The Art Of Disapproval

The Art Of Disapproval

"In doing what you do - not for your body, not for your soul, but only to get people's approval - this is one of the main reasons for the bad life of people." –Leo Tolstoy, Russian novelist. 

For a very long time it was considered immoral to live for yourself. People who do not really need general approval usually cause bewilderment of the society. After all, the same society, theoretically, lives by the opinions of the surrounding people. How often did you ask yourself, "Do I like him / her? , What will others think?" or "I wonder, but what they say about me? Human psychology is made in a way that we constantly live, trying to please other people. Each of us tries to look the best, wear the best clothes, and also try to earn a good reputation, because each of us is pleased when other people speak well of us. On one hand, we understand that this is a part of life and this is normal, but sometimes it seems that this is the only thing that motivates people, which makes them improve themselves, and achieve their goals. After all, you see, very few of us will try to achieve something if we know that no one will appreciate it.

There are people who do not need it at all, they like what they do, regardless of whether others approve of it or not, however, it is a minority. Usually a life itself is not enough for a human being, so he starts to look for something more, starts to strive for something. A person always needs someone or something to witness, an involuntary evaluator of actions and deeds. The one who praises, scolds, encourages, inspires and motivates. So that this someone depended on you, and you, in turn, depended on that someone. Moreover, it is better that there would be many of those, who will evaluate your actions. In fact, the essence of this issue lies not in the problems of our society. Most likely, the essence lies in ourselves, in our love for ourselves, in our desire to do something for ourselves. When a person is not sure of himself or his own merits, and even more often, if he often feels himself undervalued by surrounding people, he wants to prove to them the opposite. In such cases, a person suddenly begins to try to please the others, or, to achieve something, so that everyone will talk about him, in a few words – to stand out. 


You would ask, what do I mean by all this? I know the situation when one of my friends met a long time ago with a man; let us call him Jeffrey*. She was much more successful and better looking than he was, and so you ask, why then a girl like her was with someone like him? The answer is simple; she was madly in love with his character and his intellect. However, the problem was that despite all his erudition, this man was very insecure. She hoped that by being close to Jeffrey, she would help him succeed in life, but in fact, he felt inferior, being next to her. She had to cheer him up constantly and, it seemed, that there were no special results. Of course, it was very tiring for her and gradually the feelings began to fade. 


Time passed, she met another man who she had liked more because with him she felt different, and she broke off relations with Jeffrey. They have been going out for a month, but it has been five years since the break-up and Jeffrey still holds a grudge against her. For a year, he was in deep depression. However, in the last four years he suddenly began to work hard on himself. He started to go to the gym, participated in events, actively looked for matches on Tinder, took five dogs from the shelter, participated in charity and became a blood donor. There were rumors that he even wanted to run for president and then he himself publicly confirmed it on one of the banquets arranged by their mutual friends (however, people assumed he was kidding and probably had too much to drink). On the same banquet, he performed solo, although he hated singing earlier. 


Now many people speak of him, almost at every corner people praised him. It seemed to her that soon there would be an article in a newspaper stating that he saved the kittens from the burning high-rise building. In fact, she was very happy for him, but his inability to forgive had worried her, even after she repeatedly apologized to him, emailed him and even wrote letters on his home mail. However, in return, she heard only humiliation and insults. If she saw him in the city, he gave her the side-eye. She was perplexed. While telling me this story she poured her heart out and thereby, led me to write this article. I have many questions left in my mind. Were his actions a desire to become better, help people, or the desire to appear on the headlines? Do his actions still relate to his attitude towards her, even after so many years? At last, how often do people do something for themselves, and not for the approval of those around them? 

Returning to the topic that I stopped at when I made a hypothesis that the underlying issue is based on the dilemma that people very often need someone who can appreciate their actions. Would he do charity, if he knew that the others would not appreciate it and his ex-girlfriend will not hear about it? Would he publicly declare that he wants to run for a president if he knew that this would not arouse the guests' interest? Would Jeffrey sing for himself, not for the public? 
How often are we controlled by the public opinion? Is it toxic? Does it make us dependent and eat us from within, or does it force us to move forward? Perhaps, someone of the readers was in the place of Jeffrey and could relate. However, the essence of this article is not to condemn. It is safe to assume that everyone had this situation before, and even if not, each of us had a desire to make others talk about us. In the end, we are all people and we all understand each other. 

I have a question for the readers. Surely, each of us has a favorite hobby or something that we love to do. I want each of you to ask yourself: would you continue to do what you do if you knew that it will not be approved of others? Moreover, I want to ask myself the same question: would I write if I knew that people would not approve/like my book? I immediately answer - yes. On the one hand, I very much hope that my book will help people understand themselves. Perhaps it will lead to some thoughts, make people dig deeper into things, but on the other hand, I'm absolutely sure that there are probably many people who consider my book a pure nonsense, and even if I had the lowest rating, it would not stop me from continuing to write it. Because the desire to do what I like exceeds the desire to be liked by other people, and I believe that this is the key to happiness and harmony. 


We all are looking for approval in varying degrees when expressing our point of view or doing something. But it is important that an approval does not become the only incentive for a person.

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