On seeing the good in what people do

I was reading this on Medium via my mobile browser and I forgot to save the link, was too excited to comment on the following few paragraphs of quoted text. If you find the author, please thank her for me.

“But there is something to be said about taking the time to focus on the good, even if it is ordinary and routine and perceived as going as planned. Because it means we’re doing something right. We’re doing something consistently right. And that isn’t something that should ever be overlooked by anyone, no matter what, where or when it is, or who you are.

Take the time to tell people what they mean to you, what they’re doing right, what they could be doing better and how they could be doing it. Show them how you care, how you’re forever grateful for them, and how you appreciate their presence and the way they touch your life.

There is so much power in compliments and encouragement and support and feedback and constructive criticism. In reminding people that the things they “should” be doing, they’re doing great at.”

I’m sorta kinda not-at-all moving on from a breakup with the love of my life. He and I would (and still do, in fact) talk for hours about self development and what efforts needed to be exerted to improve the relationship. Now, we talk about what efforts need to be exerted for self-improvement. For the most part, the efforts towards change we needed, needed to be mine. I don’t feel like I ever really had any complaints about his personality that were big enough to make me want to change him the way he actively tried to change the shitty things about me. I also have a problem with honesty and communication — and he’s got a bad habit of machine-gun questions, so I’ve never really brought anything up like that with him. He’d hate it when he’d point something out to me and I’d counter with how he’d be guilty of the same infuriating thing.

One of the big things we’d talk endlessly about would be my celebrating something before actually having achieved it, as he called it. I’d say “I’m through with lying, it’s not for me.” After 28 years of it, it’s rather a difficult habit to kick — omission and falsehood. Then when caught in a lie from before I made this little declaration, I’d be so hurt and miffed and offended that I’d be taken to task for something I did *gasp* BEFORE I’d made this wonderful life-changing decision. We’d fight about it, he’d point out that I can’t celebrate something I haven’t achieved yet, I’d get bummed out, and then I wouldn’t bother trying to be better at honesty.

I figured, “I’m going to be given shit about lying or omitting facts no matter what, so why bother making huge and sweeping declarations? It’ll sting less when he calls me on them if I don’t have the big banner of Change and Improvement hanging on the fireplace.”

Then, slowly, I’d slide back into my habits. Less lying, more omitting though. So I guess that was an improvement? I wouldn’t know. I’d think it was, but if you’d ask him, I doubt we’d have the same answer. Eventually, my problem became “not allowing for the bad behaviour to recur, knowing my tendencies”. Its really rather exhausting, all this self-improvement. Sometimes I wonder if it’s all worth it if I’m not happy going about it, trying and failing, not trying at all.

I think that if he had been quicker to focus on the good I was doing, meaning the times I actively pursued the whole-truth-telling thing, then it might have stuck more. Maybe if he had, I wouldn’t be questioning the ultimate good of something intrinsically good because I’d have seen the improvement and the good progress we were achieving. Sadly however, that’s not the case.

I find myself constantly kicking myself over the talks we have, because I still genuinely want to get back together with him and if he would feel the same, he deserves to have an honest me. I, logically, deserve an honest me. It helps so much towards happier, healthier interactions with people I love. Which isn’t many people to begin with.

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