Commend vs. Condemn

by on August 10, 2016

Young female biting her nails.It is amazing what the re-arrangement of the same set of letters within a word can do in terms of the meanings, feelings and emotions it conveys. Take for example the words commend and condemn. Both words contain at least one occurrence, (if not more) of the letters, c, d, e, m, n and o. Both when used often bring emotion to a situation. However, the energy of that emotion is directly opposite depending on which one is used and the circumstances involved.

When one coaches, they are continually surrounded by individuals working through their emotions. In many instances, (especially when one is starting a coaching engagement, or one has recently experienced a loss of some type in their life), there is usually a good deal of negative energy involved. Sometimes it is directed at another individual, an institution, the world in general, or one’s fate in life. It has the one being coached left with feelings of condemnation. As long as those feelings stay with the individual, they have a difficult time moving their life forward. Even if they may believe others are responsible for their problems, as time goes by, the “finger of condemnation” is ultimately pointed back at oneself. That makes the ability to make progress that much more difficult.

It is an amazing thing that I have observed on the other hand about “commendation.” Many find it easy to commend others for their actions. They’ll stress how without the help of another they could not have succeeded. Often we’re taught from our youngest days to be modest about we ourselves do or accomplish. As time goes on, we often take for granted the positive steps and contributions we make. That can actually work against us when we ourselves are going through a troubling time, (a job search, a loss of a loved one, caring for a family member, our own illness, etc.). However, that is just the time when we most may need that energy to be commending ourselves.

Certainly, I’m not advocating that one should be delusional and lie to themselves about what they have done or accomplished. However, all too often we look to make it to our “ultimate goal” before we give ourselves any credit. We will say to ourselves such things as “I won’t have fun until I find a job,” or “I won’t consider that I have accomplished anything until this course is over and I receive my final grade.” Worthwhile processes and ventures take time. They can take months, even years to reach fully where we want to be. If we’re coming at ourselves constantly from a viewpoint of what we have not accomplished, what is still left to be done, of “condemning” our progress to date, we are just making the journey that much more difficult for ourselves.

Just like the formation of the letters in the words commend and condemn can quickly convey one message versus another, acknowledgement of the progress and achievements we make along the way in our long term goals makes so much of a difference. Those positive affirmations keep us pointed forward, convey to others that we’re someone who is going to make it, perhaps it even conveys that we’re someone who should be given an opportunity with a particular project or task that continues us moving forward even further.

So the next time you feel yourself falling into condemnation, of another or yourself, step back, take a breath and determine what small steps might be able to be done to change this situation or look at it differently. Is there a way to deliver a message of commendation, instead of condemnation? Can something that is not going the way one wants be repaired and put on the right track? Remember the difference between commending and moving things forward as opposed to condemning and holding back or even regressing, can be as simple as “rearranging a few letters.”

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