Humans are designed so that somebody outside themselves tells them who they are.
The blog post from which this week’s ‘Saturday quote’ is taken talks about ‘creators’ (artists, musicians… creative types generally), and how they are not able to find affirmation of their work and abilities within themselves, they’re always looking for someone outside of themselves to say ‘Wow, that’s great!’
This, Donald assures us, is natural, and it is true of non-creators, too. We need to be told we’re beautiful/handsome, capable, intelligent, lovely and valuable.
Interestingly, after writing the above paragraph, I had an entirely unconnected conversation with someone who, when asked what books had informed her thinking over recent years, cited a book called Status Anxiety by philosopher Alain de Botton.
On his blog, de Botton describes the book thus:
This is a book about an almost universal anxiety that rarely gets mentioned directly: an anxiety about what others think of us; about whether we’re judged a success or a failure, a winner or a loser.
He offers three possible responses to this anxiety, the third of which, apparently, is Christianity. This non-Christian has spotted that the way to avoid the everlasting fear of what others think is not to develop a thicker skin, or to deny your humanity, but to look to a higher source: rather than seeking affirmation from other insecure, anxious creatures, go to the designer, the only one who isn’t insecure and seeking to find his value from somewhere else.
Who does He say you are?