Week #3 – Desire, or Addiction?

Late blooming hibiscus, 2014

Late blooming hibiscus, 2014

“You care what your readers think.  You’ve even included SMART goals with publication dates for books one and two.  I can’t see this as anything other than Recognition for Creative Expression.”

So said my guide in his first critique of my written Definite Major Purpose.  I had asked if I absolutely had to have two PPNs, since the only Personal Pivotal Need I saw last year during the exercise matched the only one I saw this year:  Liberty.

Liberty, liberty, liberty!  Freedom to go where I will and do as I choose, and the resources to enjoy fully enjoy the going and doing!

None of the other six even registered in my consciousness in that instant of eyes’ opening after regulating my breathing and centering myself to the sound of Mark’s voice.  So it should have been a relief, for my guide to tell me what he saw in the rough draft of my DMP.

Only it wasn’t.

I have a deep-seated  distrust of recognition in any form.  Too many times in my life it has been a false thing, creating a craving for approval (read between the lines:  addiction), which in turn led to a slavish desire to dance to another’s will, unfair use of my good nature, and eventually mental and emotional burnout… all for the sake of praise from someone I admired and respected.  Yet the desire for Recognition for Creative Expression can’t be unhealthy, or it would not be a Personal Pivotal Need; if it were harmful, how could it feed a person’s soul?

So where is the line?  When does the desire to have your work recognized for the expression of soul and personality that it is, become unhealthy addiction?  And how to recognize the line before you cross it?

I might finally have part of the answer.  A thought sparked through my mind during the webinar, an image of a quote to the effect of “We are constantly teaching people how to treat us.”  Essentially, in every conversation, every interaction, the kind of behavior we tolerate from others towards ourselves tells them what we will let them get away with.  Some folks, if they find that you will let them take advantage of you, they will take advantage… until you finally say “Stop,” and mean it.  (Then, ideally, you’ll drop the user like a hot rock and let them go find someone else to treat as a doormat.)

Similarly, whether we know it or not, we are constantly teaching our own brain how to treat us, with every thought, every experience, every interaction between the conscious and subconscious minds.  You know that little nagging voice inside your head?  The one you can’t shut up?  The one that calls you fat, or lazy, or stupid, or a poor parent, or a lousy, selfish significant other?  The one that predicts ignominious, humiliating failure at the worst possible moment (generally right as someone you admire and whose good opinion you want walks by) – and then laughs inside you when its prediction becomes reality?  The one that can’t let a happy moment pass without some kind of nasty comment or qualifier?  That’s you.  That’s what you have programmed into your subconscious, what you’ve trained your own brain to say to you, with every negative thought you’ve ever let slip past your censors.  And if that little voice, that constant, subvocal commentary inside your head believes that you have no worth if you’re not being constantly praised for even the littlest of things…?

At that point… you’ve probably crossed the line from desiring Recognition for Creative Expression into unhealthy addiction and dependence on someone else’s good opinion of you.

Well.  I say ‘probably.’  So, wherein lies the balance between what’s good for us, and what will kill an otherwise independent, unique, thriving spirit?

  1. In knowing and believing in our own value, therefore giving ourselves the freedom to enjoy another’s appreciation of our work without believing that the appreciation has anything to do with our worth.  (Hey – Liberty isn’t solely external freedom and resources, you know.)
  2. In not silencing the inner voice – that’s impossible.  The conscious and the subconscious are always talking to each other – but in controlling your thoughts so that your inner voice has new, different, better, things to say.
Late blooming hibiscus, 2015

One year later, same plant. Growth happens.

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