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Don’t take praise OR blame personally! Define yourself from within!

To listen to the audio version of this blog, click here.

One of the interesting things about being in the unique position that I am in here at TDL is that I get to receive all kinds of feedback and emails and tweets and comments from folks.

Everything from praise to blame to love to hate and all kinds of stuff in between.

And it’s awesome to be able to see the diversity of the community.

What’s interesting is my reaction to this diversity. I remember the very first time I ever wrote something of my own in a Daily Love email, some of my readers thought I was arrogant to quote myself.

Other people Loved it!

And that started the conversation between me and the amazing Daily Lovers out there. What’s most interesting to me though is that I could get a bunch of emails praising TDL and my writing, but I always tend to focus on the negative emails. And for the first few years, I would take them SO personally.

And I would ignore or discount the positive emails. Then over time, I started getting more and more positive praise and more negative feedback as well. And what started to happen is that I started to BELIEVE the positive and ignore the negative.

And that didn’t feel authentic to me. So I started to believe the positive and engage the negative. Anytime someone writes in with a negative comment and I see it, I do my best to respond with a question. Because deep down most negative comments and emails come from folks who just want to be seen or acknowledged. I’ve been able to turn around 99% of the negative comments through asking questions and diving deeper into what people actually believe. This has been helpful because now I do not take the negative comments personally.

But then I started to look at myself. And I saw that I was no longer taking the negative comments personally, but I was still taking the positive comments personally. And so I stopped that as well.

I realized that everyone is engaging me the best they can from their own point of view. Praise and blame are all equal and only feedback, not truth.

My aim is to simply serve, do my work and not take the praise or blame personally. I certainly appreciate positive feedback and Love to hear the negative, too – because it helps me to make TDL better. But what I’m doing now is trying my best to not let the positive or the negative define me.

TDL has millions of Readers, which means that there are millions of opinions out there about TDL, me and the community. And none of them – positive or negative, define me. That is an inside job. And it’s hard, but I’m doing my best to get there.

You may or may not have an audience of millions – but when you think about praise and blame in your life – what would your life be like if you didn’t take either personally and defined yourself from within? I’m curious.

As always, the action happens in the comments below. Leave a comment and join the conversation! The TDL Community thrives in the comments and it’s a GREAT place to get support!

Love,

Mastin

  • http://twitter.com/30_Days_of_YES Travis Thomas

    Mastin,

    Your comment about not taking the positive or negative personally reminds me of what I feel when watching or listening to Eckhart Tolle. When he was doing the webcast series with Oprah – she asked him what it was like when he heard Oprah wanted to do this series…and his response was so indifferent, “Ahhhh…it was good.” No cartwheels, no screaming…just good. He then went on to say that whether he sold one book – or millions – it just didn’t matter.

    Your post reminded me of that this morning as I strive to take the compliments and the criticism less personally.

    Travis

  • BenNRileysMom

    The problem I get into with taking negative and positive feedback personally, is that I focus too much on the negative feedback, and how to change to correct it, and the positive feedback counts for less and less.

    • Lucyhouston

      It can be a vicious cycle. I too have struggled with going over and over and over what someone said to me that I thought was unfair or untrue. One day I noticed a friend, that when confronted with something negative simply said, Oh yeah. You’re probably right! and then laughed. And everyone just went on with their day.

      I really love her approach. She in essence, “gives in” to the attack. Admits to the truth of it. Stops fighting with it. Allows for someone to have an opinion about her.  Doing so takes the sting out of someone’s attack and also allows them to be heard, if that’s what they’re searching for. I used to think that if I “admitted” to what I was being accused of, that everyone would think negatively of me. But the opposite is actually true. Those who defend attacks look more like they’re guilty of them. Those who accept them, somehow diffuse them.  Try asking yourself, what if those things they accuse me of are true? Is that ok? Am I still lovable? See where it goes…  Peace.

