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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Philosophy on Facebook # 32 - Approval

Hey guys hope you enjoyed the new column I wrote. Hopefully new ones will come with time. For now I got the idea for this post from my friend Kyle Gavan. Yesterday during Spanish we discussed about how people have a need for approval and why they seek it. Approval in this instance is defined as being anything that shows acceptance for who you are or what you've done. It may also be anything from a compliment to a simple acknowledgement of your existence and the consequences can range from a broad spectrum of possibilities.

We speculated that one of the reasons why people need approval is for support. Life can be a very difficult journey for some people and they might feel that they need some help along the way. As you know doing things on your own allows for a lot of freedom but also a lot of responsibility. There will inevitable be times where it appears you can't handle things on your own. Some people feel that when they need help they are inept on their own and have failed. While this might be an exaggerated case I do feel that similar things happen like this every day. This also applies to a kid and their parents. As kids grow up they to learn to become less dependent on their parents and the parents have to in turn ease them out by giving them positive reinforcement whenever they do something reasonably well. It is this support that motivates those kids to continue down the path to independency and success. Giving a good job, a compliment, or a pat on the back can go a long way especially if it's from someone they admire. Role models provide a concrete example for people to live up to expectations and goals. If that role model then provides positive feedback on their performance then that is great boost to that person's morale.

Another reason that could drive a person for approval is based upon social aspects. Social approval and being accepted for who you are is almost a necessity in today's world. If you are being complimented like "I like your new clothes" or something like that then it makes you feel like you made a good choice in style and therefore feel a sense of legitimacy in who you are. Social patterns also are based upon approval like being accepted into a group of friends. It feels great when you meet new people and they accept you for who you are or who you appear to be and then you become good friends with them. Family relationships also play a role in the approval system. If you guys are familiar with the show George Lopez, George always try to get the approval of his mom to no avail. Like with parents saying good job to almost any attempt to accomplish something made by their children, George's mom didn’t fall into that category. She constantly starved George of the attention and approval he desired as a kid and to this day she hasn’t given it to him.

Approval relates a lot to self worth and pride. Your ego is really intertwined with the approval you receive. If you get complimented for every action you take, then you will be more likely to think you are capable of more than you actually are and get a hot head over every future actions you take from that point forward. Your confidence in yourself gets raised substantially higher than it would be without approval and this is because your environment, like with many other topics, plays a role in the approval system. If you are in an area where you are completely innovative and doing never before seen projects, then you will get more approval for your creativity and uniqueness more than some person who is making the next installment in say a spinoff reality TV show. As you can probably tell, self esteem is a dependent variable of the amount of approval you receive. If you get negative feedback or absolutely no feedback at all, then your feeling of self worth decreases a lot. If my philosophy stuff got absolutely no positive feedback then I would start to question the legitimacy of this whole philosophy blog.

Another common factor in many other topics also affects approval. This factor is perspective and comes into play because what one person finds acceptable, another might not therefore affecting the possibility of approval in that situation. This is also evident in family relationships because what a parent finds acceptable, the child might not. When your dad wants you to follow in his footsteps and play football but you would much rather be an artist, this is an example of conflicting interests that could limit the approval you receive. Approval doesn’t necessarily need to be an outside force but they definitely affect what your internal approval system might be. If being an artist in your mind legitimizes you but it doesn’t in the eyes of your parents, then you might not get as much satisfaction pursuing a career in the arts. Much like with George's lack of approval from his mom, many kids today strive to get the approval of their parents. Some kids may be willing to give up their dreams of artistry to be a football player just to get the approval of their father. The fear of disappointment and the possibility of losing the approval of a loved one may be enough for one to give up their goals in order to receive acceptance by loved ones. Others are more resilient and will pursue their dreams over the dreams of others because the self approval is far more valuable to them compared to the approval of others. Fortunately, most people don't have to make this ultimatum because I am seeing an increasing number of parents who say something like "we'll be proud of you with whatever you decide to do."
I believe that one of the most applicable circumstances of the approval system is in the working world. In most jobs, one must gain the approval of their boss in order to excel and climb the corporate ladder. The reward of having a high approval rating could be a multitude of things ranging from bonuses to possible promotion. When it comes to bosses though, it becomes tougher to get the approval of others because you are at the top of the corporate ladder. In few circumstances is someone going to pat you on the back but that’s not to say it doesn’t happen. A boss must keep the approval of their investors of risk jeopardizing the future of their company. This can also relate to things like the presidency where if they don't have enough approval with the public then they most likely won't get elected.
As you can see, approval comes in all shapes and sizes and can be present in a wide range of circumstances. Sometimes we become oblivious to us when we gain the approval of others because it might come nonchalantly. Other times we might strive for it so feverously that it becomes our one goal in life to do something to become accepted by those around us. People trying to get famous have to stand out and present and image and style that will get them approved by a massive audience and propel them to stardom because this with get them the approval of the CEO's and big dogs of the industry to hire them. Regardless of the situation where it comes approval is a major part of who we are and limits or opens up opportunities for us to become more.

-Allan Nicholas

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