We all have read the story of ‘The Wind and The Sun’, the one about who is stronger between the two of them. Well, let me narrate it in short!
Once there was an argument between Wind and the Sun, both claiming to be more powerful than the other. Their argument was going nowhere. It was then that they spotted a man walking on the road, and they agreed on a challenge to decide the winner. This man was wearing a coat, and the challenge was to remove the coat from his back. Whosoever succeeded in doing this, would be acknowledged as the stronger one. Wind stepped up first, to give this a try. It started blowing harder and harder, and the coat almost flew off the man’s back in the strong gusty winds, but he clutched it tightly around him, and managed to hold on to his coat with great difficulty. It was the turn of the Sun next; it started shining brighter and brighter, and ensured that the blazing rays fell directly on the man’s head. Very soon the man was extremely uncomfortable and, sweating profusely, he took off his coat and ran to take cover under a nearby tree. The Sun was thus declared the winner!
In life the analogy to this story could be a comparison between the impacts of positive and negative reinforcements, on us.
Positive reinforcements or praises are like the Wind. On the other hand negative reinforcements are like the strong and harsh Sun, which makes us uncomfortable with its intensity.
Positive comments are like flowers that, when showered, fall soft and fragrant on us; leaving us feeling happy and aglow. Whereas any form of negative comments hit us like barbs, leaving us hurt and injured.
We at times justify our acts and say that if we are telling others about their shortcomings, then we are doing this only for their good. However, more often than not, the intention is not so noble. Consciously or unconsciously, we might be doing this because of sheer negativity; to express our anger, our helplessness, our jealousy, and many such other emotions!
We are extremely vulnerable to any form of negative reinforcements, so much so that, involuntarily, we react negatively too. This leads to a horrid cycle of negative play and counterplay, causing havoc to relationships.
My takeaways from various sources of learning, on this matter, are as follows:
- To be mindful of my reaction to any situation, every moment of my life.
I try not to react, immediately. I give myself some time, to let the situation seep in, and then I think of a reaction that would help better the situation, if possible. I try to avoid anything that would make it worse.
2. I prefer to give positive feedback, without compromising with truth.
I try not to go overboard while doing so; keeping emotions on check helps me.
3. I keep telling myself that I am not the saviour of the world!
It is better to give advice, only when it is asked for. Earlier, I would not think twice before setting out to point out the things to people that, I believed, were harming them.
4. I am cautious in gauging the receptivity to my feedback. The moment I perceive a wall coming up in between, it is a red flag for me.I immediately retrace my steps.
I always thought that it was my moral duty to keep on trying, till I was able to show the right perspective, to the people I cared for. But I have now learnt that even love does not have the power to change perceptions!
5. Everyone lives life according to his/her choice, whatever the outcome may be. I can only be available for help/support, if it is needed.
Let us not confuse positive feedback with plain flattery!
They say, Life is what we make out of it. It is a resultant of innumerable things - tangible as well as intangible; we have control only over our actions, which make up just one part of it.
I have learnt that it is prudent to do our best, in that little segment alone. Anything beyond that, is fruitless.
What do you say? Do you agree? Or, do you disagree ?
Myra’s presentation was over. Hers was the last one, and the loud applause left no doubt as to which was the best! Myra kept sitting at her place. It was a conference of psychologists from all over the country. She had made this presentation, on the basis of her personal experience. She had seen how her younger brother would reject their father’s love, only because father was strict. She remembered how much their father loved her brother, and how hard he tried to change his lazy, indisciplined lifestyle, right from the childhood days, but failed miserably in doing so. Unfortunately her father’s frustrations and helplessness got expressed many a time in his words and in his behaviour, and that was what her brother had always held against him! Who benefitted in the circumstances? Neither of them did. In fact, her brother broke off all ties with the family, because of this perceived notion of his about their father.
Negative enforcements do penetrate much more than Positive ones, and cause irreparable damage. These even have the power to subjugate Love!