  • Julia Theisen

    I saw you on Oprah – I hadn’t known about you before then. I am inspired by you. Thank you for making this your life’s work and bringing more light into this world.

  • http://www.facebook.com/caroldekkers Carol Dekkers

    I love that this fits so well with don Miguel Ruiz’ The Four Agreements (#2 Never take anything personally.)  It makes such a difference when one realizes that reactions to something I say/do are so much more about the other person than anything to do with me.

    Thanks for your posts!

  • Queen

    I think as human beings we focused too much on the negative feedback and then we start to criticize ourselves. I remember I went to an seminar and what I was taught to do when someone gave me praise or blame I simply reply: Thank you for being open and honest with me , while looking that person straight in the eye. We should judge an event and state that they are positive or negative, all events are neutral it is our we interprets it that makes us feel good or bad. Someone can you a bitch or say that you are awesome however we must respond with thank you fro being open and honest with me. That praise or blame is not truth is it just a belief.

  • Kelly Breedlove

    Mastin,
    I love this piece! I am a Latina in a large Latin family who in also in business together.  I think the hardest for me is the negativity that comes from within my family or people close to me.  Not to say that it doesn’t hurt from others but the sting that comes from family doesn’t go away quick.  I have been working on not taking it personally recently and pulling back from the drama.  And I would say, it makes them crazy and I am doing much better.  
    I am going to continue doing my work and one day at a time I hope to not be defined by the negative or sideways comments.  I just started blogging and I am a little nervous about getting negative comments so this comes at a good time.  I am making a decision on this end of it not to take it personally.  Thanks!
    Kelly

  • Elizabeth

    The Four Agreements came to my mind too. It taught me what we say and do has to do with only ourselves and as Gary Zukav says it shows whether we are operating from a frightened part of our personality that needs healing or a loving part of our personality. When someone does not express love, which is our true essence, they simply need healing. God Bless, Elizabeth

  • Info

    I also love that it fits so well with Miguel Ruiz, and If I would never taken praise or blame personally I think I would be the most authentic myself I could ever be.
    So this inspires me to really work on that, and see where it takes me.
    Life is a great journey, and with travel guidance like TDL you cant go in the wrong direction.

  • Eveline Almeida

    “Praise and blame are all equal and only feedback, not truth.” We can actually extend this to everything in life. It’s just people’s opinion not the ultimate truth, it’s just something that happened not a proof that we’re not good at it. Sometimes we get too attached to the details or the words that  have been said that we don’t see the big picture or why they said that in the first place.

  • http://www.are-you-there-kathleen-its-me-god.blogspot.com/ Kathleen Reynolds Chelquist

    I remember when I read the, Four Agreements (0ff of Carol’s comment), I thought: “How in the heck is not personal? It is personal, rude, insensitive, and mean!” A self-righteous friend once told my husband that he was taking things too personally and NEEDED to read Don Ruiz’s book, over an argument. My husband replied, “I don’t need an F’ing book to tell me how I feel!!!” This was almost 10 years ago, and I so can relate to people who are struggling with this concept. And, it is true. Very true. We are 110% responsible for how we feel, and when we KNOW that we are enough and claim our birthright of love and freedom-we won’t create anger or defensiveness. We won’t take it personally. It is a choice. The other thing I would like to add is that when we are PRESENT and KNOW again that we are enough…we can listen to the judgement even if the other person is not coming from their heart.  Cinnamon Lofton writes, “Often when you are taking offense to what someone said, if you go within you will usually find that there is in it a grain of truth. A truth that you are resisting. Explore this courageously and you will find insight.” At the time, my husband resisted looking inward  because he was too busy defending his EGO. At the time, I knew that what our friend was saying had validity to it… but I was too pissed off  defending my hubby to explore it.  So, “YES” it is not in our best interest to take blame personally, AND it is in our best interest to check in with ourselves. We will know by our reaction if there is a grain of truth. If there isn’t-bless your criticizer’s heart, and MOVE ON. It is none of your business. It is their own projection and illusion (check out my SHINY LURES blog for more info on this) And, “YES”…do not take “praise” personally as well because praise changes like the wind. Thanks Mastin for a great post!

