Looking to others to stroke your ego is a losing battle. Frankly, it is not the job of family, friends, romantic partners or even colleagues to make you feel good about yourself. Likewise, it is not your job to stroke anyone’s ego. Through the development of a strong sense of self, seeking praise and compliments from others will no longer be necessary. In fact, sometimes praise and compliments are a means to manipulate and it is important to have mechanisms in place to protect yourself from that.
No one is responsible for stroking your ego…sorry.
The moment you think that someone “must” behave a certain way, you increase your chances of being disappointed unnecessarily. The late American psychologist Albert Ellis stated:
“There are three musts that hold us back: I must do well. You must treat me well. And the world must be easy.” ~ Albert Ellis
Ellis called all the “shoulds” and “musts” in our lives “musterbations.” Ellis believed that we should eliminate the “musterbations” for a more happy life. With respect to seeking compliments and praise, instead of looking to others to fulfill your needs, perhaps it is time to look to yourself for that very fulfillment. Yes, it is nice when compliments and praise are received, though it is not required. It is not required because you can develop your own strong sense of self. This does not mean that everything has to be perfect at every given moment. Perfection is another “musterbation.” Finding a balance, sometimes can be a challenge, though it is not impossible. Here are 5 activities that may help with developing a strong sense of self:
1. Identify the source of your inner critic.
Sometimes it is easy to judge your own actions and behaviours. However, sometimes the judgement derives from an outer source. For example, you may have had a parent who told you repeatedly that you were irresponsible for a variety of reasons. If something is said to you often enough, sometimes these ideas can take up residence in the mind. So based on the above example, the next time you make an error, you may be more inclined to believe yourself to be irresponsible, whether it is reasonable to believe or not. This is why, challenging ideas is integral in determining how true these ideas are. Maybe there may be some truth, but it won’t be the end all be all. Appropriate changes can be made, without excessive self-blame that holds you back. Being able to address your inner critic, helps form and develop a strong sense of self which is not based on someone else’s beliefs about you.
2. Implement a practice of self care.
It is important to take good care of yourself. It is important to reflect on what you truly need in order to do that. Maybe the act of grooming yourself, a walk in a nature park or a good night’s sleep are elements of self-care for you. Only you know what is best for yourself. It is absolutely essential to take the time to care for yourself. You are as important as anyone else in your life and are deserving of the time you take to care for yourself. When you do this, you become an important figure in your own life and a strong sense of self follows.
3. Exercise personal boundaries.
It is natural for many to be helpful to others. However, sometimes helpfulness, in excess, can come at a cost. When you over exert yourself to please others, you risk burn out. When you are burned out, you are not able to care for yourself properly. Striking a balance is key. Place appropriate boundaries to maintain your own mental and physical stability. This means that you can not always be agreeable. This means that you say “no” more often. When you attend to personal boundaries, you are less likely to feel resentful. You will feel like your personal health is not compromised. You will no be drained by the wishes of others and you will be free to be yourself unapologetically.
4. Find ways to express your creativity.
Whether you paint, write or dance, expressing your creatively has immense benefits. Expressing yourself through creativity helps you to know yourself better. It helps you get in touch with what is truly important to you. Creativity also serves as a form of release. You can release difficult emotions through this release. Creatively expressing yourself allows you to work thorugh problems without judgement. In turn, you are enabled to be your most authentic self.
5. Accept that mistakes happen and move on.
It is a fact of life mistakes happen. Some people have a tendency to beat themselves up when a mistake occurs. If you are one of those people, you may be holding yourself back and you may hinder your development of a strong sense of self. While it is important to acknowledge an error and remedy the error (if possible), it is also important to not dwell on it. Instead, perhaps see the moment as a pivotal moment, a time when you can decide to make a different choice. Small changes to better yourself, also contribute to a strong sense of self.
You are not responsible for stroking someone else’s ego…yay!
You are not responsible for stroking another person’s ego, no matter how much you love them. If you feel that you can give meaningful compliments or praise, by all means do it. Though, if you feel as though you must compliment and praise, to be loved and treated well, perhaps your intentions are not in the right place. Worse, if you are treated poorly because you did not provide an endless supply of compliments and praise to a loved one, you may have a narcissist on your hands. While we all have a little narcissism, some people have an unhealthy dose of narcissim.
In general, the unhealthy variety of narcissists mainly focus on themselves. They often believe themselves to be superior to others. They are often confused when people do not provide them with ongoing praise and attention, which they believe they are entitled to. In order to feed their egos, they feed on the compliments and praise from others in their lives, often through manipulation. When a narcissist does not get what they want from a person, they treat that person poorly by demeaning and insulting them. Further, according to recent research, supplying a narcissist with constant praise and attention does not help them, it only feeds their narcissism. So, stroking a narcissist’s ego is never the answer.
While It may be tempting to be drawn to praise and compliments, caution should be taken. It is important to maintain your own supply of positive self-image to fuel your own self-esteem and self-confidence. While some compliments and praise are given with good intentions, some are given as way to manipulate. Having a strong sense of self, serves as a protective layer, which is sometimes needed to navigate this very complex world.
If you develop a strong sense of self, you are more likely to attract others with good intentions, while fending of those who may have ill-will towards you. As you further develop a strong sense of self, there will undoubtedly be a higher percentage of loving caring people in your life versus those who wish to manipulate you. Most importantly, you will have yourself and a strong self-identity. Who you choose to have in your life will serve as a mutual benefit to you and the other person. In turn, life becomes more meaningful through true connections, including the strong relationship you have to yourself.