Someone who has an unhealthy dependency on an external input is an addict.
If you agree, then you agree that some people have an unhealthy addiction to the feeling they get when someone hits ‘like’ on their social media post, or compliments them. Like a fiend, they itch for the rush of dopamine that accompanies each ‘like’, ’thumb up’, or acknowledgement. They uncontrollably double back hitting refresh on the browser to see how quickly the number of thumbs or hearts increase, and they might do any number of other actions that they expect to result in compliments. In fact, they may not even need the expressed approval of others. A thumb down or a negative comment will due too in some cases, because at least someone noticed them. In this ‘attention era’, negative attention is better than none to some people. Though negative attention can result in financial reward, it can also lead to addiction.
Depend on Yourself
As soon as some of us leave our own timelines to comment on someone else’s, we come back for another dopamine hit and, true to addict form, it’s never enough. How can any of us find contentment within ourselves if we’re only looking outwardly for validation? We can’t. And trying to do so will find you in emotional quicksand.
Here’s food for thought. Like the meals we eat, our sources of dopamine should be healthy and balanced. They should come from internal and external sources because, outsourcing all of it to external validations can lead to a lack of accountability to ourselves and the inability to maintain a feeling of fulfillment. Controlled by others, we are helpless to find happiness for ourselves.
We all need to accept that…
Make Yourself Happy
You won’t be someone’s favorite person. Your spouse won’t always be able to make you feel happy. Your friends won’t always be able to hang out with you. You won’t always get the promotion or win the award. You won’t sell something to every customer or prospective client.
I’ve felt inadequate at times that I couldn’t accept the statements above. If you depend on everyone you love to be happy with you all the time, expect to have a short life that feels too long.
Those we trust taught us to seek external validation. As infants, we count on parents for food and shelter, but also for anything else we want beyond our needs. We grow into toddlers whose caretakers fill in for parents. Teachers assume the role when we reach school age. As we age we grow, we continue the unreasonable pursuit of external validation instead finding the happiness we truly desire.
I’m not saying acceptance from peer groups and leaders aren’t good things. They are good things that should have a degree of importance to you, just not more importance than the validation you give yourself when you work to better your life and the lives of those you come in contact with. When J. Cole runs a video of the S.W.A.T. team raiding his house, he doesn’t do so for the approval of the supposed leaders of society. He’s living in his truth in spite of how the policing organizations, with all their weaponry and influence, might feel. He’s doing what brings him peace because he relishes the opportunity to educate and empower his audience. So, seek your own mental stability, tranquility, and the happiness that comes from gratitude for your wins. Then you’ll also be comfortable sharing life’s challenges.
We need to be mindful of those gifts so we can remind ourselves how good we have it, even when days don’t go as planned. Imperfection can still be good. There may be lessons in perceived losses.
Don’t Let Frustration Lead Anger
I’ve felt the frustration of failure. I’ve had annoying clients and leadership that displayed some questionable ethics but, expressing that frustration outwardly with those emotions would be useless.
Taking note of the feelings that accompany frustration is useful, but expressing frustration may not be as useful. Anger often accompanies frustration. The ability to maintain composure in spite of the negative feelings is a useful skill likely to yield a more rewarding return. Finding internal peace when chaos surrounds you will increase your capacity to prevent mishaps from becoming disasters, even if only in your head.
To put it simply, find GRIT within yourself. GRIT is the perseverance to maintain passion for your ultimate goal even when obstacles are daunting. Developing GRIT will reveal the beauty of life that can only be seen when you master the two things that you can control, your attitude and effort. We always will seek connection with others but, we shouldn’t always seek others’ validation. When you have GRIT you’ve achieved a connection to yourself that helps you seek peace independent of others’ approval.