Evidence That It Works
A study found that when participants received negative feedback on an essay they wrote—a form of self-threatening information—their blood pressure increased. But it recovered more quickly after they wrote about why their top value was important to them, compared to writing about why other people might hold a particular value.
Why Does It Matter
In their lives at school, teachers and other school staff members often encounter threats to the self–from receiving negative feedback, to difficult interactions with students, parents, colleagues, and supervisors, to being excluded in a social situations, e.g., the staff lunchroom.
In these moments, it’s difficult to stay clear-headed, open-minded, and in control. We may get defensive or reactive, depriving ourselves of constructive lessons and harming our relationships with others.
Reflecting on what matters most may help us move beyond narrow self-image concerns. It can remind us of the other resources we have in our lives: how strong and capable we are, or how much support we receive from others. We start to realize that there’s something we care about–whether it’s cultivating relationships or creativity–that matters more to us than whatever difficulty we’re experiencing in the moment.
Once we gain this broader perspective, we become more open to hearing negative feedback or potentially scary but useful information. We can take a wiser and more long-term perspective instead of getting bogged down in momentary negative feelings.