Dwelling on Compliments vs. Criticism

Why is it that when someone says something negative to us, it tends to stick? We can hear 500 compliments, followed by one negative statement and that negative statement just hangs over our heads like a dark cloud for the rest of the day, week, month, or even year. I can recall negative things that were said about me years ago, but can I recall the positives?

Unfortunately, our brains are hardwired to think like this. We’re wired to focus on the negatives, as if we can come up with a solution to fix the things that are “wrong” with us according to other people. Well, I have news for ya. The only opinion that matters is yours. Chances are when someone is speaking negatively about you (either to you or behind your back), it’s a reflection of what’s going on in their own lives. The things that people are the most insecure about are the SAME things they bash others for.

For example, I know that when I used to be super self conscious about my own body, I noticed the imperfections in others. I never really spoke about them, but the thoughts did arise in my mind. But it’s because I was dealing with my OWN issues about my body. Now that I have chosen to accept myself for who I am rather than what size I wear, I never even think about the way others look. Everyone has a story, everyone has a journey, and NONE of us have the right to judge. The old saying is true: you never know what someone else is going through.

So how can we hardwire our brains to think differently: to focus on the positive things instead of the negative?

It’s easy, it just requires effort and practice. Next time someone pays you a compliment, write it down. Remember it. Let it sink it. Next time someone says something negative about you, redirect your thoughts to something positive — something you’re looking forward to, a positive affirmation about your self worth, or another compliment that you’ve received in the past. It all starts with recognizing that we’re paying attention more to the negative. Once we realize we’re doing it, it’s much easier to correct.

Remember, ultimately it’s not about what anyone else says about you. It’s how you feel about yourself. You’re the ONLY person with power over your emotions. 

Instead of dwelling on criticism, let’s dwell on compliments. One of my favorite compliments I’ve ever received is from my dad:


Sure, I appreciate comments about my looks, but it’s when someone compliments my heart that really touches me. I really do genuinely care for others and I’m always happy to be reassured that it comes across that way 🙂

What’s one of the best compliments you’ve ever received? Share the love below. Let’s spread the positive thoughts!

[Of Possible Interest]:

How to Accept Criticism with Grace and Appreciation via ZenHabits
Everyone Will Always Have an Opinion


20 thoughts on “Dwelling on Compliments vs. Criticism

  1. I wouldn’t say it is one of the best, but I recently started my blog only back in October and it has been a struggle for me, to not only write (I never thought of myself as much of a writer) but also to continue to write when I was only getting 2 views a post, it seemed pointless and what I was doing didn’t seem to make a difference, but then I began getting a couple comments from classmates, one said they really enjoyed my posts, my roommate said they made her want to adopt healthier eating habits, and another liked the content wondering what I was going to school for (thinking it was nutrition related when I am actually a marketing major). It was a huge compliment to know that I may not have a ton of views but the people who have come across my posts it has made a difference and what can be better than that!

    • Ugh I totally feel ya on that one! I see bloggers who do all these sponsored posts and I wonder how I’ll ever get to that level of success (or IF I will)… but remember, they all started just like we did! It’s those little compliments and the lives you touch that make all the difference 🙂

  2. It’s so easy to get swayed but others opinions, especially when we care too much about what other people think. I am guilty of this. Thank you for this reminder to stay humble, true, and love ourselves, despite what people can say.


  3. What you said about noticing the imperfections in others when you were dealing with your own issues? DEFINITELY. I was the most judgmental when I was the most insecure, and not just with my body, but with my food, workouts, clothes, everything… It was such a gradual process that I don’t even know how it happened, but I’ve become a lot more comfortable in myself, and the judgments went away as well. Glad to know I’m not alone in that 🙂

    • Thanks! It’s embarrassing to post that I was judging others to make myself feel better, but I think others can relate to that and most of us are definitely guilty of it. Once I fixed my own issues, those thoughts seemed to disappear. I used to judge what people ate like CRAZY and would make comments, mostly because I was jealous that they had the mental freedom to enjoy a cheeseburger once in a while and I didn’t. Now all is well and I love cheeseburgers and people once again 🙂

  4. What a sweet and important reminder from your dad. My dad’s note would probably go something like this >> “Angie you are good person remember that love pa.” Lol. Either way, I love this post and it’s really true, I think we are also hardwired to think negative things sometimes about others but as long as we can stop ourselves from judging and recognize what we are doing and why, then we can move on. We’re only human!

  5. This post is great – and I agree with everything you said! We’re so hard on ourselves and it’s so easy to remember the things that hurt us or our feelings, but there must be 10x more things that people said that made us feel good that we just can’t remember! Very sweet text from your dad!! 🙂

  6. Great post! Life is 10% what happens to you, and 90% how you handle it. That is true. That was very nice of your Dad and from the little time I have been around you I can tell you really do care about other people Look at the comments you get regularly on your blog. You are making a difference in the lives of others.

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