June 4, 2007

The three-to-one rule

A long time ago, someone, probably my mom, told me that it takes 3 positive messages to counteract a negative one.

The idea stuck with me, even though I'm horrid at applying it.

I often think complimentary thoughts about the amazing people in my life. But I rarely say them.

On the other hand, I'm fairly free with my brutal honesty. If I feel hurt by someone's actions, I let them know. If I'm confused by someone's actions, I question them. Bluntly. I've mellowed as I've aged, and I've learned to keep these thoughts to myself more often than I once did. But I still let them fly without the cushion of 3 of the many positive thoughts I most certainly am thinking about anyone I care enough about to say the negative stuff to.

Basically, I don't follow the 3-to-1 rule. And I should. Because I don't want to be the reason someone thinks less of themselves. If it is true that people need 3 positive messages to internalize one negative one, then I need to grow. I'm great at conveying constructive criticism. But it's still criticism. It needs to be guided with love and admiration. It needs three positive thoughts to be voiced as well. And I'm always thinking them, so I might as well start saying them too.

Lately, I've been thinking quite a bit about the next phase of being an adult. What it means. How to gracefully become a woman in my 30s who can hold her head up high with the knowledge of her crazy 20's, but be proud of the person she's become, ideally one who's more even-keel and responsible with human emotions than her former self.

I'm also wondering how to become that woman who doesn't plan to have children anytime soon and yet completely respects and admires women who make an alternate choice. I've been thinking about how my selection of life path will necessarily distance me from many of my closest friends during this decade simply because we won't share similar experiences.

The reality of the growing separation between my closest friends/family and I as I age and evolve became very apparent during the wedding process. It's sad, but true. We all grow, and thus, many of us grow apart. I think part of aging gracefully is learning how to negotiate that reality and maintain connections that are truthful and honest yet allow for the growing distance.

And so, I've decided that one of the best things I can do to help myself transform into this decade of life is to embrace the 3-to-1 rule. I've rejected quite a bit from my mom over the years. But it turns out, she's often a wise woman, in her own way.

So here's to me being more openly positive. Here's to me vocalizing my friends' and families' strengths, successes, and general fabulousness. I am very lucky to have them all in my life and not a day goes by where I don't think a thought of gratitude. It's time to sing those thoughts in public.

Wish me luck.

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