I wasn't really going to blog about this until I realized I was mentioning it to friends in the context of being a small but real piece of positive reinforcement for accomplishing something. It's a simple-ish something -- taking a certain number of steps each day -- and the external validation I'm getting is from a tiny bit of electronics in a silicone band (I've named her Juliet to go with Crowley, my iPod), but it's a real enough thing that I experience all the good brain chemicals I get for being noticed for Doing a Good Thing.
That the thing doing the noticing is Juliet and the systems she connects to is immaterial. Who's got his Urban Boots and Marathon Badges? This guy.
I talk a good game about introversion, but external validation is still an incredibly powerful thing. I'm skittish about it in all kinds of ways, and I'm often reluctant to accept it properly -- thanks, life experiences! -- but I crave it. Most creative people do, I think. Not necessarily in the same ways, or to the same extent, but it's a real enough need.
Part of what I want right now in terms of rebuilding resilience is to feel less habituated to failure. I need successes. Some of those will need to be things I can feel good about on their own merits, but I also really love it when other people like those things. I want to do a thing I'm proud of then get the proverbial cookie from someone who is both relevant and trusted in that arena.
Those three conditions are really important. Being praised for things I don't have an emotional attachment is not unpleasant, but it doesn't do the thing. Being praised by someone I don't connect to the accomplishment, likewise. As for the trust...well, that's more of a tangle, and I'm working on it, but suffice to say that attention from wrong people at the wrong time does my process more harm than good.
(So, you know, if you're reading this, now is not the time to just dogpile me with effusive praise out of nowhere. I don't need the "You're Great!" thing my generation grew up with. Don't give me stickers for cleaning the bathroom. Wait for me to show you things, or comment on things that are already on display. If I start talking at you about a project, congratulations: you're trusted on that project. Whee.)
Which is why Juliet is my favorite right now. Juilet exists to collect raw data, and to praise me when I do the thing, and there's literally nothing else to concern myself with in that relationship. I walk until the fireworks go off, and it is the safest, sweetest thing in the world.