Reassurance, Acceptance, A pat on the back, Positive re-enforcement –
These are things that are taught in parenting classes to ensure the child is raised in a well-rounded environment and to promote the emotional stability of the child. Children seek praises to enhance their self-esteem. Parents are taught not to always focus on the negative attributes/behaviours but also to focus on the positive behaviours. When a positive behaviour is enacted the parent is encouraged to reward the behaviour in order for the behaviour to continue. This is a well-known behavioural theory described as operant conditioning.
As time develops we are therefore conditioned to seek out these rewards for positive behaviours. From parent-child relationship, to teacher-child relationship, to adult – boss relationship. By seeking positive re-enforcement it can be inferred there is a process of validation within our psyche. By hearing “well done” “good job” for doing something well makes us feel warm inside. It lets us know we are on the right path.
Some may say there is nothing wrong with this. The ability to modify/manipulate behaviour can be of benefit. If praises, reassurance and positive re-enforcement helps raise self-esteem that is a good thing. For the record I do not disagree with this, however with reflection the CONSTANT NEED for reassurance, praise and positive re-enforcement from external sources can be very damaging to a person’s self-worth.
At which point as adults do we learn that we can validate ourselves? Define our own self-worth without the need of others? Have you realised the different types of relationships mentioned previously are all those where one is in perceived position of authority. Authority can be associated with power. When do we as individuals begin to take that “power” back.
This leads to the notion of self-love. The ability to have the confidence within ones self to know that we are good enough. The ability to assess the situation on our own merits and not someone else’s. The next question is how do we validate and gain the confidence? Positive affirmations with convictions can be a start. The same way positive praise from external environment can be soothing. Internal praise can work just as well.
The concept of believing in own capabilities can be a foreign phenomenon, however with time it can and does develop.