Hello, reader! How’s your week going so far?
When I was a child, it took me quite a while to work out that the phrase “seal of approval” referred to a stamp-type thing on a piece of paper, not an actual seal who followed you around and nodded approvingly when you did something right. (Trips to the zoo became slightly less fun after this revelation, if I’m totally honest.)
In modern life, seals of approval come in many forms: likes on Facebook statuses and photos, retweets, promotions at work and the knowledge that awesome people like being your friends. This is all very well and good, but how much time do we commit to gaining the approval of the only people who matter: ourselves?
I freely admit that I rely too much on the good opinion of other people. Hence the writing, I guess. I have built my entire professional life around entertaining other people, and it’s not that different in my personal life: I am one of those people who automatically assumes that an unanswered text means that the recipient despises me, for example. I’m exaggerating, but modern life does encourage us to believe that silence is passive aggressive and that a friendship isn’t real until you’re connected on Facebook. Not the healthiest way to approach social interaction, is it?
How do we fix this? Can we go about our lives in a way that balances a strong sense of self-worth with knowing the value of other people’s respect? Is there an attitude that will allow us to like ourselves enough not to worry too much about our reputations, but at the same time make sure that our reputations stay intact? Can we be the best versions of ourselves without needing to hear about it from the people around us?
Some people are already able to do this, of course. Lucky you, if you’re one of those types. But for the rest of us, whatever aspect of our lives/upbringings/personalities has led us to this point, we need to focus on gaining our own respect before we work for anyone else’s. You know the irritating but true phrase “no one will love you until you learn to love yourself”? Well, it’s the same with respect (and slightly less cloying to think about): what use is anyone else’s if you haven’t got your own?
Pursuit of what we know (or hope) will make us better people is the key to finding self-respect. Think about the people you admire in life: the achievers, the constants, the optimists. All of those people have worked hard to achieve those great feats and obtain those virtues. They identified what they wanted to be or do, and then pursued it for their own sense of self worth. If they can do it, you can, too.
It’s like playing Pokemon on a GameBoy (showing my age here): when you’re working towards a gym badge in those games, you don’t give a crap what Team Rocket are up to. In reality, when you’re working towards becoming a better version of yourself, you forget about what other people think of you. You know deep down that your opinion is the only one which matters.
Having said that, I think all of our self-improvement programmes would develop much more rapidly if seals actually followed us around and applauded our good deeds. I’ll have to look into that.
Have a stupendous Tuesday.