I woke up, re-read a short piece of Erich Fromm’s “Art of Loving” and had a sudden epiphany moment. I think it might be helpful for some other people, that’s why I’m telling. If so, please let me know, because see below:
The piece I read was about love we receive. In the part of the book that speaks about the theory of love, he starts off with the love we receive as babies, as new-born.
When we are just born, the first love we receive as children (stereotypically/ideally) is unconditional. We are accepted, loved, cared for because we are. All we are is good, we don’t have to prove we are worthy. There are no conditions to the love that our mother/parents give us. I believe, this is where our idea comes from that “you are perfect already”.
I hope this makes sense, because it’s essential.
As we grow up, the world requires certain things of us. We become more able and also grow/change, so our parents (for Fromm it would be the father) puts certain rules/conditions to his love. You are good, if you fulfill my expectations. Or else: “You are good and perfect as you are, but if you also learn not to shit in your pants, I’ll be so happy!” Not only do we receive love for the perfect being we are, but then also appreciation for the things we do.
I notice of myself that I tend to do a lot of big things to receive appreciation and love. And sometimes I really accomplish something big and receive lots of appreciation – and it feels completely empty.
I can’t receive it, I can’t care about it. Or sometimes (maybe more as a child) you would do something really cool and receive a half-hearted “yes, you are great” – while you really wanted to show the world that you did something good.
Why is it that we strive for appreciation so much, but we hardly ever get it the way we want it?
I believe now, it’s what I wrote up there. There is two different kinds of things I want to be loved and appreciated for.
For one, sometimes I need to be loved per sé. As I am. I need to receive “You are perfect, thanks simply for being”. These moments when I need a hug. That is when I feel, I am lacking this sense of wholeness, perfectness that I know I should sense.
The other one is doing a “thing” for somebody. Cleaning up the house for your roommate, making a piece of art, preparing dinner for your partner. You try to do it as perfect as possible, because you really want to make sure that it is a “thing” he or she can really appreciate and tell you, you did something good.
This one is a very tricky one. Most of my examples would often be used not to receive appreciation for my great skills, but for being a good person, for being good and perfect.
I do it a lot, and I think I see other people doing it as well; Do something for somebody in order to receive appreciation for me, for my “being good”. The other one receives a deed I did for him and appreciatest the deed, but not necessarily me as a person. Rarely does this really give me what I am trying to get.
And it’s quite hard for the other one to know what you want from them. If you give them a thing, how can they know that you really want to be told that you are a beautiful being?
I am afraid, this might still be not as clear as I want it to be.
Take this blog:
Some days ago I wrote a long piece about my process, my feelings, my pains. Very personal and important stuff.
I felt a lot of relief after writing and even posting it. And I received a lot of feedback from people around me. I appreciated all of them… yet, there was something missing. What I received was appreciation for what I did. And this gave me something of course. But what I felt, I shared was who I am. I was missing the appreciation for who I am.
With this blogpost here, I am sharing something that I did. I made a thought, I structured it and put it in words to share it with you. If it’s interesting for you, I’d be happy if you appreciated what I did. Not who I am this time :)
My hope is that it would be possible for me at least to clearly distinguish and know when I strive “being perfect, being whole” and when I strive appreciation for a cool thing I did. It might be that actually one of them is called love and one is appreciation, but I’m not sure.
Next level would be to let the world know. “I have made this great dinner for us, but I really want to say that I feel unloved. Can you tell me that I am good as I am?”