    The Daily Commenter,
    Kathleen Chelquist
    are-you-there-kathleen-its-me-god.blogspot.com/ 

    • H H

      It is amazing how empowering it is to sit in love while being verbally judged or disrespected by others.  When you don’t take it in or on, you see it for what it is… their own issues and insecurities.  And you are FREE.  You no longer hold on to their limitations and can see them for where they are and sometimes even feel empathy or sympathy towards them.  It’s so different.  And praise DOES change like the wind.  You must have self-love and security without it.  Thanks for the reminder, Mastin and Kathleen. :-) 

    • Suze Jenkins

       … and a great post Kathleen! Thank you

  • http://twitter.com/johnryanmartine John Ryan Martine

    Blame and resentment have become two emotions I’m very familiar with as I move through a (very unexpected) break-up. What I’m discovering, however, are three things:
    1) Whether you like it or not, the vast majority of the time there is real truth behind a break-up. It is possible that your ex-partner recognized that truth before you did. It could be somethin they recognized about themself, or about you, or about the heart of the relationship. And whether it has to do with your partner, or with you, it certainly might be a truth that you’ve been avoiding for a long time.
    2) Focus on what I call “fearless forgiveness” – this humanizes your ex-partner and forces you to see them as someone who has faults, fears, and insecurities exactly like you do. There’s no need to let them off the hook for disrespectful behavior, but fearless forgiveness is a path that leads to better peace within you, and – eventually – to peace between the two of you.
    3) Blame is always a super powerplay. It is a game your ego loves to play. Each day, take small steps to realize blame and anger entrench you in the past and disrespect your own ability to become new, to change, and to love yourself in a way that is truly healing.

  • http://twitter.com/johnryanmartine John Ryan Martine

    Blame and resentment have become two emotions I’m very familiar with as I move through a (very unexpected) break-up. What I’m discovering, however, are three things:
    1) Whether you like it or not, the vast majority of the time there is real truth behind a break-up. It is possible that your ex-partner recognized that truth before you did. It could be somethin they recognized about themself, or about you, or about the heart of the relationship. And whether it has to do with your partner, or with you, it certainly might be a truth that you’ve been avoiding for a long time.
    2) Focus on what I call “fearless forgiveness” – this humanizes your ex-partner and forces you to see them as someone who has faults, fears, and insecurities exactly like you do. There’s no need to let them off the hook for disrespectful behavior, but fearless forgiveness is a path that leads to better peace within you, and – eventually – to peace between the two of you.
    3) Blame is always a super powerplay. It is a game your ego loves to play. Each day, take small steps to realize blame and anger entrench you in the past and disrespect your own ability to become new, to change, and to love yourself in a way that is truly healing.

  • Angela

    Byron Katie taught me to view comments from other people as  just an observation. Just because someone said it, doesn’t make it true. The same goes for myself, just because I believe something that does not make it so. I say as As Louise Hays says- “Thank you for sharing” and I keep it moving.  What strangers think about me is not important.

  • whj

    Dude, you are doing great work…but you overthink things…relax.

  • Lucinda Sage-Midgorden

    It’s interesting how the Uni-verse works. I’ve recently come to the same conclusion about myself. When I have an Ah-ha moment, it’s the result of lots of little puzzle pieces, which come together to show me the thing I’ve been trying to learn, or remember. My moment came as I was directing a play and getting resistance from one of my actors to even talk about her character. I was miffed. I was the director, the one with the vision and all she could say was “Well, it’s my character.” I won’t go through all the little steps to the realization that I’m me at my core and no one, not even me, knows everything about my talents, abilities and potential. That idea was in one line in the play, which ironically was spoken by the actor I mentioned. Speaking about what a woman is, Mrs. Antrobus says, “We’re not what books and plays say we are. We’re not what advertisements say we are. We’re not in the movies and we’re not on the radio. We’re not even what you’re all told and what you think we are: We’re ourselves.” That’s from The Skin of Our Teeth by Thornton Wilder. I think that sentiment applies to every human being. 

