Thoughts from 2011 while working in Thailand.
Craving affirmation; I think its something we all do at one time or another.
As human beings we are hard wired for affirmation. We respond to it.
When encouragement and affirmation comes from a person we admire or respect there is even a greater release of the “feel good” chemical in the brain.
Affirmation can push us on past the pain and difficulties we face.
We feel like we are heroes again… like somebody that actually matters.
- “You are such a good person.” “
- “You are really smart.”
- “You’re one of the most dedicated people I know.”
- “You are really good at what you do.”
- “I appreciate your heart.”
Stuff like this….you know you love it!
Like a chocolate-lover who is fasting chocolate then gets to take a bite:
you feel the rush, the energy, the excitement of even the smallest taste.
Thai people, like all people, love affirmation too.
One of their favorite compliments is “You are a good person.”
The problem is there is hardly an ounce of encouragement and affirmation in the Thai culture.
Thai people hardly ever hear people tell them this, but they like to say it about themselves. Even school teachers try to motivate their students through negative reinforcement. They use comparisons and show you how you could be so much better if you were like “such and such.”
That’s why I love trying to find reasons to tell Thai people why they are “good people” (คนดี khon dii).
At first they are shocked, then perplexed, but then you see encouragement light them up inside.
It is like something they are craving but never get.
Buddhism teaches detachment, even from what most would consider “good.”
Craving is a dirty word in Buddhism. The teaching doesn’t affect everyone in the culture the same, but I believe it is the foundation for the lack of personal encouragement. There is a fear of making someone too proud, even a misunderstanding of sinful craving (tahna) versus human need.
Yet Jesus teaches us “do unto others as you would have them do to you.”
Ah, here is the secret of receiving the affirmation and encouragement we crave.
Give it, sow it like a seed, make it a part of who you are, and you will see it returning to you.
From the fullness you receive, you will be able to continue to focus outwardly rather than on your own need.
What do you think? Are we as “sentient” beings hard wired for affirmation?
How are you practicing being a person of affirmation and encouragement?