see things in a positive light and you will see more positivity.  That includes positive things about yourself.

Take in the good

Try the process set out in this article ( by Dr. Rick Hanson that I paste directly below:

“Here’s how to take in the good – in three simple steps.


  1. Look for good facts, and turn them into good experiences. 

Good facts include positive events – like the taste of good coffee or getting an unexpected compliment – and positive aspects of the world and yourself. When you notice something good, let yourself feel good about it.

Try to do this at least a half dozen times a day. There are lots of opportunities to notice good events, and you can always recognize good things about the world and yourself. Each time takes just 30 seconds or so. It’s private; no one needs to know you are taking in the good. You can do it on the fly in daily life, or at special times of reflection, like just before falling asleep (when the brain is especially receptive to new learning).

Notice any reluctance to feeling good. Such as thinking that you don’t deserve to, or that it’s selfish, vain, or even shameful to feel pleasure. Or that if you feel good, you will lower your guard and let bad things happen.

Barriers to feeling good are common and understandable – but they get in the way of you taking in the resources you need to feel better, have more strength, and have more inside to give to others. So acknowledge them to yourself, and then turn your attention back to the good news. Keep opening up to it, breathing and relaxing, letting the good facts affect you.

It’s like sitting down to a meal: don’t just look at it—taste it!

  1. Really enjoy the experience. 

Most of the time, a good experience is pretty mild, and that’s fine. But try to stay with it for 20 or 30 seconds in a row – instead of getting distracted by something else.

As you can, sense that it is filling your body, becoming a rich experience. As Marc Lewis and other researchers have shown, the longer that something is held in awareness and the more emotionally stimulating it is, the more neurons that fire and thus wire together, and the stronger the trace in memory.

You are not craving or clinging to positive experiences, since that would ultimately lead to tension and disappointment. Actually, you are doing the opposite: by taking them in and filling yourself up with them, you will increasingly feel less fragile or needy inside, and less dependent on external supplies; your happiness and love will become more unconditional, based on an inner fullness rather than on whether the momentary facts in your life happen to be good ones.

  1. Intend and sense that the good experience is sinking into you.

People do this in different ways. Some feel it in their body like a warm glow spreading through their chest like the warmth of a cup of hot cocoa on a cold wintry day. Others visualize things like a golden syrup sinking down inside, bringing good feelings and soothing old places of hurt, filling in old holes of loss or yearning; a child might imagine a jewel going into a treasure chest in her heart. And some might simply know conceptually, that while this good experience is held in awareness, its neurons are firing busily away, and gradually wiring together”

Business Transformation

Then, don’t forget to continue doing this process.  The more you do it, the more your internal wiring will fire to let those compliments and other positive experiences really make a difference to your perception of yourself.  And when you have a great perception of yourself, when you feel that you really do a great job of the work that you do, the impact on your business is transformative:

  • You are more likely to charge the fees you are worth and do so unapologetically
  • Your confidence will shine through giving your clients greater trust in you
  • You will speak with more authority about your business and your field
  • That self assurance will come across more effectively to clients in business and to colleagues and other business owners in networking situations
  • You will enjoy your work and the journey more

Please do not underestimate the power of savouring the positive moments in your life.  Although this article was prompted by a discussion about running a business, think about the impact that this could have on your life at large- your relationships with friends, children, partners and family, how you feel about yourself, the degree to which you enjoy daily life, living with less guilt and sense of unworthiness.  How different would life look and feel from this more positive and empowering perspective?

Over to you

Does this article resonate with you?  Is this a pattern that repeats in your life? Does it feel like this negatively impacts on your business and/ or quality of life?

If you’d like to feel more confident and more free to openly accept praise for the great contribution you make, why not get in touch?

David Brown
Potentiality Coaching