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Like Water Off a Duck’s Back: Negativity Can’t Stick to You

I gotta say, there are a lot of ducks on my blog. You can read my other duck-themed posts here and here.

This probably means I need to get out more (hint hint, Chris! Take me to Disneyland!)

There’s even a duck over my left shoulder on my profile picture. It’s like Where’s Waldo? but with ducks.

Well, let’s just go with it. I’m sure there are a few ducks who read my blog…“kind advice for ducky life.”

Moving on—

So, I was walking Skyla around the pond the other day, and we came to the entrance to my apartment complex’s outdoor pool.

A maintenance man was doing something really strange. He turned on a hose and was spraying water in an arch so it would rain down into the pool.

When I got closer, I could see what he was really doing. A mallard duck was lazily swimming in the pool. He must not have seen the sign that says the pool is for residents only.

Every time the duck swam away, the maintenance man would follow and try to drench the duck with the hose water. The poor ducky was getting pelted from above!

I thought that was a funny way to shoo the duck out of the pool.

Only it wasn’t working…at all.

Skyla and I watched the guy chase the duck with his hose, but the duck seemed completely unfazed by the downpour. He continued to wiggle his tail feathers and cruise around the deep end.

The maintenance man looked like he wanted to scream at the duck, “Hey, duck! The pond is 10 feet that way. Get the hell outta the pool!”

Look, if I were that duck, I’d totally choose the swimming pool over the pond. The pool is clean, there are bits of sandwiches and chips under the lounge chairs, and dogs aren’t allowed inside the gate.

Plus, there are no damn geese who like to bully the ducks in the pond.

Finally, the man turned off the hose and stared at the duck.

The duck stared back defiantly.

Then the man gathered up his hose and toolbox and walked out of the pool area.

I was SO proud of that duck! Hell yeah, ducky! Stick it to the man!

Maybe that guy had never heard the phrase “like water off a duck’s back.” See, a duck’s feathers are specially coated so water doesn’t soak in and weigh them down. This waterproofing makes them excellent swimmers.

When a person doesn’t let criticism, negativity, or other obstacles get in the way of her dreams, it’s said that the problems slide away “like water off a duck’s back.”

How do you react when faced with an unexpected pushback?

What would you do in these situations?

  • Your mom says you’ll never lose weight because everyone in the family is big, so you should just give up already.
  • Your friend meets you for lunch but spends the whole time critiquing your love life (or lack of one).
  • You don’t get that promotion you were hoping for because your boss says “You’re not quite what we’re looking for.”

Sooner or later, you’re going to get rained on by Debbie Downers and Negative Nellies. I challenge you to act like a duck and visualize their judgments rolling off your back.

Then shake your tail, kick your webbed feet, and swim yourself to a better location far away from those dream killers.

Like water off a duck’s back, you won’t let obstacles slow you down!

Oh—let me translate for my duck readers: quack quack quack quack quack.

Ready to break free from negativity? Check out these articles:

Never Allow People Who Suck to Suck the Joy out of Your Day

5 Great Ways to Conquer Self Doubt

Do You Have Cheerleaders or Dream Stealers Around You?

Full esteem ahead – tips for boosting your self-esteem

Quick Tip: Practice Responding to Self-Doubt

How do you handle unexpected obstacles and criticism?

14 Comments

  1. Michaelverderosa on June 17, 2012 at 12:35 pm

    Just bought flat of sage. I live in condo negativity surrounds me. Any tips



  2. Cara on May 11, 2012 at 10:18 am

    I wish I had read this post yesterday when you put it up, as I was surrounded by Negative Nellies all day. I always try to take a deep breath and kill ’em with kindness. I’m still working on developing the thicker skin I need to have to face my day job. Really great story, it reminded me of Make Way For Ducklings!



    • Sage on May 11, 2012 at 11:47 am

      I do the “kill ’em with kindness” thing too, but it’s wearing me down. Must breathe and meditate more!

      I just looked up “Make Way For Ducklings” on Amazon–too cute. Why haven’t I seen this before? I’m sure my blog is slowly morphing into one that will be solely devoted to ducks.



