I’ve been thinking about this for a while now, and seeing this picture on Facebook inspired me to write a blog post about it.
I'm sorry that I can't remember what page I found it on! If I do find out, I'll let you know. If it happens to be your, please tell me!
This is another of my happiness posts, about how we can feel happy more often (remember, not find it or achieve it).
You know how sometimes we get a bit of selective memory loss? We all have it. Some things come back to us with alarming clarity while often if an event is described, even from the recent past, we’ll screw up our foreheads and ask, “Was I even there?”
I’ve decided that maybe this can be a positive thing, a tool we can use, if we select our memories wisely!
When I was in middle school, a teacher asked us to work in groups and think of things people had said to us that had made us feel a certain way, and that we would always remember. We wrote them down on a sheet, and then a member of each group was asked to go up and write them on the whiteboard.
She’d divided the board up into two categories: positive and negative.
The negative side had teeny tiny words crammed in every corner, every single colour of board marker, everyone’s handwriting all muddled together.
The positive side contained a single, solitary sentence, and to be honest I can’t even remember what it was.
Conclusion: when someone says something hurtful to you, it stays with you forever. But if someone pays you a compliment, it’s likely to be buried in your mind by more “important” stuff in a few short days.
An example I can give myself is my accent. I was born in England and have lived in Ireland for almost six years now. My accent has never changed, because I have never made an effort to change it. If anything, I have tried to keep it the same. I like the way I talk. Unfortunately, this led to me being picked on for a lot of my school life. People telling me I was pronouncing words wrong (in my own language), or that I was talking “too posh” or simply strangers following me around the school for the sole purpose of mimicking every word I said. Sometimes, most of the time really, people would be doing it for good-natured, friendly banter. Others just used it as an excuse to bully me, and I found this really hurtful.
It didn’t stop me from talking, fortunately or unfortunately! ...but it did make me feel a bit embarrassed, even ashamed or afraid, to read in class or speak publicly.
Then in Transition Year I took part in a poetry recital competition, “Poetry Aloud”. It was a great feeling—public speaking is actually something I’m quite good at, and I finally had the confidence not to worry about what others thought.
The next year, I took part again and got through to the semi-finals in Dublin. There was a break after reciting my first poem and a girl came up to me in the bathroom and said, “I thought you did really well. You’re so lucky. If I had your accent, I’d never stop talking!”
This girl probably has no recollection of the event, but I remember it to this day. I’m so grateful to her. Since then, a few other people have said they love my accent, too. It made me think: why should I keep those negative comments in my mind, when I could be focusing on that lovely girl who paid me such a nice complement?
So that’s my new plan, and I’d advise you to do the same. Forget about the time someone said “You need to lose weight” or “you’re too skinny” or “look at the state of your hair” and remember the time someone told you that you’re beautiful. Believe it or not, they’re not just trying to be nice. People rarely make the effort to compliment unless they mean it. So remember that; don’t dwell on the negatives.
I’ve noted down a few lovely things people have said to me in the past year. I’ve had my share of nasty comments, too, but they have no place in my blog post or my memory.
· You are so beautiful.
· You’re beautiful, you know that? Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
· I wish I had your confidence.
· That’s a brilliant idea!
· Thanks for always being there for me.
· I’m asking for your help because I know you work really hard.
· You don’t even need to wear makeup.
· Your teeth look very nice lately. (A bit random, mummy, but thank you all the same).
· If it wasn’t for you, everything would fall apart.
· I love your blog! I read it all the time.
· You’re so motivated.
· I love your accent.
· Your voice is so sexy. (2013, everyone, the year I was first referred to as sexy).
· You’re amazing, girl!
· I love you.
· You’re such a good friend.
· You have a real talent for essay-writing.
· Dude. You are honestly the sweetest person I know. (Thanks, dude!)
· You make the BEST food!
· And the funniest thing I heard all year: “I assumed you’d have an exotic boyfriend with a name like Christian.”
It’s only in writing this that I’ve realised there were so many! I’d intended to put down about five or so... I’ve also found some of them to come from the least likely of sources, remembering that people can be so lovely sometimes!
If you feel like you’re not hearing any of these, then either search your memory harder or find some new friends. No, it’s not easier said than done.
Catherine Ann x