do something · essay

Praise

I have never been praised for my singing voice, except for some mild positive comments. I view this as an entirely good thing.

You see, when we get praised for something, particularly when we are young, we may start to build up our self-imagine around that thing. It becomes part of who we are. But the thing is, we may not actually be particularly good at it in another setting. And we usually always have room for improvement.

When we get praised, we often will start to build our ego and self-worth around that thing. This is dangerous, because our self-worth shouldn’t really be based in what we do; it’s just who we are, and it is still there even when we can’t do something anymore, or we can’t do it as well as we thought.

We shouldn’t stop praising people, but we need to be careful with our children and praise in the right way. So that they know they have self-worth even if they realize later on that there are millions of people who are smarter than them, and stronger than them, and better than them at doing certain things.

Instead of saying, “You sing really well,” try, “I love to hear you sing.”

Instead of saying, “You are really smart,” say something like, “I really am proud of how hard you have worked in school.”

Sometimes we do things whether we are good at it or not–we do it because we enjoy it. And that’s much better way to be, doing things independent of whether we are better than someone else, doing something because it feels right, instead of doing something to inflate our ego and make us feel better about ourselves.

And stop praising yourself too–you don’t have to BE a good writer or a good singer or good at anything. You just exist. You DO. And that’s enough.

(Written January 2018)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *