Point Lookout: a free weekly publication of Chaco Canyon Consulting
Volume 4, Issue 8;   February 25, 2004: When You Need a Lift

When You Need a Lift


When we depend on praise, positive support or consumption to feel good, we're giving other people or things power over us. Finding within ourselves whatever we need to feel good about ourselves is one path to autonomy and freedom.

As they walked out to the parking lot, Ellen tried to console him. "Maybe they were confused and didn't want to admit it," she said. "It took, what, three hours till I finally got it, didn't it?"

Two coffees

Two coffees. Photo (cc) 2.0 by chichacha

Bob was unconvinced. "I don't know, they all just kinda sat there. Like they'd heard the idea before, and they were so bored they just wanted to move on."

Ellen persisted. "Look, I have to get going. Let's meet for coffee tomorrow morning, 7:30."

"OK, but if I'm not there, don't call the paramedics. I'll probably be sleeping off a bender. Just kidding."

Although he's still able to make lame jokes, Bob is feeling pretty low about how his presentation was received. He wanted a more obvious expression of approval, and he was disappointed.

When you depend on praise from others to feel good about yourself, you're giving other people a lot of power. Here are two other forms of this pattern:

When you depend
on praise from others
to feel good about yourself,
you're giving other people
a lot of power
Approving multitudes
Dependence on universal acclamation or honor can be even more dangerous, because it can be difficult to achieve. Bob might be caught in this trap.
Acquired treats
Acquired treats are goods or services that anyone with enough money can buy. For some, the intensity of the reward is in inverse proportion to the number of people who can acquire the treat (legally or otherwise).

Instead of praise, approval, acclamation, or treats, rely on yourself. You'll experience a level of happiness that's otherwise unavailable. And with it comes a bonus: you can give yourself a lift whenever you want it.

Here are some things to keep in mind as you build your power to appreciate yourself:

Begin within
When you want to give yourself a lift, focus first on your breathing — a few slow breaths at least. Find your center.
There's no one else like you
We're all unique. People are so complicated that there are too few of us to require repetition. There are some situations that we alone are able to handle best. The needed combination of skills, knowledge, abilities, and interest resides in no one else.
We don't appreciate each other
Think of a colleague at work. Ask yourself, "How often have I thought about his or her uniqueness?" If you're like most of us, not often. And other people think about your uniqueness about as rarely as you think of theirs. In part, this is why so many of us feel unappreciated.
You're the world's expert on you
No one knows as much about you as you do. When you need a lift, rely on the world's expert on you.

If you haven't yet appreciated yourself today, now would be a good time for it. If you have, appreciate yourself for having appreciated yourself. Go to top Top  Next issue: Names and Faces  Next Issue

Rick BrennerThe article you've been reading is an archived issue of Point Lookout, my weekly newsletter. I've been publishing it since January, 2001, free to all subscribers, over the Web, and via RSS. You can help keep it free by donating either as an individual or as an organization. You'll receive in return my sincere thanks — and the comfort of knowing that you've helped to propagate insights and perspectives that can help make our workplaces a little more human-friendly. More

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More articles on Emotions at Work:

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As we've seen, some cognitive biases can contribute to the incidence of scope creep in projects and other efforts. Confirmation bias, which causes us to prefer evidence that bolsters our preconceptions, is one of these.
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In difficult face-to-face negotiations — or any face-to-face negotiations — seating arrangements do matter. Here's an exploration of one common seating pattern.

See also Emotions at Work for more related articles.

Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout

A tangle of cordageComing March 28: Four Overlooked Email Risks: II
Email exchanges are notorious for exposing groups to battles that would never occur in face-to-face conversation. But email has other limitations, less-often discussed, that make managing dialog very difficult. Here's Part II of an exploration of some of those risks. Available here and by RSS on March 28.
A Mustang GT illegally occupying two parking spaces at Vaughan Mills Mall, OntarioAnd on April 4: Narcissistic Behavior at Work: III
People who behave narcissistically tend to regard themselves as special. They systematically place their own interests and welfare ahead of anyone or anything else. In this part of the series we consider how this claimed specialness affects the organization and its people. Available here and by RSS on April 4.

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