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What If No One Is Watching? February 11, 2015

Posted by nrhatch in Happiness, Life Balance, Mindfulness.

alice26thEgo likes accolades and acknowledgement for accomplishments, big and small.

For Ego, it’s not enough To Do or To Be for the Do-ness or Be-ness of it all.  Ego is convinced it doesn’t count if no one is watching.

Ego is in a perpetual state of “Look At Me!”

Hence the rise of Selfie Sticks.

It’s not the journey of writing, painting, singing, dancing, creating, or exploring that matters to Ego, it’s the applause of the audience, the roar of the crowd, the recognition from others that we matter.

A legacy left behind.

If I slam a door, and no one hears, should I slam it louder?

Hmm . . . that depends.  
Am I slamming it for me . . . or for them?

Remember George Costanza and the Tip Jar?  He didn’t toss a tip into the jar because he wanted the self-acknowledgment of having done so.  He wanted “them” to see him toss the tip into the jar.  He wanted recognition from others for his actions.  He wasn’t giving to give, he was giving to get.

When he realized “they” weren’t watching, he reached in to reclaim the tip for a “do over” and lost what he was trying to gain . . . his paisano’s approval.

Donald-Duck-BaseballWhat would you do if no one was watching?

Would you spend decades building the cathedral, the bridge, or the concert center if you retained your anonymity?

Living in the shadows in a state of obscurity?

With no one applauding your efforts?

You know you’ve found your bliss and are headed the right way when your spirit is soaring and work feels like play.

Even when no one is watching.

Aah . . . that’s better!

After enlightenment, the laundry. ~ Zen Proverb



1. Hariod Brawn - February 11, 2015

Of course, it is always possible to get a little precious about our humility, our demure interiority, our unknown and unseen sacrifices, our ‘spiritual’ self-effacement, our moral rectitude, and so forth. Egocentricity can have a fine time all on its own too it would seem.

nrhatch - February 11, 2015

Of course.

In reality there is perhaps not one of our natural passions so hard to subdue as pride. For even if I could conceive that I had completely overcome it, I should probably be proud of my humility. ~ Benjamin Franklin

Hariod Brawn - February 11, 2015

“I always said the only thing standing between me and greatness was me”

– Woody Allen

nrhatch - February 11, 2015

Aah, Woody, a true master in the art of fishing for compliments using self-deprecation and false humility as bait. :mrgreen:

2. Pix Under the Oaks - February 11, 2015

I like to fly under the radar. Mostly. But my blogging, posting to Instagram, FB, all the social media seems to conflict with my statement 😀

nrhatch - February 11, 2015

We are, most of us, an exercise in contrast and contradiction! :mrgreen:

3. Jill Weatherholt - February 11, 2015

Unlike George, I prefer to lay low. I’m very uncomfortable being the center of attention.

nrhatch - February 11, 2015

I bet you were NOT the first one on your block to spend your allowance on a selfie-stick! 😛

I see they’ve been outlawed in certain parts of the world.

Jill Weatherholt - February 11, 2015

This is the first I’ve heard of a selfie-stick. 🙂 Thanks for the education, Nancy.

nrhatch - February 11, 2015

Selfie sticks allow people to go to new lengths in their efforts to Be Seen!

Look at me! Look at me! Look at me!

4. anotherday2paradise - February 11, 2015

We all need the encouragement of our peers. If no-one acknowledged our achievements, we’d all become very disheartened. I think the tip box scenario is something quite different. Acts of kindness and generosity should come naturally, and are not something to brag about.

nrhatch - February 11, 2015

I don’t see the tip box scenario as all that different ~> George wanted to foster a sense of connection (via acknowledgment, approval, and encouragement) from his paisano. His desire back-fired. George doesn’t want to BE kind and generous, he wants to BE SEEN as kind and generous.

5. Val Boyko - February 11, 2015

Validation and recognition are basic human needs … Yet the ego can get hooked in to wanting more and more in order to feed it. Its such a complex part of each of us. I wonder what Hariod will say 😉

nrhatch - February 11, 2015

I expect that most people are in that boat with Ben. But, as they do not want to APPEAR proud, they tell people they’re “humbled” (even when they are anything but). :mrgreen:

6. ericjbaker - February 11, 2015

Hahaha. I remember when I was about 11 or so trying to get the attention of some neighborhood girls by intentionally crashing my bike into the driveway while they were playing outside. I must have crashed it 4 or 5 times expected them to run over and see if I was all right (which would have been my “in” in my mind). They never even looked up. Ah well, at least I found out that my bike and my body were pretty durable.

nrhatch - February 11, 2015

That’s hysterical, Eric! The PERFECT example of how Ego puts its incessant need for recognition and acknowledgment ahead of our physical and mental well-being ~ it would rather see us DEAD than IGNORED! 😛

Glad you survived to bike another day.

ericjbaker - February 11, 2015

I couldn’t kill that thing. It weighed about 40 pounds I think.

nrhatch - February 11, 2015

Amazing how much our “toys” used to weigh. I had a cell phone once that came with a 20 pound battery! 😛

7. Arlee Bird - February 11, 2015

If no one was watching there would probably be a lot less silly acts as well as less good actions performed. The world would undoubtedly fall into chaos with crime rampant if no one was paying attention to the evil going one.

We all want to have some kind of recognition for our accomplishments even if nothing more than a paycheck. But an award, a word of praise, or a pat on the back feels mighty nice too.

It’s kind of like blogging. Would we keep doing it if we never got a single comment or somehow knew at least we were getting some kind of hits on the site? We can entertain ourselves for only so long before things get a little weird when we create our own imaginary fans and friends.

