As you know, positive feedback is good. It feels good, it seems to lift you up and it's a whole lot easier to digest than negative feedback.
Negative feedback is bad. It hurts, it's not easy to receive, it spins us out of control and overall seems to be the brick nobody likes to eat.
But why is this? You will hear me say a lot of times that I like to get leverage on myself. This is an Anthony Robbins concept, and a good one. But what I've found is that leverage can come in a variety of shapes and sizes.
For example, leverage can be a stimulation that empowers or inspires you to act in defiance of a bad habit. Or it can be the same stimulant pushing you towards something good for you.
Leverage can be facts and figures that consciously convince you not to do something, such as the percentage of patients with lung cancer who arrived there on a road traveled with Marlboro.
It can also come from first-hand knowledge, such as when you were a kid and put your hand in the escalator belt, which in turn sucked it up and immediately halted the escalator because of the safety mechanism built into the escalator so when this happens, you don't tell the same story about your elbow or worse.
After that experience you had the first hand knowledge of what would happen and suddenly the amount of leverage in your four year old brain was so overwhelming that you never again even considered such a feat.
This was the plight of my own son at four. We still laugh about it today because the look on his face when he got caught with his hand in that cookie jar/ escalator, was priceless. He didn't know whether to cry, crap, run or melt, and all he could really do was wait... for Dad's reaction. Even then we laughed. He wasn't hurt but in that moment I knew for sure, he was getting some learnin'.
Another aspect of how I approach things is to take them apart and figure out what makes them tick. And for whatever reason, I have learned to do that with the human experience.
So let's consider the inner workings of positive feedback for a moment and see what we can do to foster more of it in our lives.
To begin with, I want to quote a few lines from the website lumenlearning.com. Their article was encouraging negative feedback over positive feedback, but not from a psychological standpoint, rather a physiological one. Meaning, they are talking about physical systems while we are engaged in mental ones.
And in physical systems negative feedback evidently is a valuable limiter where positive feedback can become a runaway train. The physical body has natural limitations that need to be balanced, but it made me realize just how counter-intuitive our mental state is to our body, and where some of our struggles may come from, due to this.
Physically, we are "programmed" to thrive on negative feedback in order to maintain homeostasis (the critical condition of stability.) But mentally, we have no limitations. Our minds are modeled after an infinite Creator and they have access to infinite wisdom. Negative limitations are poisonous to the mind, attitude, psychology, and attitude of a person.
So with an awareness of that inversion going on inside of us, you can see how negative feedback is a logical response for most people. Because their bodies spend most of the time searching for limiters to maintain balance, the fight or flight mechanisms of modern psychology, this is what they transmute through their responses to behavior. Not realizing the mind and the body are inversely proportional to one another with the spirit being the glue that holds them both together... but that's another blog post all together.
We have to train ourselves to provide positive feedback and we have to train ourselves to receive it as well. It goes against the material muscle memory we all possess, but the intangible perceptions that we operate from are screaming for it.
Our intangible psyche can be seen as the software that runs the hardware. Software is exact, finicky, purposeful, delicate, even so much that it develops its own personality. Hardware is more cold, interchangeable, durable and dense. We have entirely different disciplines to manage the development, production, and profitability of each of them while the two ultimately have to work together for either one to be of value.
Psyche and Physiology share a similar relationship. In fact, it's reasonable to state that the computer is patterned off of us humans so it makes sense these similarities exist.
"In a positive feedback mechanism, the output of the system stimulates the system in such a way as to further increase the output. Common terms that could describe positive feedback loops or cycles include “snowballing” and “chain reaction." This is a quote from the aforementioned website.
Another one is "...a change in an input causes responses that produce continued changes in the same direction."
Imagine the leverage you'd have if you could pinpoint a goal and then identify the positive feedback your mind needs in order to stimulate it all the way to fruition, in a runaway manner!
This by the way is highly obtainable. It's a simple strategy that is missing from most positive reinforcement approaches. Chanting positive reinforcements in a mirror each morning can have an effect for sure, but analyzing performance in relationship with a specific goal and then verbalizing the positive attributes of your progress towards that goal, can revolutionize everything you do.
Positive reinforcement leaves no room for negative responses. It consumes all the oxygen within your reticular activating system and focuses your energy on a solution, rather than on the problem.
Most problems are fleeting anyhow. To focus on them is to try and ride each wave in the ocean as you are attempting to cross it.
Consider this. Each negative idea is a whole new foundation to a fresh problem. Problems are negative and when you focus on the negative, you are defining a problem, which in turn needs a whole slew of positive assertions to fix. There's a time and place for negative feedback, and that is when you are trying to identify and flush out a problem so you know how to defeat it. But if you use negative feedback in the process of overcoming, then you are doing nothing more than creating new problems.
So the case for positive feedback is pretty straightforward. But there's more.
Why does positive feedback propel us towards success in a more productive manner than negative feedback? Essentially, it's because "Feedback is a situation when the output or response of a loop impacts or influences the input or stimulus."
That statement is about feedback in general, the affecting of the output impacted by the input or stimulus. It's like a turbo, or an accelerator in a chemical situation. It's the bonding component that when mixed with knowledge, instruction, design, etc, activates those inputs and strengthens them to their fullest potential. Like Rose Hips to Vitamin C and Vitamin C to any other vitamin you take, positive reinforcement of any input helps it release more goodness, have greater resilience and exponentially stretch out into the world of the mind.
And with this much hopeful value permeating the mind in progress towards a singular goal, there is nothing but success mapped out for it.
So whatever you are attempting, whomever it is that guides you down that path, and whoever you put around you should all buy into this awareness that positive dialogue is always welcome. And if they are not aware of their behavior, maybe you should inform them of it by sharing this blog post with them. ;0)
Allow me to leave you with one last thought. Ever heard the quote "Accentuate the Positive?" This is an argued point of view between whether it's a good thing or not. I will give you my take in alignment with the subject at hand.
Strengths Finder 2.0 is a book that compels you to accentuate your strengths, an argument I've tried to live out and can personally say has merit. When you accentuate your strengths, you more readily discover your natural gifts which lead you to your destiny because whatever you're called to do, you've been endowed with the resources and talents to accomplish those goals.
StrengthsFinder 2.0 offers an assessment test that sheds light on your strengths. If you visit my own CV website at jamescraddock.me you can see a completed assessment. As well you can view a number of my assessments that all ring with the same results, a byproduct of clarity and self awareness by accentuating the positive.
And where in the framework of accentuating your strengths can you find space for negative feedback and critical attacks? You can't, because the exercising of your strengths is a naturally occurring opposition to negative feedback, demonstrating how negative feedback can be so destructive.
And so, positivity isn't a function or process that you initiate only when you are learning or trying to achieve something, but rather it's a lifestyle and mindset, a whole body-mind reset that frames how you show up in life. And it can revolutionize every relationship around you.