The Affirmation Dilemma

Everyone needs affirmation…

“Great job!”

“You’re valuable to us.”

“Thank you for all you do.”

“I don’t know what I’d do without you.”

In fact, it’s a good practice to find someone every day to affirm. It’s admirable to be someone who gives praise to others.

But there is a dark side to affirmation, as well. Some people are driven by the praises of others… So much so that, when they haven’t had their “affirmation tank” filled up, they do whatever it takes to get their fill. Things like:

  • guilt others into giving a compliment
  • make self disparaging, or deprecating remarks so others can comfort them
  • become offended at other people to draw attention to themselves, and warrant an “apology”

These are desperate attempts to be noticed, and get attention. Unfortunately, this attention they crave is exactly the attention they do not need. And, when they have run out of people willing to placate to this unhealthy desire, they will sabotage the friendship and move on to another.

Here are a few thoughts that might help those craving affirmation:

  1. Shower others with heartfelt, honest compliments.
    In doing this, you will feel better about yourself, because you’re contributing to the wellbeing of others. In addition, you are “doing unto others as you would have them do unto you.” (Matthew 7:12)
  2. Stop “Keeping score”.
    When you do kind things and give affirmation to others, don’t do it expecting something in return. You’ll quickly find misery if you’re comparing yourself to others, and only giving when you’re given to in return. You’ll only attract similar relationships. Which leads to the next thought…
  3. Cultivate healthy, give-and-take relationships.
    By building relationships in which you bless the other person, you surround yourselves with people that will reciprocate the goodness, and be a friend in the good and bad times. You’ll find that they provide the healthy affirmation to sustain you, and you won’t have to resort to manipulating their friendship to receive obligatory, insincere “praise”.
  4. Find self-worth in your own accomplishments…
    …and not in the praises of people. At the end of the day, you will never be happy until you’re happy with yourself. No matter how much others puff you up or speak kind of you, your self-evaluation and belief is what you will act on. So, do good and take pride in doing good things “well”.
  5. Pray for God to help you find your real affirmation in Him.
    This one is huge. If you’re looking to mankind for your praise and affirmation, you’re never going to get enough to satisfy you. You will always battle with discontentment until you let Christ be all you need. “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation… I can do all this through [Christ] who gives me strength.” (Phil 4:12-13)

Question: How do you deal with the craving for affirmation? Have you ever struggled with this? What did you do to overcome it?

Author: Jay Jones

Jay is an author, veteran church planter, speaker, and the pastor of the Pentecostals of Kentwood. He's a passionate worshipper of Jesus Christ, a husband, daddy, pastor, and a ‘pretty good guy’. Jay is also an ordained minister of the United Pentecostal Church, where he currently serves as a Presbyter in West Michigan.

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