  3. Tinfoil Tiaras on May 10, 2012 at 6:48 pm

    There’s been a lot of negative nellies (I always thought it was nancies lol) at my job lately so I’ve been going through a lot of wine- probably not the best coping mechanism! I need to be more like the maintenance man defying ducks! (amazing story by the way!)



    • Sage on May 11, 2012 at 11:41 am

      I think you may be right about the Negative Nancies. 🙂 Whatever we call them, we can’t let their negativity affect us.

      Haha, wine may not be the best coping mechanism, but we all need something to take the edge off. My trainer says I should go for a run when I’m stressed out from dealing with those types of people. Sometimes cleaning the house helps too.

      The ducks in my neighborhood are kinda badass. They strut around like they own the place.



  4. Molly on May 10, 2012 at 5:48 pm

    Such a great comparison! I grew up having negative things said to me about myself, so for survival reasons, I learned to not let it get to me. Every once in a while, something still does upset me, though, but I’ve gotten much better at not letting it eat away at me. I vent for a while to Mike or someone else, then let it go.

    Like Sarah said, this is such an important message. Your posts are so empowering!



  5. Molly on May 10, 2012 at 5:48 pm

    Such a great comparison! I grew up having negative things said to me about myself, so for survival reasons, I learned to not let it get to me. Every once in a while, something still does upset me, though, but I’ve gotten much better at not letting it eat away at me. I vent for a while to Mike or someone else, then let it go.

    Like Sarah said, this is such an important message. Your posts are so empowering!



    • Sage on May 11, 2012 at 11:36 am

      Venting helps me too, but then I have to pull myself together and get on with my life. I’ve learned not to dwell on negative comments for too long.

      Thank you so much for saying my posts are empowering! That makes me feel fantastic. 🙂 We SHOULD feel empowered. We all have the power inside us to change our lives.



  6. xvavaveganx on May 10, 2012 at 5:34 pm

    YES!! You are so incredibly right Sage. I am incredibly sensitive and often let other people’s comments really affect me. To the point where I’ll walk out of a room and start crying. I get spoken to like I’m stupid and am made to feel ugly and stupid and it takes a toll on me. It’s a problem to a point where my mom sent me an email that had a story and the moral of the story is that when people are rude to you, just smile, be kind and let their comments roll off your back. And this was just a few days ago.

    I’m glad that you posted about this, it is an incredibly important message. I’m working on it every day. It is incredibly difficult but I’ve come to realize that I need to work on myself and becoming the best that I can be, and if anyone has anything to say that is their problem. One day I’ll get there 🙂



    • Sage on May 11, 2012 at 11:33 am

      I’m glad you liked this post. I feel bad that people have hurt you so much that you started crying–it’s happened to me too! I remember I once had to leave work for the rest of the day because an old boss told me that my opinions didn’t matter. I cried a lot over that comment. 🙁

      I’m trying to get better about not letting people’s judgements get to me. This is harder for me when it comes to my work life than my personal life. We’re all works in progress.



  7. Megan Gann on May 10, 2012 at 11:54 am

    I strongly believe in self-talk. I have a very strong internal voice (sometimes to the point of rebellion, alas), but allowing your internal voice to be stronger than the voices of others can help keep your positivity and motivation in tact.



    • Sage on May 10, 2012 at 1:01 pm

      You’re so right, our inner voice should be the only one that matters.



  8. Shybiker on May 10, 2012 at 7:13 am

    Quack Quack Quack (Translation: Great post!)

    True words. To survive among the rude, we need to develop the ability to slough off insults and your duck-metaphor is perfect.

    I am hyper-sensitive, always have beeen, and had to learn how to do this. Recently, someone criticized me on my blog for having “Man Feet.” The insult meant nothing to me.

    I like your blog because it feels like a conversation. A discussion of serious subjects with a smart, kind person.



    • Sage on May 10, 2012 at 7:50 am

      I’m sensitive too. I want everyone to like me, but that’s not always possible. I’ve found that people who insult me are insecure about something in their own lives. That’s pretty rude of someone to insult you on your blog. You’re putting yourself out there and being truthful and brave. No many people can do that.

      Thanks for saying my blog is like a conversation. That’s what I’m going for. It may be an advice blog, but I’m really waiting for my readers to give me their advice so I can use it (shh! don’t tell!).