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The Price of Feeling Good


Lance_Navarro
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I recently read this and it stuck with me. So, I figured I'd ask, how do we, especially in this age of social media, where outside validation becomes so appealing and motivating, maintain a positive sense of self? Are you able to look in the mirror and like what you see or do you tend to focus on the "flaws"? Is self-validation becoming more and more difficult and are the standards for beauty, which we idealize, fair and healthy?

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I definitely see physical changes that I dont like when I look in the mirror, but just attribute it to aging. I also recognize the options available to correct these new flaws should I choose to do so. But I am self supporting and self-sufficient, and at 66 thankful for the gift of life. And part of my happiness lies in the fact that I give ZERO fucks about what others think about me. I stay true to myself, am honest and giving to others and am proud of my accomplishments. So yeah, for the most part, I'm feelin good goin into 2018.

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Since my recovery and getting older (41) and reevaluating whats important I've recently decided I am perfectly flawed and I am ok with that. So long as I make myself happy and love myself first before anything else everything else will fall into place and all will be right in my world. I'm done with the thought of living for others and pleasing them. It's all about me. Sound selfish? Maybe. Maybe not.

 

Hugs,

Greg

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The price of feeling good about yourself because others approve of you is feeling bad about yourself when they don't.

 

I recently read this and it stuck with me. So, I figured I'd ask, how do we, especially in this age of social media, where outside validation becomes so appealing and motivating, maintain a positive sense of self? Are you able to look in the mirror and like what you see or do you tend to focus on the "flaws"? Is self-validation becoming more and more difficult and are the standards for beauty, which we idealize, fair and healthy?

 

In the narrow context of the quote, I dont think this is possible. In general, I'd say you have to be more selective about whose opinion matters to you. Technology makes it possible for more people to reveal themselves to other people than ever before. There is a temporary gap in the ability to cope with this volume of exposure. But eventually social customs and expectations catch up. This has happened many times before and I certainly wouldn't bet against it happening again.

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Since my recovery and getting older (41) and reevaluating whats important I've recently decided I am perfectly flawed and I am ok with that. So long as I make myself happy and love myself first before anything else everything else will fall into place and all will be right in my world. I'm done with the thought of living for others and pleasing them. It's all about me. Sound selfish? Maybe. Maybe not.

 

Hugs,

Greg

 

Not selfish at all.

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I think that there is a larger context here worth mentioning. In short, I believe this gets to the notion that many people allow others (i.e., family, friends, etc.) to have "votes" on their own lives. We live in an age where people think that it is proper (and necessary!) to comment freely on anyone and everyone. For some reason, people take these comments seriously. I sure as hell do not. My personal view is that as long as 1) I like the person I see in the mirror (and a reference to the OP!), and 2) what I'm doing is legal and reasonably moral (recognizing that can be a fluid concept..) then the rest of the world simply can butt out.

 

Also: disconnecting from media, both social and general, can be helpful. I have no social media presence and I don't feel that I've missed anything. I restrict my consumption of news media to daytime hours as the tone of the world now is so offputting that news exposure in the calming hours of the evening is disruptive.

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I recently read this and it stuck with me. So, I figured I'd ask, how do we, especially in this age of social media, where outside validation becomes so appealing and motivating, maintain a positive sense of self? Are you able to look in the mirror and like what you see or do you tend to focus on the "flaws"? Is self-validation becoming more and more difficult and are the standards for beauty, which we idealize, fair and healthy?

 

Although @Lance_Navarro posted that quote with a mirror photo, I dont interpret the quote as being only about looks.

 

I know several people whose sense of self seems to be increasingly external-driven. I dont know what the answer is.. but they are troubling examples of behavioral shift I attribute to social media and the device and information industries.

 

We live in an information age, and entire new categories of approved behavior have formed. Reality TV. People can earn a living being influencers on social media. Facebook & Instagram users whither if others aren't approving of their clothes/hair/baked goods/location/witticism/political commentaries.

 

People make a very common mistake; they interpret that attention as demand. They equate "likes" with wants. And so they continue with behaviors in pursuit of external approval, missing the point that attention is not the same as desire. We all slow down to watch a wreck on the highway. That doesn't mean we wanted to see a wreck.

And, so, if you remove the external approval, people feel bad about themselves. For those addicted to attention, it would make them feel bad to cease the behaviors that generate attention. They may also feel stifled if they can't disseminate the sights, experiences, or information they need to impart. Young people feel passive shame based on number of followers and online approval.

 

I don't know how to address the concern. While the methods and platforms are recent, self awareness and internally-sourced happiness are not new issues. Therapy for everyone seems ridiculous. And there's very little upside to telling others about perceived flaws.

