Everyone wants to be liked and loved. Everyone likes to hear praise from people they admire and respect. But there’s a big difference between wanting and enjoying the love and admiration of others and needing it to feel worthy. If you can only feel good about yourself when you have an incoming stream of affection and love and don’t feel happy or confident if that stream slows or stops, then you need to reflect on your sense of worthiness. The trick with developing self-worth is that, ideally, you won’t have a time when you don’t feel loved or that you’re not getting praise, so it can be hard to determine where your sense of worth is coming from. Adding to this opacity is the fact that love and admiration are good. In general, they do suggest that you are a valuable person, and they feel good to receive. So, understanding the foundations of your sense of worth can be challenging. The key is the difference between want and need—the difference between independence and dependence.
New people are easy. You meet them, you chat, you get to know each other—there’s no long-term baggage or expectations. There’s also no lingering bad blood or long-term irritants. It’s a fresh canvas and you’re both painting. But as time goes on, you develop a history. Much of that history is likely very good—you wouldn’t stay connected so long if it wasn’t. You may have periods where you don’t see each other that much, but when you do get back together it seems that no time has passed. You pick up right where you left off. You have a true and solid connection with each other, and it’s part of who you are. But there are also elements of the relationship that aren’t ideal. It may be a personality quirk that irritates you (and irritates you more over time). It may be a certain belief or opinion they have that doesn’t jibe with your worldview, and they have to bring it up. It may be some incident in your past that’s hard for you to let go. The relationship is not all wine and roses, but ultimately, no relationship is.
Self-loathing is so easy. Everyone has setbacks or makes mistakes, and many go through a period of being very hard on themselves afterward. After a mistake, you may be focused on the consequences or the sequence of events that led up to the mistake, but many people make beating themselves up a higher priority. Of all the options that you might consider after a mistake, beating yourself up is the least helpful. It’s important to be aware of when you’re doing this and replace it with other reactions. The first among these must be learning from the mistake, with forgiving yourself a close second. If you’re able to incorporate these reactions to mistakes into your life, there will be no room for self-loathing.
Social media is bad for society.
Oh, sure, it has resulted in some good outcomes. Families are able to keep in touch more easily and share pictures of their latest adventures. Old friends can reconnect and have a sort of correspondence, when otherwise they might not have. People are able to be creative and share their creations with the world. But people can also group into like-minded factions, feed on each other’s fears and paranoia, and only acknowledge the information that supports their own perspectives. Social media has supported and sustained the divisions that exist in our society. It has so much potential for good, but social media is like any other tool—it’s only as good as the people whose hands wield it.
Some people are larger than life. They seem to loom large over every interaction we have with them, not because they try to be dominating or because they are necessarily smarter or more talented than anyone else, but because they have a special presence. What is it about these people that makes them so special? They may have attractive attributes, such as intelligence or empathy, but (in my experience) they also may not. They may be successful in life, but they also may be living an “average” life—one that is not particularly accomplished or high profile. I call these people “large-souled,” meaning they have a significant presence in the universe. We may identify different people as being in this category depending on the way we interact with people. Maybe some people don’t recognize this category of people at all or mistake good looks, success, wealth, or charisma for a large soul. I’ve always felt drawn to the large-souled and have aspired to be one myself. Because the qualities of these people aren’t effable, this can be difficult.