When people are not accustomed to receiving praise, they can become prime candidates to allow praise to fool them into “acting brand new.” Okay, a person can be excused for “acting brand new” for as long as two weeks, but any longer than that he or she starts to drift into a delusional state. Let’s admit it—we all love praise. Praise makes us all feel good and gives us assurance that we’re doing something right. There’s nothing wrong with embracing, receiving, and enjoying praise. However, don’t let praise change who you are. Don’t let praise fool you!
Now, just because a small group of people have told you that you do something well, and you have never received any larger praise from outside of this small group about what they claim you do well, then you certainly shouldn’t let what they say go to your head. You don’t become an expert or a star in a certain area just because a small group of people give you high praise. Sorry to tell you. The initial praise you receive for something should cause you to work passionately on ameliorating and progressing in this area. You should not think that a small amount of praise you get should ascend you to stardom.
Unfortunately, some people will take praise from a small group of people and become super arrogant and actually fool themselves that they are even greater than the praise they received. Stop for one moment. Think about the people who gave you the praise. Look at them. What are their qualifications to give you praise in the area they did? Are there any discernable motivations for granting the praise that is really not about the praise, but more about serving their own selfish interests? Before you go ahead and act like you are great in the area you received high praise in, you should at least wait until you have gained praise from a much large number of people. This piece is not trying to argue that you need to seek other people’s approval, but if you have truly mastered something, you will earn more praise than from a small group of people.
Some people will take praise from a small group of people and start living a lifestyle that they know is not true—they just know that the small group of people they hang around will continue to feed into this false lifestyle by continuing to validate them with praise.
When you know you have much more things to work on in the area that you are praised in, don’t let praise keep you from improving in this area. Just because you have never been the center of attention before, and you finally meet a small group of people who give you high praise, don’t think that this high praise you get represents truth. Praise is not always truth. Praise is often encouragement, encouragement for you to keep trying, improving, and progressing.
People with low self-esteem will hide behind the high praise of a small group of people and will never want to encounter a larger group of people to be examined by it. Some people know that the high praise that they are receiving from a small group of people is not true, but they still keep acting like it’s not true. Is this the type of praise you need to continue to endure life? Hope not. This type of praise can cause you to live a lie. Praise that is not grounded in truth will not benefit you in the end.
Praise is good when you know what to do with it. Although you may be receiving praise from a small group of people or even a large number of people, you need to link that praise to an internal truth. If you know that the praise people are giving you is not true, work on improving in this area. Don’t fake it until you make it. Faking it until you make it is living a lie–that’s not truly being yourself!
Using praise from a small group of people to create a false reality about yourself is not simply “acting brand new,” it means you are consumed with delusions—a psychological illness. Don’t rush praise into something that it’s not.
Some people will take praise from a small group of people and think they are better than everybody else. For those who intentionally do this, may God help you soon—you are simply delusional. Don’t let people and praise fool you. Know thyself. Be thyself .
Antonio Maurice Daniels
University of Wisconsin-Madison