You’re a genius, fantastic, such an amazing person. That felt good to hear didn’t it?
Well, I was lying — you suck, you’re terrible, just awful. That didn’t feel so good, right?
Those feelings would probably be even more intense if someone was saying these things to you in person. There would be a guaranteed shift in your mood.
It’s a simple example of how reliant we can be on praise and how affected we can be by criticism. Even if there is no basis to either, they have the power to make or ruin a day, a week, a life.
Our method of processing praise by feeling good is an instinctive one, we don’t tend to question it. And because it feels good we seek more of it. We repeatedly seek to fulfill the expectations of those who would praise us. We seek to prove ourselves.
While that can sometimes be a good motivator for achievement, it means we’ll instinctively feel bad if we don’t fulfill certain people’s expectations. If those people don’t praise us, or worse, if they criticize us.
So how do we remove this dependence? How do we stop granting other people permission to decide our worth, our mood, at any given time?
Instead of seeking to prove ourselves, we should seek to approve ourselves.
We should decide our own worth and feel good because praise and criticism are just the opinions of others and not our concern. The alternative is making every decision based on what someone else will approve of.
But again, how? Here are some ideas:
Make self-approval your default state
- Think of self-approval as the box that keeps the seesaw balanced. No matter how much criticism is added to the other side, self-approval is heavy enough to counteract it.
Keep a list to refer to
- Let self-approval develop by listing your strengths, positive experiences and times in the past when you have been praised. You can refer back to this list when self-approval…