The Half Empty Glass

Imagine you are at a wedding where the bride looks stunning, the groom looks handsome, the food is great and the flower arrangements on the table are beautiful, but the bride is a few inches taller than the groom. I guarantee you that a good portion of the people in that wedding will comment on that fact. If she has more money than him, then people will comment on that too and if she has a higher educational standing than he has, then the comments will get more vindictive.

The groom will be labeled as someone who chose the bride for her money and the bride will be labeled as someone who was too tall and too desperate so she picked to be with this groom. Most people will forget the fact that she is happy and he is happy. They will forget the flower arrangements, the beautiful setting, the great food, and the great music and they will just focus on that.  Let’s face it, most people are pre-programmed to see the glass half empty.

We hear different comments every day . Some of them are compliments while  others are comments about the world, the society, the weather, politics, and current affairs. We also hear comments that are not so great. These are usually criticisms of our work, who we are, our looks, our behavior, or any other action we make. We are also subjects of personal attacks directed towards who we are and what we believe. I guarantee you that most of us will forget the compliments and the comments about life and we will only dwell on the negative criticisms.   This is again because we are programmed to see the glass half empty.

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But why is it that we dwell on the negative, is it a lack of confidence or is it a lack of faith in ourselves?

In looking at this issue, I realized certain things about myself. I realized that I too have a tendency to forget a positive comment easily and dwell on the negative. I realized that I too take negative comments thrown my way too seriously.. I even remember some negative comments took me months to get over, because I too was seeing the glass half empty.

Someone  once said to my face that my writing was terrible and that I lack talent and creativity, note that I’m giving you the polite version of what was actually said. Naturally,  at the time , that comment bothered me a lot and it made  me wonder if I should look into a career change.

I even  remember sitting   in a Toastmaster meeting, a few hours after that comment was said,  feeling very down . I wasn’t paying attention to the speakers because I was too busy  re-playing  that comment  in my head along with  any other negative words said to me over the past three decades of my life. I was allowing my self to dwell. 

Thankfully,   I didn’t have a major role in that meeting . I just had to evaluate someone.  So in my self created drama, and while waiting for that person to give their portion  I decided to play a little game with myself. I  decided to sit in my seat and count in my head  how many people in that room at that given time would actually say something negative about me or would actually think I’m a person who lacks talent, ethics, morality or any other good trait. I needed to feel something other than self pity. So I occupied myself with that little pursuit and it worked !

While surveying the people’s faces, I realized that a good number in that room don’t know me enough so they would not say  anything positive or negative about me, after all I am not the center of the universe. Then, in that same room a good proton of the people  know me enough and if asked they would probably say something positive about me, and of course as is the case in any group dynamic one or two people in that room  do know me and for their personal opinion would probably say something negative about me if asked. It was then that I decided that one person, one bad comment, one negative feedback should really not suck too much of my energy.

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The truth is that a few people will have something negative to say about us no matter who we are and what we do and many people will have nothing to say about us because we don’t occupy that much of their thoughts . Yet, there are those who support us and actually say something good about us. Looking at the issue from that perspective  , I concluded  that the negative comments we hear are not that bad. They are only generated from a person’s opinion. Therefore,  we have a choice to actually care about the opinion ask about it and actually seek an answer or simply  to  let it slide.

After all, should we really care about that one person who frowned when they saw us walk into the  room and  forget all the people who did actually greet us? Should we remember that one compliment we did not get and forget every other compliment we did get?  Should we dwell on that one response we didn’t get to our message and forget every person who did  respond? And, after getting an evaluation for our work should we really forget everything good that was said and remember the one person who said something bad?

On a larger and more elaborate  scale, we should really ignore the lady saying her husband is awful, unless of course he is beating her every night and actually doing things that make him bad.  Because, other than that he is probably ok. We should also ignore the guy commenting about how awful his wife is, because unless she is abusing him every day she is probably ok.  I think we should also ignore the person saying Amman is an awful city, because they too are seeing the glass half empty unless of course they give a logical reason for why they see the city that way.

Most of all, we should only dwell on the opinion we have of ourselves because that opinion is the only one that we actually have to live with.

So when seeing things this way, I confirm that the the  glass is never  half empty. In fact , it is always  full . I guess you just need to look at it from the right angle.

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