No-one will disagree that it’s nice to receive recognition for our efforts, to receive a thank you. It makes us feel appreciated to receive support for our actions. And that’s fine, as long we don’t become dependent on this recognition.
Ever since childhood we’ve been taught to pursue recognition: We receive rewards when we’re “good” and we’re punished when our behaviour doesn’t agree with our parents’ expectations. Later on, in school, we receive grades that determine the degree of recognition we deserve. This doesn’t change in university and we face the same dynamics in the workplace.
Little by little we’re conditioned to look for recognition. And this is where things get problematic: we let other people decide the value of our work, of our lifestyle. We strive to receive compliments at work, we want our family to be proud of us, we want our friends and acquaintances to admire us. We look for validation of our thoughts and actions outside ourselves.
If we don’t become aware of these dynamics and we don’t work actively towards deconditioning ourselves of the need to be acknowledged, we will be victims of this process for the rest of our lives. Slowly but surely, we start drifting further away from our dreams and hopes to fulfil other people’s expectations. We start to depend on the recognition we receive and it becomes impossible for us to undertake any action without a crowd of cheerleaders cheering us on along the way.
Recognition is nice when it drops in unexpected, when we don’t need it, when we don’t wait around for it to arrive.
When we do what we love, when we feel good and our way of life is coherent with our values, we no longer look for recognition, we no longer need other people to validate the legitimacy of our life.