I read that humans need to experience positive feelings three times as often as negative feelings to maintain a positive mood. I would counter that for writers that ratio might be much higher. Exposing my written words to public scrutiny is worse than dreaming about being naked at school. One critical comment cuts so much deeper than all the glowing compliments. Last week I received some useful feedback on my manuscript. Amid all the positive notes was this one: “You use a LOT of exclamation points. So many.” And now I can never type another one because, ouch (she exclaimed without the aggressive punctuation)
Let’s be honest. There are times when negative words are warranted and even necessary to bring about change. But even then, we should use them sparingly. If the sassiest, most sarcastic among us is so wounded by words, imagine how devastating a negative remark can be for someone who hasn’t been shored up by at least three positive ones already. Our words are impactful, and we must use them to speak life into one another. I’m the biggest offender of all with this. My default is “the positive goes without saying,” and I only speak up when there’s a problem. That is the problem, and I want to be better, kinder, life-affirming, with my words. I need to remember that one negative statement has more impact than three positive ones, and that’s a power not to be used lightly.