The Other I

April 6, 2015

Faux encouragement

Filed under: Just Stuff — theotheri @ 3:43 pm

In order to illustrate my brilliant insight, I must first confess to downloading a game of Klondike Solitaire, my preferred time-waster that had to be replaced after my recent computer crash.  I’ve been playing it on and off now for close to a month, and I find it so irritating I might have to give it up.

My irritation is that whenever I win a game, the screen shouts “Congratulations! You won!”

Fine.  But when I lose, the screen says “You have run out of moves.  Good Game!”

And that’s what I find so irritating.  It reminds me of an enabling teacher or parent who tries to build self-confidence in their child or student by praising them even when they fail.

That is not how mature self-confidence is built.

Because self-confidence doesn’t come from others’ opinions of our accomplishments.  It doesn’t even come from always succeeding.  It comes from confidence in our own ability to assess what we have done.  We need to be able to say “Yes, I did my best,” or “I did as well as I wanted to,” or “I didn’t get this right;  can I do it better?  Do I want to do better?  If so, how?”  At that point, we might ask for advice.  But that is quite different from encouragement based on false praise.

Yes, we need to know that we are loved.  That is not the same thing as needing indiscriminate praise.  We need to learn to be proud – or not – of ourselves.  What parents and teachers need to help children do is to evaluate themselves.  “What do you think about that work you just did?” is potentially a more helpful response than offering our own assessments as if our opinions were what really matter.

If we can’t judge our own accomplishments (or failures), we remain dependent psychologically.  We can’t stand on our own two feet.  And as human beings, we need to be able to stand up for what we believe in, for what we decide is important, even when it seems that everybody else disagrees with us.  We decide, for instance, that we have to be thinner, more beautiful, smarter, richer, more popular, more famous because that’s what everybody says.

But it’s not the recipe for happiness.

So was this a good post?  can I play another game of Solitaire now?



  1. Yes, false praise is very annoying. If some insight on performance is added, it makes it better.

    While on the subject, a ‘sidey’ question: did the rennaisance masters receive enough appreciation during their life-times?


    Comment by tskraghu — April 6, 2015 @ 4:25 pm | Reply

    • Interesting question – not one that has ever occurred to me. On the other hand, I have reached the conclusion that in the Great Scheme of Things, the judgements society makes about either the living or the dead is not worth a lot, even in terms of accuracy. So many great things have been contributed by people who are completely anonymous. And I dare say, I strongly suspect that many of those labelled among the Great and the Good would not survive too much scrutiny. Wouldn’t you agree?

      (On the other hand, I do appreciate that what people think of us as we travel through our days in life can make a huge difference on almost every level.)

      On Mon, Apr 6, 2015 at 5:25 PM, The Other I wrote:



      Comment by Terry Sissons — April 6, 2015 @ 8:08 pm | Reply

  2. Well, the blog was so-so – maybe you should skip 2 or 3 games of solitaire. 😄


    Comment by rayvoith — April 6, 2015 @ 5:22 pm | Reply

    • Ah ha! joisted by my own petard!

      On Mon, Apr 6, 2015 at 6:22 PM, The Other I wrote:



      Comment by Terry Sissons — April 6, 2015 @ 8:09 pm | Reply

  3. even your blog site asks for a star rating for your posting – so many tv shows now are based on winning by approval: dancing with the stars, singing with the stars, cooking with the stats == etc. you cannot get into schools w/o a rating, raises at work are based on ratings – president of google was on the morning news here – they have changed much in their company one of the things is that supervisors cannot rate an employee, cannot hire or fire, only thing they can do is give advice – which of course means that there still has to be a mechanism to do that – a group – an entire department – you are still rated. teaching children to measure themselves with their own standards/objectives is so helpful but truly does not protect oneself from the barrage of hoops one must jump in order to put bread on the table, get your children into a selected school, get into a la-de-da nightclub (if that is your thing1) get into heaven (if that exists) … so as far as your blog, what do YOU think! … and the right answer is???? or is there are right and wrong, which brings one to another issue.

    ps what is klondike solitare?


    Comment by kateritek — April 6, 2015 @ 7:31 pm | Reply

    • From what I can tell, Klondike solitare is exactly like the card game my grandmother taught me how to play with a deck of cards. Except that there is an “undo” button, and one can move cards from the top row back down into the playing columns, all of which makes what we would have called “cheating” in the old days a lot easier to win.

      On a more serious note, I did not mean to suggest in my blog that we do not need to know how our particular talents and abilities compare with our contemporaries’ output, because both we and society need to have some kind of way of choosing the best person for the job. It can’t just depend on what I personally want to do or what I think I am good at.

      But because external assessments pervade our lives from pre-school to the grave, I think our own evaluations of ourselves are even more important. Otherwise, we will simply spend our lives trying to please others. Pleasing others is, of course, often a pleasure. But not if it’s at the expense of being rooted in ourselves. (All of which I know you know.)

      In relation to my blog, I am determined to continue a fight not to try to be the most popular blog on the block. If I wrote in order to get more followers, for instance, I would lose my inner focus. I write now because I want to communicate something to whoever might understand or appreciate it or add further insight. But I don’t write in order to be more popular. I’m glad when people like a post or comment on it. Knowing that there is somebody out there like you giving me feedback is a completely different thing than wanting mass approval.

      PS: Do you think readers understand that my last question on this post was ironic?

      On Mon, Apr 6, 2015 at 8:31 PM, The Other I wrote:



      Comment by Terry Sissons — April 6, 2015 @ 8:22 pm | Reply

  4. Whether it is a computer programmed comment, religious or advertising propaganda only your own lifelong assessment should prevail. Another correspondent points out my weakness to rate articles – I shall rethink this habit !


    Comment by lairdglencairn — April 15, 2015 @ 6:06 am | Reply

    • Yes, I agree. We shouldn’t trade off our lifelong assessments for anything. And that does include religious and advertising propaganda. And we certainly shouldn’t let ourselves be bossed around by a computer!

      On Wed, Apr 15, 2015 at 7:06 AM, The Other I wrote:



      Comment by Terry Sissons — April 15, 2015 @ 7:49 pm | Reply

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