I strolled through the mall feeling strangely at peace with the swirling masses. Manic mothers & frustrated fathers drifted past unsure how to react to their teenagers cry’s for the freshest Yeezy’s. I know what Dad is thinking, ‘What the F*ck are Yeezy’s?’
The familiar sound of Christmas song struck my ears and without thinking I began to whistle. Half a minute past and I had reached my destination, the toilet. I stopped and smiled, not because I was excited to unleash my morning breakfast upon the unsuspecting porcelain.
I smiled because for the first time since I was 12 years old I felt completely content with the person I was. So what does all this have to do with whistling? I realised, as I was sitting comfortably on the sh*tter, that my whistling was not to gain any sort of attention. It was not a way of hiding myself from the chaos surrounding me. It was not something I was doing in order to impress, belittle or outshine someone.
I was whistling because at the time… I felt like whistling.
As thousands of people converged on the mall in search of something, anything to impress those around them. I strolled and whistled, completely content with the odd looks I received and completely comfortable with the person I was.
For the first time in my adult life I felt no need to impress anyone. It got me thinking… Who the F*ck are we all trying so hard to impress & what is driving us?
Before you break into an anxiety attack realising that half of the decisions in your adult life have been based around the judgments and opinions of others. Take a breath. Calm yourself. You are not alone & you alone have the power to change.
If you are still reading then we can comfortably say that you are a slave to the opinions of others. To varying degrees of course. Some of you may be completely and utterly controlled by the opinions of others & some of you may just be slightly influenced.
Regardless of where you sit on the spectrum, shall we assume that your need for validation is worrying? If the answer is yes then let’s also go ahead and assume that you want to make a change.
The first question you need to ask yourself is why? What invisible force is pushing you toward this constant need for validation? Is this invisible force actually visible and staring you in the face? Are you actually been controlled by a force more powerful than god?
You might laugh at that last question but consider this; do you still believe in God? If the answer is no then you are probably well aware that God died 100’s of years ago when humanity decided to start believing in the power we possess. What need do we have for God and a greater purpose when we have the knowledge and means to create whatever we want. Who needs heaven when we can create our very own version of paradise here on earth?
If we have the power to create everything our hearts desire, to make miracles a reality & too control the outcome of our lives. Is that not something worth sharing? Worth validating? God showed his power off from time to time.. why can’t we?
We still need purpose though, so without God what is giving us purpose? Is this new deity the invisible force that pushes us toward our need to impress others?
Let’s stop asking questions and get to the root of the problem. Yuval Noah Harari, author of the best seller Homo Deus. suggests that it is in fact Growth and Power that have taken over the roll of God.
We are addicted to growth because it gives us the feeling of purpose & power is our reward. A reward that quite often steers us in the wrong direction & plays on the desires of our ego. Happiness can quickly turn to insecurity. Insecurity drives us to base our actions upon the reactions of others.
Could the reason you crave the validation of others be due to your need for more power? Is that need driving you to listen more and more to your Ego? If this is true then how long after you bought those new Yeezy’s did you start feeling sh*t again?
An addiction to power and status can wreak havoc on your self esteem. The cycle is endless and the happy moments come less frequently the more material power and status you accumulate. Why do you think so many billionaires are depressed and lonely.
There is only so much Strippers & Cocaine we can take before it all just becomes depressing. So one answer could be that you are seeking material power and as you grow you attempt to be validated more and more by others.
The other answer comes down to our basic human need for significance. We all want to feel important and in the modern world we often achieve significance through likes and comments. Validation from people that we sometimes never meet in real life.
When God still played a role in our lives we would do things regardless of how famous it might make us. We would die alone in a battlefield seeking nothing but to defend the honour of God and Country. We would have children and live simple lives knowing that our very existence was significant in the eyes of our God.
We did not need the validation of others because we already had it from God.
With God out of the picture we need to find significance in other ways & for many of us the easiest way to get our fix is through our phones. After all the number of likes and comments you get is the only way to validate your happiness right?
So you are either addicted to material power or attempting to fulfill your need for significance through the opinions of your extended social media community? If one of those sound like you then the next question you probably want to ask is How?
How do I fix the problem before it takes complete control of my life, purpose & direction?
