Of late, I have been all about self-improvement and self-preservation. I have come to learn that in life, complement and criticism are two mutually exclusive things. When you are doing something that is right by you, chances are that it will either sit well with or cause a stir up among the people around you. In either case, you will be subject to either complement or criticism. This can either be a blessing or a problem because it determines the relationships between people. I believe that this is the reason why there is love or hate at first sight or rather first impression. To meet the goal of self-preservation, I tend to reflect upon everything and learn. Most importantly, I embraced one important rule, “never let it go to your head.” Let’s explore this rule.
Social relationships are crucial. This reason among others justifies the phrase, “your network is your net worth.” We all need to know people to thrive and be successful in this life. What most of us fail to acknowledge is that we don’t just need the right people. In the same way, a coin has two sides and each story has two sides, we also need two types of people; good and bad people. In every situation, people are good and bad depending on your point of view. Acknowledging this hypothesis is important because it helps you acknowledge the role of complements and criticisms. This is primarily because a statement can be a compliment and a critique depending on where you’re standing. Most importantly, listen to each statement with equal measure but never let it go to your head.
I love compliments and hate criticism. It’s human to react to the world this way. If people look at us nicely or say nice things (complements) they almost instantly earn favor at first sight or first talk (if that’s a thing). The vice versa is also true and this is all allowed. But for the sake of self-preservation and self-improvement, I strongly believe that taking people’s expressions to heart and mind derails us from achieving what we set our minds towards. It may either help make us better or worse people in society.
Look at it this way, you get complimented for doing what you’re supposed to be doing, and most often than not you will think of it as an act of philanthropy. I love fictional stories so I will add one to this post to drive this point home.
I prayed and fasted severally pleading with God to bring the right man my way. My character had been developed severally in the streets of Nairobi. Soon enough I met the love of my life so I continued to thank the Lord by dedicating my life to his service. I dedicated my life to my husband, my work, and God’s service. I believed that each wife has an obligation to these pillars of life. We were blessed with one child and I was living my dream life.
My husband was not as religious as I had hoped for a husband but was the best family man. He was dedicated to me and our child, taking care of us day in and day out. Where he didn’t meet my expectations, he supplemented in other aspects and that was fine than me. I was getting more than most women ever hoped for and I was happy.
My fellow union members from work complimented him for treating us like royalty. They often made jokes about how lucky I was to have such a man and family even in my husband’s presence. He often shrugged it off with an embarrassed laugh or scoff. We met often since my husband dropped me off at work and picked me up in the evenings since my workplace was along a drive-through in the central business district. On most Friday nights, he accompanied me during work-related dinners with my colleagues.
As time progressed, his behavior evolved gradually. I mistook it as the consequence of fatigue and pressure from his job since he held a managerial position. What I didn’t know was that my colleague’s compliments were slowly going to his head. What he did out of love and responsibility to his family became philanthropy. We would order take-outs especially when we arrived home late but now he wasn’t taking it.
One fateful night he bluntly said that he treated me too well to eat snacks as dinner adding that a man of his stature deserved better. This happened severally. He stopped dropping me off at work and picking me up even though we only had one car. My husband had allowed complements to go to his head and now he was acting up. This happened for close to a year, to the extent that we almost ended our union over it.
We talked to severally people about it among them two therapists and three church elders. Each person we talked to had a different perception of the situation and suggested different remedies. Some suggested that I was at fault and sided with him. Others acknowledged my concerns about his behavioral change and considering that there was no infidelity, something else warranted his behavior. After a calm sit down to talk about our issues, he acknowledged that he had let compliments go to his head. He felt philanthropic treating me the way he did.
The constant compliments from our friends had made him question what I brought to the table to deserve such royal treatment. On the other hand, his friends criticized him for allowing me to order take-out when we arrived home late and were tired from work. They pointed out that he treated me so well and therefore deserved a home-cooked meal every day whether or not I was a career woman.
Complements from one side and criticism from the other side put our marriage in the crosshairs of divorce. I didn’t see anything wrong in everything I did because I had not changed any routine in the house. I did not know what I was doing wrong and he didn’t tell me directly.
This fictional story might not cut it out so let’s explore some real-life experiences. I was a very good student and teachers often asked other students to emulate my exemplary performance. This got to my head and I thought that I was better than all the other pupils. At some point, I stopped studying since I believed that I didn’t need to study to excel but the tables turned when almost half of the class performed better than me on one exam. Complements had made me lose focus and therefore I lost my cool.
In another instance, a teacher had told my deskmate that he would never score above the mean score in social studies. My deskmate was smart but the criticism from the teacher had gotten to his head and no matter how hard we studied, he never seemed to get the concepts right.
I have a feeling that people have complimented or criticized your actions severally. I mean, I have and I dealt with either of them differently. Out of my experiences, I came out with one rule, “Never let it go to your head.” This was because I always stick to my plan and most time I get my expected results. You can either be right or wrong but in any case, trust your judgment or gut because you are often on the right track when you do.
Do you agree with my analogy? Have you been complimented and criticized? If so, how did you deal with it? Did you let it go to your head? Please let’s engage in the comment section or the forum section.