Thursday, February 13, 2014

Emotional Gravity

Someone says to you, ‘I really, really loved your book.’ Someone else says to you, ‘I liked you book, but…’

Which of these comments is likely to have the most impact on you? Which will you take to bed with you and replay over and over again in your mind?

I will take this one step further. You receive, over several days or even weeks, hundreds of emails praising your book. Then, on the nth day, you receive one email from a reader who didn’t enjoy the book. Which, for you, weighs greatest in your mind, the hundreds of positive emails or the one critical email?

We would all like to say that we can easily brush aside the negative email. It’s just one opinion among many, right? It’s not possible to please everyone. Perhaps I can learn from the person who didn’t like the book. Yet despite this self-talk, I am willing to wager that the single negative email will drag you down much further than the hundreds of positive emails were able to raise you up. I suspect that the world of our emotions is governed by a law of gravity similar to, if not stronger than, the law of gravity that operates in the physical realm. It is against this natural and pervasive downward force that all praise has to operate. It takes work to lift us up; but none to drag us back down again. Carrying this analogy further, it takes constant praise (force) to maintain us at a given height, and without that praise (force) we fall.

I don’t think I am alone in having this experience. I suspect many of us would like to deny that it is true of us. Perhaps after time we can become hardened or immune to the things that impact negatively upon us. I’m not sure I am at that point yet. I envy those who possess seemingly indestructible self-esteem. At the same time, I don’t actually believe in its reality. They are just better actors than I am. Nevertheless, perhaps if I act the role long enough it will eventually become my reality.

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