There is a quote in the movie Pretty Woman where Julia Robert's character says, "The bad stuff is so much easier to believe."
I think about this quote sometimes when I get ten positive emails and then one negative email. For some reason, that negative email is the one that sticks in my mind. Why the heck is that?
Sometimes when people say, "I am your biggest fan, I love your work." I find myself thinking that they don't really know me. But when I get a review saying, " I didn't really like your book." I find myself thinking they are on to me, that they have figured out I am not a very good writer. I give more credit to the negative review reflexively.
But after I sit with it and think about it, I find the facts and the real truth. The facts are: I have only received a handful of negative emails and reviews and hundreds of positive ones. Most of the negative reviews are more about the person writing them than about me. And most of the negative reviews are inaccurate when they describe why they didn't like my book. (For example, one woman said there were no new concepts in the book and another said they had wanted more discussion of diabetes.)
I think the reflex reaction is actually habitual. For many years I had the belief that I wasn't good enough. I spent years creating and looking for evidence to prove this belief. It was my way of being in the world to look for "bad reviews" to prove that I wasn't good enough nor would I ever be good enough. So now, when this evidence falls in my lap, it is almost like I can't help myself. It feels familiar to use it against myself.
Evidence against the belief still takes a bit of effort to believe. It is still not completely natural for me to immediately hear, accept and believe genuine compliments or praise. I have to remind myself to take it in, to pause long enough to listen, and not to dismiss such important feedback.
So, yes, I do agree with Julia in Pretty Woman when she says the bad stuff is easier to believe. It is the easy, unconscious, and painful way to live. So many of us have lived this way for so long that we have to make an effort not to. I do this for a living. I do work every single day on my thoughts. And still I have to stop and remind myself of the facts and the truth of what each review, person, or email is saying.
I think it is important to hear all the feedback and listen to what each person is saying. Some of the negative stuff is true and can be used in a constructive way to improve. This is very different than blinding believing the negative just because it is easier.
My new policy is to take each and every positive email I get, read it thoroughly and let it sink in. If someone has taken the time to write me and generously share their positive thoughts, then I can take the time and effort it requires to believe what they are telling me.
The bad stuff is easier to believe, but the good stuff is so much better!
Make the effort.