Articles for April 2012

Erroneous Feedback

A couple weeks back I was doing some research for my next blog post… I mean I was resting and recoving… Oh, who am I kidding? It was a Friday night. Phillip was at the fire barn. I was home alone. I was actually planted firmly on the couch watching back to back (to back to back) episodes of Say Yes to the Dress, Atlanta! The premise of the show is simple. Each episode follows a few brides-to-be as they choose a wedding dress.

Each bride brings a group of folks with her to help her in the process. Some bring their family, their bridesmaids, their personal fashion advisor, etc… A few even bring the groom. Gasp! (These generally don’t work out well.) In my mind those folks who are invited are there for support and encouragement. Apparently, they don’t all agree with my opinion of their role. I noticed that many of the supporter-supposed-to-bes actually had agendas of their own.

Take jealous sister-of-the-bride for example. As the bride modeled each dress for her supporting cast, jealous sister would wait until all the others had commented and then provide feedback sure to send the bride reeling into complete doubt about the very dress to which she was ready to say “YES!” “You’re not going to like how broad your shoulders look from the back!” “That dress really looks cheap.” (Trust me, there are no cheap dresses in this shop!) Jealous sister didn’t really care about choosing the dress herself, she just wanted to give the bride a hard time.

There are other team members who believe they have every right to choose the dress for the bride. Never mind what the bride wants! If monster-in-law has always envisioned her baby boy marrying a princess, the bride better get ready for a hoop skirted Cinderella gown. (She also should go on ahead and find a great marriage counselor – or apron string cutter!)

I’m not saying that the supporting cast should never share less than positive feedback with the bride. I know when I shop for clothes I like to take my sister-in-law, Suzy, because I know she cares enough about me to give me her honest opinion regarding the purchases. She knows me well, loves me, and has a good eye for what will or will not flatter my figure. I trust the source. Which brings me to my point. (You were wondering if I had one, weren’t you?)

What makes feedback either exquisite (as we discussed in a previous post) or erroneous? Is exquisite feedback only positive? and erroneous feedback negative? Is it the source of the feedback? or is it our interpretation of the feedback? Who should we trust? Can we even trust ourselves?

Our brains are designed to provide us with ongoing feedback. Unfortunately, if we’re not listening carefully we either miss the feedback completely or we misinterpret it. And quite frankly, sometimes we receive feedback that is erroneous. I learned this when I was training to run a marathon. (I can never say that without feeling the need to explain that I use the term “run” very loosely. I should say “complete” a marathon. But that’s beside the point and a whole ‘nother blog post.) So back to training for the marathon… Much of my training involved reading Jeff Galloway who taught me that my left brain would likely overreact to any bit of perceived pain or fatigue and start sending me messages (aka erroneous feedback)┬áto “stop this craziness right this minute before you fall over and die!” Jeff said that if I would politely ignore the left brain, and begin instead to listen to my right brain which is much more creative and willing to take risks, I would be fine. Guess what? He was right! It took some practice and some persistence and even some programming of my right brain, but it was a huge help in getting me through my long training runs and the marathon itself.

Our bodies enjoy sending us messages as well. Mostly we pay attention to the negative messages – indigestion, headaches, sore muscles, etc… And, again, we are likely to misinterpret the feedback, judge ourselves, and take corrective action that may or may not be in our best interest. Ever heard of “no pain, no gain?” What if your body is asking you for rest and recovery? Ever counted out 42 cheeze-its because your Weight Watchers program said you could have 4 more points and calories are calories? What if your body was asking for sweet potato and kale chips with some protein on the side and didn’t care one bit about how many points or calories it was worth?

If there is a mistake that can be made in regards to listening to my body and brain for exquisite feedback, I have likely made it. I have asked my body for feedback that is irrelevant – such as a number on a scale – instead of listening to what my body wanted to communicate to me. And I have given myself a fair amount of erroneous feedback as well. In the world of life coaching we call this negative self-talk or our inner critic. I bet you have experienced this on more than a few occassions. We all have. So what are we to do?

Lucille Ball said, “Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.” I love Lucy. (I couldn’t resist.) And I think she’s right. Loving myself – enough to listen, to choose wisely, to take care of myself and to keep learning – provides an environment in which healing occurs, trust flourishes and our hearts and spirits thrive. I then begin to see myself as trustworthy and resourceful and whole and worthy of love. I can trust my own body and brain to provide exquisite feedback to which I can respond with love and trust. And the cycle continues. Exquisite!

Peace, Love and More Love,

Jeanye