Longing for Recognition
'When self-love depends upon externals,
on others' opinions of what you are and do,
the self is betrayed...'
As humans, we have an innate hunger to be noticed, attended to, reassured, and, occasionally, celebrated and admired... Yet we often have a very ambivalent relationship to these longings: we may deny or be ashamed of them, we may feel bitter that the recognition we hope for does not come, we may feel the 'beams of love' William Blake speaks of fall only on others.
From a developmental perspective, these hungers are natural and healthy. In order to thrive, especially as children, we do require significant amounts of attention, love and admiration from those around us. But experiencing these needs in adulthood is more complex: we may feel we should be independent from what others think of us, or we may notice that we hanker continually for recognition, admiration or attention - or secretly believe we are special or superior to others - or 'less' than them in some essential way.
The cost of our concern with recognition can be profound: we may betray our core values for the sake of others' approval, or find ourselves so concerned with praise that we cannot risk the failure involved in growth and learning.
This workshop offers an opportunity to look freshly and freely at these themes. It encourages us to explore what we feel we need or hope for in terms of recognition, drawing on the Self-Psychology of Heinz Kohut, who explored our developmental needs for mirroring, admiration, and affinity with others, and on the writing of AH Almaas, who has written extensively on the subject of narcissism. We will also look at the insights of Carol S Dweck in Mindset, clarifying the impact of our fear of failure and exploring the courage to be 'works in progress' rather than already impressive. The workshop aims to support us acknowledge our hopes for recognition, how they currently effect us, and what it might mean to relate to them more wisely.
Acknowledging the presence of these themes - and the feelings of vulnerability, hope, failure and pride we associate with them - can be deeply relieving. We can begin to develop a tenderness toward ourselves that neither inflates nor degrades us, but supports our intimacy with life. We move in the direction of seeing ourselves with love and ordinariness as 'one thing among many' (Milosz).