Seeking Praise is not Praiseworthy

Proud PeacockI came across this saying this morning whilst reading an excerpt from the Tao Te Ching and it struck a chord. Sometimes it can feel that someone is sharing their efforts with us, be it artistic, musical, a business endeavour or any nature, in order to get an accolade.

It has a different feel to someone who is looking for constructive feedback. It’s as though you’re being asked to bathe in their self glorification. Proud peacock syndrome. Or maybe more aptly, you’re being asked to re-enforce their self image.

Occasionally too, seeking praise might come form a different place, such as when someone is feeling a sense of desperation and is seeking recognition in order to regain their sense of self worth. That too can feel loaded. Probably because there’s really only one response that they’re seeking.

It’s subtle though, because there is obviously the situation where someone genuinely doesn’t believe in themselves and lacks confidence in their endeavours. On these occasions it feels natural to want to boost their confidence and give encouragement – but that’s the point, it feels natural, you don’t feel coerced into giving an pre-anticipated, expected and acceptable response.

I feel myself physically recoil in these situations. I have felt bad for it too and have questioned myself and whether it reflects a lack of kindness. Reflecting on this expression today helped me realise that actually it’s a response to being asked to feed someone’s ego and not being prompted to communicate from an authentic place. Giving praise and recognition should come naturally and from the heart. Then it’s a joy.

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