Life is a roller-coaster between fear and confidence, insecurity and courage. We oscillate between both without rhyme or reason, never knowing the intricacies of the hidden triggers that allow us to move from one to the other with seeming ease.
One moment we can conquer the world, and the next we cannot get out of bed. One moment we’re convinced we will live our greatest, grandest dreams, and the next we force ourselves to accept that our lives cannot improve or ever be “perfect”.
Life becomes an endless battle between fear and faith, pushing forward and holding back, wanting more and settling for less.
Challenged, uncertain, and fearful, we approach every new challenge with the whispers of insecurity running through our brains.
“I’ve never done this before. I don’t know if I have the innate talent to succeed.”
We’ve all heard it: the people who are now enjoying the sweet taste of success were also afraid.
Those who enjoyed their single lives after a long-term relationship were just as anxious as you are.
Those who made the greatest memories on a solo trip were just as paralyzed by images of catastrophe as you are.
Those who became powerful innovators in their fields wondered if they had it in them like you do.
You and I both know this. We’ve heard it a million times. Yet we still fall under the spell of our own negative thoughts, wondering if we can handle the obstacles of tomorrow and somehow make them work for us.
Suddenly, in the depths of negative thinking, the magic antidote is unexpectedly dropped right under our nose. Its name is praise.
“You are so brave for breaking up with him – it’s not easy to do. I have never seen a rookie play the piano so well on their first lesson. Your speech was incredibly powerful and engaging, I can’t believe it just comes out like that.”
And so the tables have turned. Our reality has shifted. We’re no longer afraid, doubtful, or trepidatious about continuing to make an effort.
We’re no longer defaced when we make predictable and entirely expected mistakes.
We no longer hesitate when we feel afraid and our results don’t match our expectations. We march on forward and never fall into the spell of fear again.
Why? Because someone has confirmed that we’re on the right track, can handle what is coming, and will achieve results that are exactly as we hope they will be.
It’s interesting how quickly praise can help us ignore our own insecurities and fears. All we need is one person to tell us how great we are.
Praise is the fuel that helps us obliterate anxiety.
Praise is the feedback we expect when we’re confused about where we stand.
Praise is the golden key that unlocks the gates of effort, perseverance, and eventually, success.
One wonders if there are any other keys that can fit the same lock, for praise will not always be there when we need it.
Years later, after growing, changing, and becoming stronger, we find ourselves fully aligned with our life’s mission. We’re flawlessly executing every one of our god-given gifts. We’re entrenched in the new chapter of our lives, grateful, happy, and ready for more.
But praise can disappear without prior warning. It’s as easy as a slight change in the circumstances or the arrival of a new character into our environment. Through no fault of our own, and due to no error on our behalf, those who surround us are no longer willing to praise us.
No one says that we’re beautiful. No one says that we’re right. No one says our work is amazing and our path forward bright.
We are now experts, but we’ve lost the praise that we’ve become so accustomed to. We’re stuck halfway up the mountain, and without praise we start falling backwards.
We do our best and no one notices. We work beyond the ordinary and only mistakes are pointed out. We work out and no one sees it. We are questioned, devalued, and forced to consider unexpected negative feedback. Yes, we’re not perfect, but are we really that bad?
Is it hate? Is it jealousy? Is it me? What am I doing wrong?
Praise is heaped upon others, and deprived from us. Praise is given with ease everywhere around us, but never directly to us.
And what was nothing but an outside factor (completely disconnected from our inborn talents and the quality of our body, skills, and efforts) has now destroyed our own sense of worth.
Our performance falls. Our sharp mind goes to bed. Our self-esteem shatters. Our motivation dissipates into the fog of our minds. Tired, lethargic, and no longer able to figure out how to be happy, we’ve sunk into a very dark place.
All because we no longer get praised.
Can you see the connection between your environment and your level of energy, confidence, and self-esteem? Do you realize where you’re placing the key to your best self, and how easily you’re letting it go?
Though there seems to be a perfect link, the only thing connecting our best and worst selves is our minds. It is not those who are praising us (and their ways of coming and going with the waves of time).
Our talents haven’t changed, our skills have not disappeared, and our worth is never in question. Our ability to push through is still with us. We are still everything everyone once said we were, and everything we believe we are.
We are just as intelligent, capable, and beautiful as we’ve always been (whether or not everyone else can see it).
You figured out who you are and gained confidence through praise. But those qualities didn’t appear because of praise.
Praise was nothing but an external confirmation of what was already inside of you. It was nothing but an outside validation of your inalienable value. It was someone voicing what you should have known all along: that you are immensely talented and have a lot to contribute to the world.
The praise didn’t change you as much as it allowed you to ignore your negative thoughts about yourself.
It helped you disregard your fears because you were allowed to see them for the delusion that they are.
Yes, praise is a key that unlocks the door to your best self. But if you dare to open the door without praise, you will realize that it was never locked in the first place.
No key is needed.
You have the ability to ignore your insecurities and fears anytime you want. Just remember that they will always be there. The negative voice in your mind will always be heard. It can’t be deleted, but it can certainly be ignored.
Give yourself the praise that you’re missing. Remember how powerful it is, and how much you can do for others when you give it.
Andrew Gabelic is the CEO & Founder of Teledipity, a free pocket life coach with an eerie ability to send you the right self-improvement content at the right time (based on your personality and life stage). Check out what it says about you!