I got a message from someone saying that my blog posts turned her off.
The reasons, as I gathered from what I read, were that I talked down about myself and wrote stories that made me seem neither successful nor intelligent.
After a fleeting rise in emotions that felt hot behind my ears, I wrote back:
OK noted. Thanks.
And that reply was all the attention I’d intended to give to the message: there was nothing in it that rang true to me or seemed to warrant more of a response. But going about my evening, I started feeling bothered about the matter, much to my irritation.
Gazing pensively at my laptop, I thought, It isn’t worth getting mad about, Mary. And in rapid succession, I had another thought: Wait, I can use this to write a post about success.
The point I planned to make was that success means what we decide it does for ourselves—I didn’t give a damn if “someone” considered me successful so long as I was approaching my brand of success (more peace of mind more of the time), which I am.
Wrapping up my night with a hot shower, I was already composing my success post as I scrubbed; by 10 am the next morning, though, my plan had changed.
What happened is that I got another message from “someone.” Almost expecting another jab, I instead read something of an apology—“someone” saw how I could have taken her first message the wrong way. What she meant was that she wished I’d write stories that played up my successes and intelligence.
Although I appreciated the clarification, I considered replying to this second message the same way as the first—OK noted. Thanks. Then, I changed my mind. It’s not as if my blog inspires tons of feedback, good or bad, so why not take a minute to reply with more than three words?
I explained that my work is about helping people live better-feeling lives, and that…
A better-feeling life consists of better-feeling moments.
But it’s in everyday moments that we most derail our lives.
For instance, I told “someone,” I could have wasted time stewing over her seeming diss. Instead, I didn’t dwell on it. (That time, that is; in the past, I’ve squandered what may have amounted to years feeling bothered about stuff that wasn’t worth it, and being unproductive as a result. Or worse, creating more upheaval that took me farther off track.)
I write the kinds of stories I do, I explained, 1) to show people that they’re not the only ones who get tripped up by small stuff, and 2) to illustrate how I re-frame situations in a better-feeling way (because that’s what it takes to live better-feeling moments that make a better-feeling life).
Furthermore, I said, we do others a disservice by hiding our less “successful” experiences—especially if we profess that our work is to help people live better—because it sends the message that anyone who hits inevitable roadblocks is doing something “wrong.”
“Someone” got it, and even said she’d discuss my thinking with some folks at work.
That was nice to hear, but really, it wouldn’t have mattered whether she got it or not—I’m satisfied with the work I’m doing, and getting dissed is part of making it public, just as you might get dissed for sharing your work, ideas, opinions etc.
Committing to a better-feeling life necessarily means deciding to take offense verrry slooowly and to recover very quickly when we do.
So diss my blog if you must, I don’t intend to spend much time thinking about it 😊
P.S. Contrary to what I said, I guess it did matter that “someone” got what I wrote to her because I later decided to write essentially the same thing on the “About Site” page of this site.