Why is it so important to feel validated by the outside world? Many of us are guilty of this at some point in our lives. A desire to feel accepted. A sense of belonging. An avoidance of rejection. Kirsten Weir, a contributing writer for the American Psychological Association’s monthly magazine, Monitor on Psychology, makes the following point in her article in reference to human evolution, “like hunger or thirst, our need for acceptance emerged as a mechanism for survival.” Understandable, but we have since evolved as a species. Our day-to-day survival mechanism is no longer a matter of “kill or be killed”. Yet we are so hardwired to this mentality that survival means social acceptance which comes in various forms—fitting in at the office, romantic relationships, acceptance into certain social circles (or as I often refer to them, “cliques”), “keeping up with the Joneses” (such as the over sharing and self-promotion on social media), just to name a few, in order to feel an ounce of self-worth.
Too often we try to paint a certain image of our lives rather than dedicating ourselves not only to developing our masterpiece but admiring the work as we go along. What exactly does that mean? In a nutshell, stop putting so much weight into what other people think about you! Constructing your life from the inside out, not the outside in, is more rewarding than the constant need to conform to the likes of others.
Growing up my mother would always say, “if you listen to the noise of the market you will never buy.” Got to love African proverbs! My takeaway from this message as I got older was, invest in yourself. If you constantly live your life based on what people say or think you will never make progress or reach your full potential in your own life. Those words resonated with me as a child, but I did not fully comprehend its true meaning. Now as an adult it is one of the many teachings I hold on to and hope to instill in my children.
It is fair to say our environment plays a key role in who we become. It is how we allow it to shape us, it either empowers or becomes a detriment to our genuine identities (not to mention overall health). Our genuine identity is our greatest piece of work—our masterpiece. An essential feature of a masterpiece is that it leaves an imprint wherever it goes. Live your life so that you leave an imprint on the lives you touch. Your masterpiece is what makes you stand out from the rest. Take the time to nurture and admire it. Use the lessons you learn throughout this journey to continue to enhance your “greatest work”.
Wife, Mother, Advocate