 

I'm also aware that I'm middle-aged.... I've reached that age which, throughout human history, older people always express concern about new societal norms.

 

Except, I will note that Ive decreased my own dependence on external validation. I spent 2016 losing my mind on Facebook about the election. I blogged about the healthcare debate. And I occassionally checked in at restaurants and events, shared photos, etc. Early 2017, I stopped. In my case, it was a combination of factors that caused me to stop. Self-approval was, admittedly, not the primary reason I stopped. But I know I feel better for having stopped. Genuinely happier. With evidence I'm healthier.

 

....Now, if I could only refrain from lengthy explanations here on the Forum....

I wonder what conclusions will be drawn by 22nd Century anthropologists and social scientists who study early 21st Century social media.

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I don't think today's social media access has a lot to do with my ideas re: my appearance/desirability. Since I came out about 30 years ago, I've always been the last picked among my friends. I rarely hooked up at bars and have never been cruised in any other place that seems to happen to many men I know (gym, Kroger, pool, party, etc). I used to be jealous that my sex/romantic life was dull compared to the exuberant courses of my friends and peers, but it just became evident that folks are different. Some of us are beige. If everyone were exceptional looking, no one would be. It didn't affect me until I was in my late thirties and I started getting depressed when I'd hang out and remain alone. I stopped going to bars and focused more on visiting with friends and making new pastimes. That led to outright celibacy rather than a twice-a-year dalliance, but I am certainly more content. Sorry for meandering. I just meant to say that in person experiences taught me that I'm not of interest to most men outside friendship, not Grindr, etc.and I'm okay with my looks although they are far from my best feature.

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Although @Lance_Navarro posted that quote with a mirror photo, I dont interpret the quote as being only about looks.

 

I know several people whose sense of self seems to be increasingly external-driven. I dont know what the answer is.. but they are troubling examples of behavioral shift I attribute to social media and the device and information industries.

 

We live in an information age, and entire new categories of approved behavior have formed. Reality TV. People can earn a living being influencers on social media. Facebook & Instagram users whither if others aren't approving of their clothes/hair/baked goods/location/witticism/political commentaries.

 

People make a very common mistake; they interpret that attention as demand. They equate "likes" with wants. And so they continue with behaviors in pursuit of external approval, missing the point that attention is not the same as desire. We all slow down to watch a wreck on the highway. That doesn't mean we wanted to see a wreck.

And, so, if you remove the external approval, people feel bad about themselves. For those addicted to attention, it would make them feel bad to cease the behaviors that generate attention. They may also feel stifled if they can't disseminate the sights, experiences, or information they need to impart. Young people feel passive shame based on number of followers and online approval.

 

I don't know how to address the concern. While the methods and platforms are recent, self awareness and internally-sourced happiness are not new issues. Therapy for everyone seems ridiculous. And there's very little upside to telling others about perceived flaws.

 

I'm also aware that I'm middle-aged.... I've reached that age which, throughout human history, older people always express concern about new societal norms.

 

Except, I will note that Ive decreased my own dependence on external validation. I spent 2016 losing my mind on Facebook about the election. I blogged about the healthcare debate. And I occassionally checked in at restaurants and events, shared photos, etc. Early 2017, I stopped. In my case, it was a combination of factors that caused me to stop. Self-approval was, admittedly, not the primary reason I stopped. But I know I feel better for having stopped. Genuinely happier. With evidence I'm healthier.

 

....Now, if I could only refrain from lengthy explanations here on the Forum....

 

Thanks for the wonderful reply, and yes, I definetely was referring to more than just validation of our outward appearance.

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I definitely agree with you. I am most definitely average. I could really relate to your initial post about not ever being chosen and having all the pickups, tricks, and sexual romps my friends did. People just don't gravitate to me like that. Never have. Hell, most of the time I couldn't give it away.

Thank you for the compliment. I really meant that average is great and that men shouldn't beat themselves up if they find that they are average. Most folks are.
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Everyone has a different perspective on this though I can identify with most of the others' above to some extent.

 

Someone told me a long time ago that "You're not responsible for anyone's happiness other than your own." and that's withheld the test of time. If you expend your energy trying to conform to something someone else desires then you can never be happy with yourself... it's a losing proposition. That includes life-partners. A real partner will accept and love what @GregM calls your 'perfectly flawed' self as should each of us.

 

I keep an open mind to the observations and advice of trusted friends and colleagues... living without introspection is foolish... but I consider their words carefully rather than accepting them without scrutiny. An observant confidant can tell you things about yourself that you never would discover on your own. But when it comes to value judgements I rarely take much stock in them.

it's coming.

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