Praise. When was the last time you received or gave genuine heartfelt praise? We know it feels good, we know it is useful. On reflection, I bet we spend a lot more time criticising than praising ourselves.
In my previous career as a teacher, praise was present in my life all the time. I gave it, I received it. It went beyond the “likes” and”wow I love it” that we see so much on social media nowadays. The praise I was given or received was as constructive as criticism. That kind of praise works because it’s not a pure self-esteem or ego boost, it is actually a true, genuine recognition of effort and hard-work.
Scouring social media as we so often do, it appears people have become complacent in their ability to praise others, (Looks like somehow people have become lazy, ) ultimately affected by the number of hearts and followers on their ‘feed’, myself included. I don’t think I would have noticed if it wasn’t for the fact that I utilise social media in the promotion of my own business. As this way of giving praise is new to me, and I am not that good at playing the social media game, I have had to re-adjust myself and go back to the basics.
The basics are simple, and go along the lines of: no matter what you do in life, no matter your age, you must never lose sight of your qualities, your hard work, your efforts even if sometimes they don’t pay off in the way that you hoped. Even if they don’t get you instantly thousands of quick validations. When we receive genuine, heartfelt and sincere praise, it is worth it’s weight in gold. Gold is worth keeping, saving, looking at, and indeed, sharing. When you get knocked down, when you feel unseen and unvalued, when you have forgotten what people value you for, go back to these praises. They don’t praise a fleeting moment lost in someone’s feed, they praise you, the person, the hard work, the efforts. It’s not ego boosting, it’s healthy and sane.
How to recognise/make a constructive praise:
- It’s longer than 3 words.
- It’s recognising actions and efforts, not just the results.
- It’s not necessarily made in public.
- The people praising show how you/your work has affected them in a positive way.
What to do with them:
- accept them (yes, that can totally be a happy dance)
- write them down and keep them in one place.
- do something with them, keep them alive (post it on the fridge, lipstick on the mirror)
- go back to them whenever you need to remind yourself you are worth more than you think.
I save my praise both publicly – because I have to- and privately. Privately, because some of the praises I have received are to me, so powerful, that I want to keep them just for myself, for when I need a serious pick-me-up.
I started writing this a couple weeks ago, and needed to let it brew a while. Yesterday, I received the feedback from my first long term photography “student” Jeni, from Jeni Wood Photography and it knocked me out in the best possible way possible! As I added it to my notebook, it reminded me how good it feels to receive praise, and how pumped I got before going to a family shoot, how it motivated me to finish off the planning of the french workshop I am hosting online in April.
Don’t forget to make someone feel that positive today, or tomorrow, or next week. And yes, that person should be yourself too.