Don’t let the bad stuff knock you down!

women-boxingMary dear, so lovely of you to have me over for a spot of tiffin.

It’s a delight Agatha – do come in, Martha has excelled herself today, it quite takes me back to when we were in India.

Well dear, we certainly have the weather for it.

Absolutely!  I’ve been quite in a flush all week.

At least the morning room is cooler, but I do miss my darling little punkawallah, Rajiv.  He was so discreet too.

Yes dear, but he was deaf!  And anyway, Agatha you know I never did take to that whole servant business, much too colonial imperialism for me.  I just got the Count to hose me down occasionally.

Yes, I remember you used to dry off nicely in the sun afterwards, went a bit crispy a few times though, didn’t you dear!   Anyway, Mary dear, you seem to be in a bit of a fluster, it can’t just be the heat.  So what exactly is it that you are finding so irksome?

Well, I was talking to that lovely Mrs Margaret Mounthill the other day and she got me thinking about why the bad stuff is always easier to believe?

Oh darling Margaret, I’ve not seen her since that dreadful attack of gout she had, if she’s back in society again I’ll give her a call.

Agatha, you’re missing the point.

Sorry dear, yes the bad stuff is always easier to believe.  Why do you think that is Mary?

I’m not really sure dear.  But I was thinking back to younger days and I suppose some of it is linked to one’s confidence levels but I think it is really what psychologists call ‘negative bias’.

Blog on negative bias:

Mary dear, do you think it could be that the negative stuff is hurtful and that we suffer because of it and therefore remember it more because of that injury?

You could be right Agatha, more dahl dear?

Ooh yes please dear, this is quite delicious.  Do tell Martha how wonderful it is.

Of course dear.  But I believe you may have a vague notion about all this negative bias.  I certainly remember when that nasty Albert Cummings told you you’d never work as a model due to your rather large thighs.

Goodness me, Albert Cummings!  Yes, quite a nasty little boy!   I believe he came to a sticky end down a sleazy alleyway.  I do remember it really having a negative impact on me.  All my other chums’ positive comments about my long blonde hair, tiny waist and passionate piano playing just got forgotten, buried underneath one nasty comment. Do you think that women are more prone to this negative bias that men dear?

Well that is a very interesting question Agatha dear.  But I do think it is a human frailty.

Indeed dear, but do you think it’s something to do with how we filter information?  Because, as you say, we can be told heaps of good stuff about ourselves, and the one little criticism is the thing we focus in on and remember.  


Article on negative bias:

Yes, and that reminds me of a time when I’d worked really hard on a school project and I showed Pops who loved it, told me how clever I was, and then he pointed out a small bit of paint that was smudged, so I just dismissed the whole thing as a pathetic attempt.  I cried for weeks and didn’t enter it into the science show as I thought it was no good.  Do you remember?

I do indeed dear, it was only when I came round, found it stuffed under your bed with some rather suspect looking jodhpurs, and convinced you that it was super, that you decided to bring it into school after all.

Oh Agatha dear, you are a marvel sometimes!

What’s that dear?  It was young Johnny who used to read the comics, not me.

Ah, Johnny, dear Johnny.  How is your brother?  Is he still on the stage?

Just rehearsing for Widow Twanky – such a comedown from the Old Vic.  Actually that reminds me of something the lovely Meera Syal said about bad reviews  “you will remember those sentences verbatim for the rest of your career. Strange how you never memorise the good ones.”

And actors have to endure very public criticism, don’t they dear.   I suppose it must make you thick skinned.

Indeed Mary, although apparently that delicious actor Peter Egan – remember him from Downton Abbey? – anyway he hasn’t read a single review since 1990!

I suppose avoiding criticism completely would be hard in daily life though.

Well, it would be difficult.  But I am told that we can cope with negative comments much better if they are balanced out by small but frequent compliments.  

So, we need to tell our friends and loved ones about their wonderfulness regularly.  Is it that simple Agatha?

It’s worth a try dear.  Could I have another Naan bread dear?  They really are quite delicious.

Of course Agatha, but it’s not going to help your thighs now is it!

Hardly dear, I’ve learned to love them over the years though!  Maybe in our dotage we simply don’t care what people think any more?

Well, there has got to be something positive to counteract the gammy knees and forgetfulness dear one.

Oh, we don’t do too badly, Mary dear.  Don’t forget we are going to that Sonic Blessing workshop on Sunday – remember the leggings and yoga mat.

Oh yes, I had forgotten Agatha.  Perhaps some eastern therapy will do us both a bit of good.  

Yes, and I will remember to wear a long t-shirt this time, and take my place at the back of the room.  

Bottoms up dear!

Oh.  Yes, quite – chin chin.  I thought for a moment you were referring to that rather unflattering yoga pose I got stuck in last time!  Could you freshen my cup dear?

Nothing like a lovely hot tea to cool you down.

Naan bread recipe:


My Random Musings
My Random Musings

2 thoughts on “Don’t let the bad stuff knock you down!

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