You’re Awesome Versus You Suck

By: Peggy Willms


(4 min read)

How many positive actions or comments does it take to negate a negative one? You might have heard of a 3:1 ratio or even a 5:1. In my experience of raising children for 36 years, coaching thousands of clients, and working in Corporate America for a quarter of a century, I align more with 10:1 or even as high as 20:1.

Let’s compare. Go back to being a teenager and having a conversation with a parent.


*You need to lose some weight.

Your hair looks terrific today

Those earrings are pretty.

You will kill that test today because you’re so smart.

Did the latter three statements help you recover from the first “negative” comment, or might it take a few more positive or complimentary remarks to downplay the negative words you just heard? Which statements might spin around in your head for the next few months or years? Is it the comment about you being “overweight” or that you are smart? I think I know the answer.

Here’s 10:1

*You need to lose some weight.

Your hair looks terrific today

Those earrings are pretty.

You will kill that test today because you’re so smart.

You are so organized.

You have such great friends.

Let’s watch a movie together tonight.

I love spending time with you.

Thank you for cleaning your room.

It looks great.

I love you so much.

You have now received 10 “positive” statements versus three. Did you recover quickly from the initial “negative” comment? You may have in the short term, but I suspect the attempt to negate line one will not last long. After years of coaching, trust me, the first comment will last a lifetime. And even 20 positives may never brush away the negative.

I am not suggesting you dance around the tough conversations. And guiding someone to become healthier is important. But being thoughtful and respectful changes the game dramatically.

Rewiring negative thoughts and behaviors can take years. The hurtful words or actions are also more deeply embedded when delivered by someone we love or respect.

The negativity train chugs along effortlessly, looping on repeat in our minds. This is one reason the  I Am affirmations are often a go-to assignment from a coach or therapist. I am beautiful. I am smart. I am loyal…

Studies show that positive guidance and behavior improve health and wellness and higher quality of life. A higher percentage of happy and successful people come from being exposed to a supportive environment and positive affirmation history. Positivity breeds confidence and self-love. The best part is it is FREE. No gift in the world can replace positive comments or a hug. 

We react very quickly to negative comments or actions. If someone yells at you or calls you a name, you react immediately, and it is rarely positive. Many times you try to get right back at them, or you are defensive. There isn’t always time to internally process how you deliver a comment, but practicing is a game-changer. Ask yourself how I would feel if I were the recipient of the words that are about to come out of my mouth or the actions I am about to take? Think about a few scenarios when you thought you delivered a positive comment. Were they? Would you like to hear them? Slight shifts in words and taking a deep breath before making a fool out of yourself can prevent someone else from carrying around what you said or did for decades. In some cases, your words and behaviors can save a life, especially if you are a parent or mentor. You are molding the future.

Try this method…I call it the Oreo cookie method. You have three sections of the cookie. I work diligently to ensure my conversations or the points I am trying to make go like this:

1) Right out of the gate, say something positive, light, or even funny.

2) Deliver “the meat” (center), those words or conversations that might be a bit heavy or “teachy preachy.”

3) Then, it is time to put that cookie back together. Close with something light or a positive affirmation.

People will typically remember the negative things you said or did. If your co-worker, partner, or child never saw you again, what conversation or action do you want them to remember you by? A statement they needed to lose weight or how proud you are of them?

 We are surrounded by negativity. It takes dedicated and consistent energy to negate it or avoid it altogether. Take the news for example. What is the ratio of positive to negative when you watch it? Have you ever counted? It is appalling and definitely not the OREO cookie method. They come in hot and heavy with horrific weather, crime, and examples of our jacked-up economy. And when there isn’t enough to report in our own country, they dive into the rest of the world to share theirs.

Try this for just today or next week. Listen to others’ comments and watch their actions, whether directed at you or others. Did you walk away with a light, fluffy, stand-up tall experience? Or did you feel a gut ache and dark-cloud hovering? Feelings and thoughts drive you every single day, which ones would you rather have spinning in your head at 3 AM or in 10 years? 


Peggy Willms
                                                                     All Things Wellness, LLC

The information provided is the opinion of the author. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice: diagnosis or treatment. The author, the business, All Things Wellness, LLC, and its owner Peggy Willms, are not liable for risks or issues associated with using or acting upon the information in this article or website. We assume no responsibility for tangible and intangible damages such as physical harm caused by using a product, loss of profits or loss of data, and defamatory comments. This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I may earn from qualifying purchases.