I get the importance of motivation and encouragement, affirmation and self-respect, but we can find affirmation in places and ways that don’t help us. We think they’re helping us, because they reassure us and make us more comfortable, but that is not always healthy, helpful, or truthful.
I downloaded a book of poetry because someone I appreciate and admire posted several snapshots of it after receiving it for Christmas. One of the first poems is called guiltless. I am all about not piling on guilt that we shouldn’t carry, but guilt is not the same as responsibility. There were several things throughout the poem that prompted me to nod in agreement, but there were others that prompted me to pause: Huh? Do I agree with that? Is that right?
For example, “you don’t have to feel guilty for finding happiness anymore. you are allowed to live in your truth without worrying about the ones you left behind.” Sure, I understand when and how this might apply. But the terms “live in your truth”?
What if “your truth” is not healthy? What if it is damaging to others? What about compassion and humility? And the ones you left behind? I mean, it’s possible your leaving actually helped them have a clearer view of who you are and what further damage you could have done to them, but is it really beneficial to encourage people not to care? Again, I can glimpse a few applications to this phrase, but I have stared at even more justifications through such phrases.
We can be better. It’s not about the content of this specific poem or book. It’s more about how we rationalize what we want to be okay in our lives. Rationalization, despite being the lazy approach, still takes effort—effort we could choose to expend in responsibility instead.
Let’s not be wooed by affirmation. Let’s intentionally seek the truth, and in that pursuit, we’ll find plenty of healthy affirmation to encourage us.