The nobleman is entertaining. He shows off a painting he just completed. He demonstrates his archery skills to the children. He plays the lute, lifts weight, juggles and finally collapses in his armchair at the end of the day, exhausted.

''Once upon a time, there was a dissatisfied man, who was busy showing everyone how accomplished he was.''

The notion of dissatisfaction

Until they know better, people who have mainly been loved for what they do rather than for who they are seek love and satisfaction through accomplishments and a deep-felt wish for others’ approval.

Table of Content

During childhood, the recognition we all need has to come from our parents. When we are adults, it should come mainly from ourselves, from within. External recognition promotes good relations and boosts confidence but does nothing for our self-esteem and personal satisfaction.

The kind of recognition that contributes to our self-esteem comes from fulfilling our personal needs, not from achieving near impossible feats, which in fact only causes us to delay gratification (and thus cause more dissatisfaction and, ultimately, lower self-esteem).


Since before he was fully conscious, the nobleman in the illustration has been guided mainly by his parents’ approval – and disapproval. He has had to understand more than he really ought to, had to be quiet when he did not want to, had to eat properly when all he really wanted to do was play with his food, be nice to his siblings when teasing them was much more fun, be an early riser even though he really needed to sleep in and so forth.

In reward for his accomplishments and self-reduction he may have received a smile or a modicum of love and had his hair tousled. Unfortunately, the lessons he learned were counterproductive to building selfesteem and satisfaction (at this point, you may want to reread the chapters About needs and About objects of need).

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