“tipping the scale”

the rumination of being interpersonally dependent and becoming internally independent* be like:

The attentions of others might be said to matter to us principally because we are afflicted by a congenital uncertainty as to our own value – as a result of which what others think of us comes to play a determining role in how we are able to view ourselves. Our sense of identity is held captive by the judgements of those we live among. If they are amused by our jokes, we grow confident of our power to amuse. If they praise us, we develop an impression of high merit. And if they avoid our gaze as we enter a room or look impatient after we have revealed our occupation, we may fall into feelings of self-doubt and worthlessness.

We would, in an ideal world, be more impermeable. We would be unshaken whether we were ignored or noticed, praised or jeered at. If someone fallaciously complimented us, we would not be unduly seduced. And if we had carried out a fair appraisal of ourselves and decided upon our value, another person’s suggestion of our irrelevance would not wound us. We would know our worth. Instead, we appear to hold within ourselves a range of divergent views as to our characters. We have evidence of both cleverness and stupidity, humour and dullness, importance and superfluity. And in such wavering conditions, it typically falls to the attitude of society to settle the question of our significance. Neglect highlights our latent negative self-assessments, while a smile or compliment as rapidly brings out the converse. We seem beholden to the affections of others to endure ourselves.

Our ‘ego’, or self-conception could be pictured as a leaking balloon, forever requiring the helium of external love to remain inflated and vulnerable to the smallest pinpricks of neglect. There is something sobering and absurd in the extent to which we are cheered by attention and damage by disregard. Our mood may blacken because a colleague has greeted us absent-mindedly and our calls have been left unanswered. And we are capable of finding life worth living just because someone has remembered our name and sent us a fruit basket.

-State Anxiety (Alain de Botton)

* perhaps the state could also be being internally independent and becoming interpersonally dependent. i do believe in finding the balance of the two


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