I was thinking about the need to have others call my work ‘good,’ when I remembered the story of the mother who gave her son two sweaters. He let her know how much he liked them. The next day he wore one of them, and she said, “What’s the matter? You didn’t like the other one?”
The need for approval cannot be satiated. It needs to be tamped down, because there is no ultimate resolution or release from it. I have a friend who has garnered many accolades, but always says the approval has not come “from the right people.” In her case it is a spouse who cannot bring himself to say, “You’ve done good.” For many, it is the voice of a parent, even if no longer here, who is forever unsatisfied.
In her book on writing, Crafting Stories for Children, Nancy Lamb calls this voice ‘the spoiler,’ and suggests talking back to it, even getting sassy. I think this applies to all we do.
Because the never-satisfied, never all right, who-do-you-think-you-are strains have overwhelmed too many good efforts. I write this on a day when I’m resolved to punch ‘em back. Go ahead; try telling me my post is worthless, I’m wasting my time, or worse- that it’s nice, but so what?
Today it will not matter. I got my punching gloves on. Tomorrow is another day.