Conversations For Transformation: Essays Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

Conversations For Transformation

Essays By Laurence Platt

Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

And More


Wired To Be Admired

Cowboy Cottage, East Napa, California, USA

November 18, 2013



"We human beings, we're kind of wired to be admired. We want to look good. We want people to think well of us. And so we try to be authentic. We try to be real with each other because one of the things that everybody knows is admired by others, is if you're authentic - if you're kind of a phony, you know nobody's going to admire you. So we want to be authentic. The beginning of all authenticity is to be authentic about your inauthenticity. And that's how you start to get an honest view of yourself."
 ...   on authenticity 
This essay, Wired To Be Admired, is the companion piece to What Happened As Distinct From The Story About What Happened.

It is also the ninth in a group of twelve on Parents:


We have a certain fixed point of view, a belief system, a widely held interpretation forming an unexamined opinion then taken as fact, that our need for attention, our need to be loved (perhaps more generally and more inclusively and more maturely  expressed as our need to be admired)  is a result of being unloved as a child.

It's classic Psychology 101. We all know people with a story about being unloved as a child, or about being unloved as a child some of the time  or on a particular noteworthy occasion. If we're honest about it, you and I are included in this very, very large group of people. Everyone  has a story like this, yes?

There are three quarrels I have with this particular story. No I don't deny the originating incident  happened (that is to say, I don't deny whatever happened which we say proves we were unloved, happened). Instead I question the way we hold our story of what happened. I suggest it's the way we hold our story of what happened and not what actually happened in the originating incident, which results in our feeling unloved.

The first quarrel I have with this particular story is this: for a child, it's often impossible to see and appreciate the bigger picture framing a particular set of circumstances. For example, some of my school mates were sent away from home to boarding school. I myself was a day scholar. But many of the other pupils at my school were boarders. It's an easy conclusion for a child to come to: "My parents don't love me, so they sent me away to boarding school.".

Children may not get and / or appreciate the bigger picture even if they're told about it. Some of my school mates' parents served in the diplomatic corps. Some served in the armed forces. Both of these jobs / lifestyles involved continuous travel, an environment not ideally suited for raising young children. What may have looked to a child like being unloved by their parents, was actually an expression of great  love by their parents providing the very best they knew to provide for their child. The story, then, is simply an interpretation: it's neither fact nor true, yet it's held as fact and true.

The second quarrel I have with this particular story is this: who gave you the job of critiquing your parents' performance in any case?  (that's all I have to say on that one).

The third quarrel I have with this particular story is something I get from being around Werner and taking the time to consider what he reveals, without blindly accepting everything he says as the truth  (blindly accepting anything he says as the truth  is one surefire way of ruining everything he says). The value in considering what Werner says, doesn't come from blindly accepting it's the truth. The value in considering what Werner says is whether or not, when I try it on for size, new space opens up, and presence of Self  and new power and possibility become available. Then it has value. Otherwise it doesn't.

This is what I get: consider the possibility we don't have the feeling of being unloved and / or wanting to be admired, because of something which happened when we were a child. It's way simpler  than that. It's we want to be admired because it's built into the machinery  - or as Werner says "We're wired to be admired.". This observation and its stunning implication is so simple that we resist it. We say "That's impossible!  That can't be it. It's too simple.". But I assert yes, that's how we are as human beings: we're wired to be admired, and what happened in the past has absolutely nothing to do with it. It's more than that actually. It's going down the path of trying to figure out the reason why  we feel unloved and want to be admired, by telling and re‑telling and analyzing and re-analyzing the story of what happened all those years ago is a colossal waste of time. It's simple: we're wired to be admired. That's it. That's all. End of story.

Once you consider the possibility we're wired to be admired and that it's built into the machinery and that's all it is, all the struggle and effort to explain, understand, and fix the feeling of being unloved and wanting to be admired, evaporates. Once you consider the possibility we're wired to be admired and that's all it is, all the drama and the histrionics of the story of why we want to be admired, fall away and lose their grip. They disappear. Mostly, once we consider the possibility we're wired to be admired and that's all it is, we can choose to give up the story about being unloved as a child.

Then an extraordinary thing happens: choosing to give up the story about being unloved as a child allows for the possibility of fully appreciating our parents and what they made possible for us. So, what if you say your parents made nothing  possible for you? Well ... that's not true. For starters, they obviously made Life  possible for you, yes? Listen: Life is enough for transformation - even if you're an orphan.

By the way: in Life, people who are admired most (look and see for yourself if it's true) are people who are authentic. But that's a subject for another conversation on another occasion.



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