Have you ever said to yourself something like this, “No one commented on my blog. No one noticed that I changed the way I look, no one saw that I fixed a problem.”
And if no one noticed, or gave us feedback, do we keep on doing it, or give up?
Often, we give up or do it without much joy.
Our modern society has trained us to need outside approval. We have become obsessed with being noticed and known because we believe that it is a measure of our success.
I know that I am not alone in worrying if what I am writing, or drawing, or teaching is worth anything if not enough people notice, or comment, or approve.
It worries me that it worries me.
We can blame it on social media if we want. We count how many likes, tweets, friends, and views that we have and that feedback filters back into our self approval.
No wonder we pay so much attention to our phones and Facebook and stats. We have become a society of approval seekers.
But, it is not only social media that has pushed us to this epidemic of counting our worth by numbers. We have been trained that way.
At work, we are judged by how much work we can do in one day. Teachers are judged by the numbers their students achieve on tests.
What about the quality of time spent with students? This is not measurable, so it doesn’t count.
And yet, it changes students lives. Most of us have a memory of a teacher that gave us extra time and attention. Not all of us had a chance to say, “thank you.” Do you think our teachers might have felt unappreciated because we didn’t?
We need to build an internal approval system. We build it by spending more time in deep thinking and awareness. We build it by placing less value in statistics and ratings.
Nature, as in all things, teaches us the value of expressing who we are without the need for feedback. A tree is a tree; a flower is a flower. We can’t measure their success by numbers.
Will Smith said, “Don’t chase people. Be yourself, do your own thing, and work hard. The right people…the ones who really belong in your life, will come to you. And stay.”
Isn’t that a better goal than approval? Having people that stay because we are being ourselves, doing our own thing, and working hard at whatever our craft may be.
In a recent Instagram post, Reese Tittingham said, (@ressielove1121) “Just because you want approval doesn’t mean you will get it. Just because a person should be on your side doesn’t mean they will. Just because you are trying your best doesn’t mean all will see it. But that doesn’t mean you stop.”
If you have a book to write, write it. Share it. Perhaps through email lists and social media, but don’t do it for the approval. Do it because it is what you want to do.
There is another side of this issue. We need to take the time and attention away from our craving and need for approval and give it others.
Let’s notice what other people do and let them know that we noticed. Not just the big things, but all the little things too.
We can ask ourselves, “Am I the friend that stays? Am I the person that people can count on?”
It starts there. Away from our needs, and into the care of the welfare of others. We will be happier and so will they.
Don’t be invisible. Don’t let others feel invisible. Notice something good, and tell people you noticed.
Not just with social media, but personally.
Give a hug, a wink, a smile, a verbal acknowledgment, a note, a letter, a comment—not because they are demanding approval, but because they, like you, are expressing the gift of themselves.
And then do what you want to do because you want to do it because it feels right-because it is you.
That is what counts. That, and only that.
Yes the picture is Max with his Poppa (Del) from a few years ago. That is what noticing looks like!