So what is your why? Are you addicted to your new God: Growth? Is your addiction to growth pushing you further and further down a material pathway? I assume that this material growth is giving you a mild to strong addiction.. your addiction is power & you evaluate that power by the number of people you impress.
After all, a brand new Lamborghini with this weeks escort sitting on the bonnet is sure to get thousands of likes and new followers.
Or maybe you are just sick of feeling as if you mean nothing in a life devoid of purpose? ‘With God in absence who the f*ck is going to make me feel significant?’
Dealing with Power
Let’s start by addressing the issue of power. The simple answer would be to relinquish all desire for material belongings, eliminate power from your life & while your at it become a monk. Jay Shetty did exactly that and he is arguably one of the most content & influential philosophers of our time.
By giving up his need for material power and pursuing a path of contribution & kindness. Jay was able to develop a new kind of power, his power comes from what he gives rather than what he accumulates. Could this be the answer to your problem?
I am not suggesting you give up all that you have and pursue spiritual enlightenment as a monk. A more realistic first step could be to give back anonymously. Buy a coffee for a homeless person but don’t post about it. Just do it to impress yourself.
Instead of going out next Saturday night and flaunting your power regardless of how it makes others feel. Spend the evening at an orphanage playing board games with lonely children in search of adult guidance. Do it because it feels good in your heart & because it brings love to those who have none.
If power is something you wish to hold onto then try directing your growth towards an idea that excites you & gives you purpose. Elon Musk is by anyones standards, a powerful man but he has no desire for the validation of others. Why?
Quite possibly, he is to busy focusing his energy towards bettering the planet or toward exploring the cosmos. Elon has no desire to impress others because his work speaks for itself. His power comes from his contribution to the world and to others not from 2000 strangers liking his latest super yacht post.
Ask yourself these questions - Are you happy? Truly happy? Or does your happiness come from the validation of others?
Check your ego at the door, stop living for the validation of others and start focusing on growth that gives you purpose and contributes in a positive way. It won’t be easy & at times you will fail but remember to ask yourself; Am I truly happy trying to impress a world I know little about?
Dealing with Significance?
What is the point of it all? Life! With no God & no heaven what is the purpose of it all? Everyone wants to feel significant, to feel as if we mean something in this giant unforgiving universe. Perhaps the opinions of others make you feel significant? Maybe you feel significant when strangers stare at your fresh new Yeezy’s? Are those nine piercings on your face making you feel unique? Does your mutual hatred of the new guy at work give you a sense of significance among your colleagues?
There is no judgement here. We all have our own ways of meeting our need for significance and purpose in a godless world. The question is how do we meet these needs without relying on the opinions of others?
Two ways come to mind;
-Pursue a purpose greater than your own life. Join Greenpeace and fight to save the planet. Start a Not For Profit organisation that aims to bring clean water to the whole world. Write a book that empowers others or, just write a book that brings happiness to millions (Harry Potter). Spend your life trying to get man to Mars… the list is endless & finding purpose is not as hard as you might think.
-Be present and give up your need for validation. Nothing eliminates anxiety more than presence & just being. Buddhist monks have known this for 1000’s of years & some may argue that they are the most content & happy humans on the planet.
Monks choose to give up the need for validation completely and instead focus on just accepting the life they have. Becoming a monk is a bit extreme but you could start by practicing meditation and mindfulness. Your next step might be to give up your life draining addiction to social media?
Swap your social scrolling for real life community engagement. Could going out for dinner with a friend be a better option than validating yourself through tinder? Maybe a walk through the park might offer you more happiness than a scroll through Facebook? Maybe a day spent in the mountains with good friends might just cure the anxiety you feel after posting on Instagram?
Some of the happiest humans on earth choose to live the simplest lives surrounded by community, love and a simple purpose. Maybe the best option for you is a cottage in the woods, close to a small village where you make a modest income roasting the best coffee in town.
Do not feel judged. This blog is designed to bring awareness to a problem that many of us have, including myself. But next time you feel anxious about how others view you & what impression you are making on the world ask yourself that simple question - ‘Who am I trying to Impress?’
If this all feels like too much effort then I will leave you with one final suggestion. Get rid of the phone & look up! It’s time to love yourself!
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Life is Great. Travel is Better.
Paulo & Jacques