    Since my realization, I’ve been working on finding out who I am at my deepest core. When I go there in meditation, I’m safe. No matter what’s happening on the outside. Now I just need to practice going there in my everyday life. To me that’s self-love. And in my opinion the world will be a much better place to live in when we all learn to love ourselves.

    Thanks for your blog posts. I’ve only been reading for a few short sessions, but it’s a wonderful way to begin the day.

  • http://dyannebrown.com/ dyannebrown

    I used to be an overachiever because that was how I controlled my world. As long as I was overachieving, I was earning love and worthy of attention. Any negative comment was crippling to me. It was like a house of cards. If someone criticized me, my whole self-esteem came crumbling down and I questioned everything about myself. It took a long time, and the advice of a great friend, to help me see that criticism is soaked in the insecurity of the person that is giving it. It doesn’t mean that there isn’t something valid in the criticism, but often it is a projection. What I do is that I deal with the feelings that are coming up in me? When someone criticizes me or gives me negative feedback, I ask myself a question. First, is it true? If not, why did it bother me? Within those two questions, I distance myself from the negativity and I check-in with myself to see why I am taking it personally. Often, I find that what I have been given is an insecurity which brings up my own insecurity. In that moment, I have an opportunity to see that the person that is being negative towards me is the same as me. We are both vulnerable and looking for healing. It’s not always easy not to lash out and protect myself, but I have to take a step back and remember that it’s only a bark and not a bite. As you said, I define myself so a bark cannot hurt me. 

  • http://www.nourished-motherhood.com/blog Keya

    I too find that I want to “eat up” all the praise I get from anyone. And ignore or discount the negative. The fact is, both are helpful tools.  I believe that God guides us in many ways and the people we meet and the things that they say have purpose.  I try to take the praise as an indication that I am on the right track and to keep doing what I’m doing and do it well.  I try to take the negative as  an indication that Gods wants me to go in another direction or to at least reexamine what I’m doing in that particular area.  Its when we close our ears and refuse to listen to the people we serve that we stop growing and become resentful.

  • Lucyhouston

    Thanks for a great post Mastin. Know what I love most about this? The journey of awareness that you describe. It wasn’t just one truth. It was an initial understanding and then another unfolding, and then another layer. That is what spiritual growth is like. Once we discover one truth (don’t take the negative personally), we think we’ve discovered the whole thing. But there’s always another layer to spiritual understanding (don’t take the positive personally either).  I love that!

    I try to remember that some people are just discovering beginning stages of where I was ten years ago, and that others are having patience with me as I struggle to understand what they learned ten years ago. It’s all an unfolding process. Thanks for sharing part of your journey with us today!

  • guest

    Thank you Mastin…it was exactly what I needed to hear today.  Struck a cord and created an ah-ha moment.  I am so grateful for your daily emails…they are little reminder growth moments each day.  Bless you for continuing to help us all on our journeys.  

  • alittlebitlostrightnow

    this sounds lovely but seems impossible. wish I knew how

  • Natasha Miller Gutman

    We are all mirrors for one another so when someone gives me positive feedback, I  am so happy for that person because they are seeing something positive within themselves…it might have nothing to do with me. Same with negative feedback…to resolve a conflict, we have to know what the conflict is, it means that person is dealing with something they don’t like within themselves and that is the first step towards transformation.

