And if I asked you to name all the things that you love, how long would it take for you to name yourself?
To be extremely honest, there are a lot of moments where I fail to practice what I preach. I write a lot about embracing changes and being positive, albeit there are moments I can barely hold it together. I think it is an innate tendency, to do so. One moment we talk about how independent we are, but on the other, we rely on other people to make decisions. Decisions including the judgement of our worth.
Let us admit, there are times in our life when we lie awake thinking about our existence, our purpose. Many of us feel the emptiness probe us, poke us in the pit of our guts. However, when we are confronted by the daunting emptiness, we seek assurance on the basis of the validation by others. Our heart seeks validation to feel beautiful, we search for appreciation to be confident about our skills. Our mind needs an applaud to feel worthy.
We reminisce each and every instance we received a compliment. We count the number of times we have been complimented. Even the number of people who need us in their lives. The number puts us to ease, it calms this storm of self doubt. It feeds the emptiness, hoping to eradicate the vacuum. In case, we realize that there do exist people who love us and can validate our existence, we resort to complacency.
Ironically, we forget to look within, we desperately search for substantiation everywhere else. Its not only our distorted thinking at play here, but also the way we are raised. We accept and integrate habits only if they are socially acceptable. We are made to believe that only approval validates actions. As a child, each and every aspect of our behavior is scrutinized. The “good” habits are rewarded, while we are condemned for the “bad” ones. This clear segregation of actions and consequences stay with us, through out our life. Furthermore, if we feel accepted, we shape our behavior and personality accordingly.
Now, I don’t believe that societal validation is completely unnecessary. If we were not driven by this need for approval, we would end up being reckless, harming others in the process. Unfortunately though, it does not take a lot of time for this inborn inclination to elevate into a full blown toxic obsession. Gradually, that harmless need for appreciation grows into a dungeon seeking constant approval. Consequences? Another vulnerable victim for insecurity to feed on.
So how do we escape?
I believe balance is the key. We need to learn how to strike a balance. Hence, we need to know who we are; know things we like and dislike, familiarize ourselves with our values and beliefs on an individual level. It does not mean totally rebelling against or complying by the societal norms. Ultimately it is about being introspective enough to recognize our strength, and to have the determination to draw our own path, even if the whole society is telling you otherwise. The need for appreciation might not fade away, but the anxiety will.
I can’t seemingly conclude, but all I can say is self sufficiency is important. Because, in a night filled with insecurities and fear, it is us who cradles our hearts and minds to sleep.
‘Need for Appreciation’ has been edited by Abha Mehra.