The Tyranny of Praise and Blame

Charme RobartsThe world is full of fascinating people who think about and do all kinds of interesting things. I found websites about what to do to help butterflies who (or is it that?) get stuck in their cocoons. You should search for this idea — it is actually nice to know that some people take time to care about this. You can even get a kit called Bring Home the Butterflies. Who knew? Not me.

But speaking of being stuck, this week in eleven:eleven we are keeping the ball rolling in our discussion of ways of thinking and behaving that keep us stuck emotionally and that can limit our experience of wholehearted living. Tom talked about the constructs of Success and Failure and Fame and Shame, and this week I’ll talk about Praise and Blame.

Everyone gets caught up in these pairs of thinking and doing. As always it’s good to question these things, trying always to get loose from the things that squeeze the life out of us!

Praise and blame will always come our way no matter what we do. Most of us hate being blamed and love being praised. Lack of praise sometimes leads to creating a story in our heads about how disrespected we are and how rude and self-centered other people are. Great dramas and comedies are created along these lines.

We all care about praise and blame, but maybe the question is how much should we care? Is there a way to cut the strings that run between what others think or say about what we are doing and how we feel? Those strings are like puppet strings — someone pulls and we jump.

Here is where I want to say “just cut the strings!” But of course it’s not that simple. But hopefully we can make a little progress by recognizing our attitudes about praise and blame.

Maybe 14-year-old Thomas Wright from Wisconsin gives us an idea. Thomas placed second in the National Geographic Bee this week. Interviewed by a CBS correspondent about his feelings after not getting first place, he gracefully answered that of course he would have liked to win the top honor, “but,” he added with a slight grin, “I was really thinking about how my hair looked.”

I hope to see you Sunday!



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