Remember when long TV infomercials became a thing?
I do… Maybe just showing my age…
I mostly remember the ShamWow! guy.
Sometimes I feel like I’m stuck in my own infomercial.
Trying to sell my life.
Hustling for approval.
Overstating the positive, understating the negative.
Social currency in exchange for living an extraordinary life.
It’s exhausting right?
It feels like culture is morphing us all into the dude from ShamWow!
I thought I’d be so more secure in myself as I got older, and in some ways I am, but it’s marginal at best.
Deep down I’m as strongly driven by the need for people to like me and notice me as I ever was.
Being noticed is not an unhealthy thing by the way…
We all have an appetite for love and approval, it’s normal.
Appetite isn’t the problem.
It’s how we manage our appetites that gets us into trouble.
I’ve observed… people who’ve had a ‘somewhat functional‘ upbringing seem to manage their appetite for love and approval better than those whose upbringing was ‘dysfunctional‘. Just my observation so don’t go quoting me.
Children who don’t have to hustle for love & worthiness from a young age because it was supplied freely from those around them, will be less likely to operate from feast or famine mode in the emotional arena.
Author Donald Miller says; “We’re designed to be noticed, but sometimes the people who were entrusted to notice us weren’t there.”
When we’re starving for love & approval, we’ll do almost anything to get it. We’ll accept substitutes, create false persona’s, and prostitute ourselves. (Not just sexually)
Ever seen a really nice young girl who’s shacked up with some deadbeat dick who treats her badly? But she stays with him because he tells her he loves her.
We’ll take what we can get when we’re starving.
Then there’s feast mode…
The spotlight points our way for a moment in time, and we perform. Boy do we put on a good show. We hope it never ends, even shouting at the lighting guy; “Keep that spotlight on ME!!!”
We gorge ourselves on the momentary dose of pleasure that the attention provides.
Everyone around us is aware of our ravenous appetite for attention, and repulsed at the same time.
But we don’t know, we’re too busy feasting.
Ever shown interest in someone who instantly became a stage 5 clinger?
Anyone thinking of Jarrod from the Bachelor right now?
We’ve all met someone new and got their entire CV in the first 3 minutes.
And we’ve probably all been that person too, in varying degrees. I know I
In her book, Rewired: A Bold New Approach To Addiction and Recovery, Erica Spiegelman talks about how many people who struggle with addictions have low levels of self esteem, which stems from living their lives in a dishonest way.
She says; “Lying of any kind lowers our self esteem. We are reinforcing our feelings of inadequacy every time we try to make ourselves look and sound just a little bit better than we think we are.”
“In today’s digital world, it’s easy to live an inauthentic life. It’s almost accepted as normal. People exaggerate who they are, in an effort to make it look as if their life is better than it is. Social media has brought lying to a whole new level.”
I think so many of us are unknowingly buying into a ShamWow! existence proliferated by social media.
It sux because we’re slowly becoming less and less connected to each other, even though technologically we’re more connected than ever before.
Social media is certainly here to stay too!
If Erica is right, then buying into life as an infomercial might be doing more emotional damage that we’re aware of?
ShamWow! Life = Low Self Esteem = Addictions
I do love hanging out with people who are great at deconstructing themselves and joining the dots between how their emotions and thoughts play out in their behaviours. People who are connected to themselves through self discovery and self awareness.
They inspire me.
Getting harder to find though…
At the end of the day, I can’t change the world, and I can’t change culture, but I can change myself.
As someone who’s struggled with addictions in one form or another for a big chunk of my life, the arrows of science are also pointing me towards living an authentic life for the sake of my emotional health, so that’s the direction I’m headed.
Win, lose or draw.
Hope to see you on the way.
Amusingly… ShamWow! was an incredible product. I must see if they’re still available.