Our addiction culture – why praise might be holding you back

Acceptance, followed and surpassed only by praise, are two of the most addictive and potentially destructive ‘drugs’ around. The great majority of us are already under their spell – just look at social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram and the continuous hunt for likes, comments, praise and acceptance. As the old saying goes, “praise is something children cry for and grown people die for.”

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with giving or receiving true authentic praise. All of us appreciate praise for hard work and genuine accomplishments, however, it’s a mistake to make praise an objective. Do not seek out praise. Praise is given when doing anything meaningful and impressive; perform great and praise will follow. And if the praise never comes and the likes are in the single digits? So, what! Why care? Achieving greatness is the real reward, not the fickle approval of people you know or people you will never know. Do your thing and do it well.

And the need to report your achievements to the whole world, or at least to your ‘friends’ on the internet, in order to harvest some praise and approval indicates that your actions are about as uninteresting as your personality. People who broadcast their accomplishments usually do so to feel superior. They want your focus on them. Don’t go around telling people what you have accomplished, show them your work instead. The focus should be on your work, not on you. Those who appreciate what you do and find it meaningful will surely tell you so – and those who don’t, who cares anyway? The reward is in doing something good and put it out there for those interested.

/Joachim Bartoll, Nov 2010, edited October 6, 2020.

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