Make Praise Your Weapon

This new illustration has a couple of different meanings for me and you may find it has others for you. But I saw someone say this in passing I think on Instagram a while ago and it’s stuck with me. So I created art for it of course. Interpretation of art though is always personal, words can be the same, but here’s my thoughts.

A couple of years ago, a mentor was coaching a small group of us in our mindsets. He was asking us what we truly reach for when we hit obstacles, times that are hard, or just hear something that upsets us (even if it is only that your favorite ice cream is no longer available at your usual store).

What we reach for? It took me a minute to understand as he explained. We all have a habit when confronted with the negative. What’s our habit? Do you reach for comfort, for complaint, for anger, or do you reach for an alternative?


He said many of us reach for comfort or complaint. He called this the blankie. We want to soothe ourselves and sometimes soothing means getting someone to commiserate with you and validate your position. Other times it means reaching for our creature comforts.

He then asked us to list out our blankies. What do we normally do in response to comfort ourselves? Me? Find a snack. Read a book I can get lost in. Clean something. Anger sometimes. Complaint for sure. Validation from dog, meaning I look at her, give her lots of pets and ask her if she loves me. (of course she does).

He then asked us to list out swords we could pick up instead. In other words he wanted us to fight the negative mindsets. He gave examples of listening to or creating uplifting music, creating art (because we were all artists), helping someone, giving a compliment to someone, and writing out at least 1-3 good things about the obstacle, moment, or (perceived) negativity.

You see, all of these things that allow us to fight negativity are weapons of praise. Praising God and thanking him for the goodness is one form and maybe the more obvious to some, but praising others is another. And I think praising others has multiple effects: you are praising God if you see others as a reflection of him; you are uplifting your mind by focusing on a positive attribute, giving space for the positive; and you are uplifting someone else – and it is here that there are even more reverberations because that creates a ripple that affects others.

Praising someone else, especially someone involved in the obstacle or situation, begins to turn that space into a more positive one. It can take the other person by surprise, allowing their defenses to fall, creating a more open space for positive outcomes.

I got into a slight accident one day as I was backing out of a space and another woman came around the corner fast enough that I never saw her when trying to look all the ways (this was pre-backup cameras and warning sounds/lights – thank goodness for those though). When I got out of the car I was concerned and thinking how the other driver was, along with her car. 

As I got out and approached her, I began asking her if she was ok. But as she came towards me, she was yelling and obviously furious. When she took a breath, I asked again if she was ok in what I remember was a concerned voice. She stalled as she was about to yell again, then she melted and as the tears started coming she said she was ok. This moment hung for a minute as we both collected what was happening. As we settled, things ended up much better. We actually hugged, saw there was no damage to either car, hugged again, checked that we were both ok, then went on our way.

I was still a little shaken after as I drove off and I’m sure she was too. But as I collected myself fully I began reflecting on what just happened. It was a moment I wanted to store away because it was a testament to using peace and possibility rather than anger and frustration in the moment and how that difference affects others, not just ourselves.

In the same way, when we use praise as our weapon in any moment, the difference will always affect ourselves, but often will affect others.

Even more so, when we find ourselves in conflict with another person, bringing out weapons of praise will get you much further than any other weapon or blankie.

If you think about all the times someone has offered you praise, how long did it last. I’m sure it was longer than that moment. I’m sure you carried it with you. An offer of praise to someone lasts a long time.

Praise is gratitude, and finding gratitude even in the difficult things is a form of wholeness. 

Recently, I read Night by Elie Wiesel and in it he describes a situation in the concentration camp where they were made to stand out in the freezing cold. The soldiers were taking their boots, but because where they were standing was so muddy, they couldn’t see Elie’s boots. They never removed his. He explained he learned the lesson of gratitude in hard times in that moment for he never thought he’d be grateful for mud.

We all have obstacles and hard situations but finding the praise within gives us a weapon in our hands to get through those obstacles and situations, not necessarily out of them but through them. We build up strength as we do this. Reaching for blankies does not give us strength to get through. It’s a hard habit to change but important in how we face obstacles.