  • tc

    Not taking EVERYTHING personally is something I struggle with myself . Thank Goodness we are NOT defined by other ppls comments….I would be left a pretty distorted self as the contrast varies greatly between different people in their opinions of me, I used to feel like a pawn shop with parts coming from everywhere. And I used to get so upset, especially by the amount of interest ppl had in my life when I was just minding my own business & trying to hide a little. When I get angry or upset about things I now use drive to stay focussed – i don’t descend or get distracted by others, I channel my energy into my goal & block out the distractions of others. You also don’t want to get stuck analysing EVERY comment to your life – I think ‘gee is that my insecurity or theirs? Do I need to do more self development work on myself? Do I have a problem with XYZ?’ the answer to me is who cares? It’s tiresome to focus all your energ on that especially when it detracts you from what you want to be doing. Keeping good company is the key, & having boosters of ppl who are like minded & support you in your growth & visa versa. That’s my tip for a good life. And ps Mastin I think your ace and really appreciate what you do for all.

  • http://twitter.com/AskVasavi Vasavi Kumar

    I JUST had this conversation with my coach today. That both praise and blame are feedback. and feedback isn’t the “truth”–its just feedback. Thank you so much for this!!

  • Kym

    I love this, Mastin. So much of what I am hearing these days…even from the woman who wrote 50 Shades…is that successful people do what they do because it serves them. I see that people write or draw or whatever to please themselves. Although that sounds somewhat selfish, isn’t it what we are here for? To achieve our own calling and fulfill our purpose. How can we do that if we are continually being influenced by what others are telling us? It’s a double-edged sword for sure. Thanks for your words today…and every day. xo

  • http://twitter.com/CourtneyRioux Courtney Rioux

    Don’t take this personally, but I LOVE that you do the audio recording of your blog.  I listen to it while getting ready in the morning! 

  • Dävid La Rosa

    It makes every bit of sense considering that the true nature of ourselves lies beyond the ego, that false identity within that utilizes this sort of feedback as sustenance. You’re all kinds of awesome, Mastin. Love u man!

  • Hey There

    I love that ! I never thought about it like that… I cant be defined by the praise I get from others..Someone could say whatever they want to say about you or your thoughts but if we base our worth and who we are on someones else’s view…well what if that view changes ? Lets face it change is constant with humans and if we define who we are on someone else’s view.. then who are we really? WE have to define that from within I AGREE Mastin !!

  • d Mpshe

    I used to care about what people used to say about me and most of the things were just to brake me…then I realised that people actually always have things to say-whether I did good,bad or nothing @ all.Now I live according to how I want my life to be and thank you to your posts because they really help to change the way I view life:-)*

  • Caramel_sundae_29

    Really helpful for me! Thanks Mastin :-)

  • Jamie L.

    Where praise and criticism from OTHERS are concerned, I love Christine Arylo’s take on this. Reading her minibook about self-love enlightened me totally. I now make it a daily practice to love myself and my beautiful opinions about me so much that only that matters to me. As for the opinions of others – well I don’t judge their opinions anymore, it’s neither good nor bad to me, I notice them just like an observer on a platform. If there’s something I can take from it to improve myself I will. Then release and forget.

  • Joi

    If I didn’t take praise or blame personally I believe that I would live a more authentic life doing things that please and define me. The fear of disapproval would be absent and I would smile more and my physical ailments would vanish and life would actually be sweeter. It is unfortunate, however, that the average person, I, cannot seem to just “care less” what people think and stop doing certain things based on how I think people will react to them. When I can figure out how to master this one hurdle… I will grow my wings!

  • http://twitter.com/Leah_Cevoli Leah

    Such a great topic Mastin.  I was recently asked this very question in an interview.  http://youtu.be/7avVq0kQfcc   You do have to honor the good and the bad, and I LOVE that you have realized that you can interact with the negative in a way to promote change not adversity or greater difference.  I’m going to try that next time I’m faced with negative feedback. <3

  • Suki

    This is so funny. I came to this conclusion in meditation last night and then I read this this morning!!! Love!!! For me personally I have been looking at ego and identity and ways where my being wasn’t so caught up with an unstable foundation. This may be the very practice required. Should be fun to experience and play with!