“Isn’t it kind of silly to think that tearing someone else down builds you up?” – Sean Covey
I heard a story recently about a woman who decided to make some changes in her life. She decided to start eating better and working out regularly. The results of her hard work and willpower were noticeable. She felt better physically and mentally. She also lost weight and toned up. All good things, right? For some unfathomable reason, some people around her felt the need to tell her that she had gotten too skinny and needed to “eat a pork chop”.
A few years ago when I decided (again) to go back to school, I told a friend about my plans. He just laughed at me. He made a sarcastic comment to the effect of, “yeah, I’m sure you’ll finish this time,” and laughed. He knew that college was something I had tried a few times before and hadn’t gotten through.
Why do we choose to tear people down when they’ve accomplished things? When people make the effort to better themselves, why do some of us have an immediate need to poke holes in those efforts? Initially, I’d point to low self-esteem and general insecurity. We see others making positive changes and feel that we’re stagnant, so we decide to minimize what they have done. Or, we feel insecure about our appearances or perceived lack of accomplishments, so, to make ourselves feel better, we take whatever steps necessary to diminish others. Put more succinctly, per psychologist Jeffrey Sherman,
“When we feel bad about ourselves, we can denigrate other people, and that makes us feel better about ourselves.”
The flip side of that is that we are far less likely to put others down when we feel better about ourselves. Instead of wasting time bringing others down for their positive steps, take some of your own. Not happy with your weight, for example? Exercise. Eat better. Set goals and work to achieve them. Encourage others and let them encourage you. Stop wasting precious time and energy on tearing other people down who have made decisions to better themselves. That is a poor substitute for making yourself better or solving your own issues.
If it is true that our general outlook can frame how we view others, there are solutions to that as well. Learn how to feel better about yourself. Determine where your weaknesses are and address them. Calling someone “too skinny” won’t make you skinnier. An exercise routine and a healthier diet will, though. Laughing at someone for wanting to further their education won’t advance your career any quicker, but setting goals for advancement for yourself sure
Start making yourself feel better. Get you figured out before you start casting aspersions on those around you. You will make exactly zero progress by tearing down someone else’s. Hop to it.
Have an awesome Tuesday,
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