Arlee Bird
A to Z Challenge Co-host
Tossing It Out

nrhatch - February 11, 2015

When I create a delicious meal, the act of creation and the joy of consumption are my reward . . . even if no one is watching.

When I write, sculpt, and paint, I derive enjoyment from working with words, sculpting clay, and playing with my palette without an audience. The same is true when I play the guitar and sing behind closed doors.

Later, if I choose to share the food, dishes, thoughts, songs, and images I’ve created, I can do so out of a desire to GIVE something to others without being motivated by the desire to scoop up applause.

When someone enjoys what I’ve chosen to share, that pleases me because I’ve GIVEN a gift with value to them (even if they don’t applaud my efforts, pat me on the back, or hand me an award).

It would be interesting to see what would happen on the world stage if we stopped feeding Ego and started feeding Spirit.

8. Judson - February 11, 2015

Sometimes a lack of self esteem may be mistakenly seen as an inflated ego.

Perhaps being rewarded with applause can build needed self esteem without excessively stroking the ego.

Just thinking out loud …

nrhatch - February 11, 2015

One reason that people have so little self-esteem is because they are taught to use an EXTERNAL barometer ~ to look outside themselves for validation, applause, and approval.

Once we stop looking around to see what “they” think of us, we tap into our internal compass and life is smooth sailing.

Val Boyko - February 11, 2015

love this Nancy!

nrhatch - February 11, 2015

Thanks, Val. I find using an internal barometer makes navigating through life MUCH easier.

If people appreciate our efforts, great! If not, that’s OK too . . . because we’re doing what we want to do. And that is often all the reward we need.

9. William D'Andrea - February 11, 2015

I have three books available for purchase on amazon.com, but less than a half dozen copies have been purchased! When I was writing and posting them on webook.com, they received a tremendous number of positive feedbacks; from other website members, who read them for free. Now with the cost $2.99 a copy, that never happens.

I suppose that might be called a humbling experience; but knowing that they’ve received all those positive responses, does contain some satisfaction.

nrhatch - February 11, 2015

Writing can be humbling indeed.

10. NancyTex - February 11, 2015

Bahahaha! I remember that episode!
Almost the same thing happened again in the episode with “big salad”. Someone asked that George and Elaine bring back a big salad from lunch. George paid for it, but Elaine happened to be the one holding it, and hence delivering it to the recipient. The recipient thanks Elaine (who says, “you’re welcome!”), leaving George nearly apoplectic. 🙂 He HAD to have the person know that HE was the one who paid for the salad. 🙂

nrhatch - February 11, 2015

Yes! Another perfect example. He needed them to KNOW!

11. thecontentedcrafter - February 11, 2015

What on earth is a selfie stick?

nrhatch - February 11, 2015

Just click on those words in the post and all will be revealed! :mrgreen:

If the link doesn’t work for you:

A selfie stick is a monopod used to take selfie photographs by positioning a smartphone or camera beyond the normal range of the arm.[1] The metal sticks are typically extensible, with a handle on one end and an adjustable clamp on the other end to hold a phone in place.[2] Some have remote or Bluetooth controls, letting the user decide when to take the picture,[2] and models designed for cameras have a mirror behind the viewscreen so that the shot can be lined up.[3][4]

thecontentedcrafter - February 11, 2015

Thank you! And ‘Oh, dear!’ Ha-ha!! 😀

nrhatch - February 11, 2015

“Oh, dear!” is right! :mrgreen:

12. suzicate - February 11, 2015

Loved seeing the clip of George…cracked me up!
I still don’t get selfie sticks…or people who constantly take selfies. The other day I noticed an acquaintance posted a selfie of herself and her young daughter (which she does quite often, like usually more than once a day). I’d say the child is five or six, and what got me is how she had the child pose like her with the same pouty lips, slung back head expression. Now, my question is what exactly is she teaching her daughter in doing this?

nrhatch - February 11, 2015

Exactly! She is teaching her daughter that “it” (whatever “it” is) doesn’t count unless someone is watching.

I have an acquaintance who does much the same . . . constant updates about WHERE she is and WHAT she is doing, which (of course) says a lot about WHO she is ~ a silly rabbit. 😛

Glad you enjoyed George feeding his ego by feeding the tip jar!

13. Kate @ Did That Just Happen? - February 11, 2015

I’m totally working on that Ego right now – I have discovered that my boss is pretty clueless about all of the behind the scenes work I do, and we had a conversation the other day that, I’m not kidding, I hung up the phone and said “well, if he doesn’t think I’m doing anything to help him out, I just won’t.”
It took me some time and many, many prayers before I was able to see that it isn’t an all or nothing situation, and that I don’t really need the acknowledgement, as I really and truly love what I do! I really was having an Ego issue, and while I haven’t found resolution, the fact that I know I’m struggling with my own Ego has helped me with the process!
So, that’s a lot of info, but I loved this post and wanted to share how it touched me and I was applying it to my life! 🙂

nrhatch - February 11, 2015

In your defense, when we are getting PAID to DO STUFF, we need to make sure that someone (the person issuing the paycheck) knows that we are DOING it.

But I know what you mean about Ego throwing a hissy fit when it doesn’t feel it’s being acknowledged/appreciated at the right level. It moves into, “well, I’ll show them” mode. :mrgreen:

14. sufilight - February 11, 2015

In many areas I am not interested in being ‘visible’, but in others my ego likes the recognition. hehe. 🙂

nrhatch - February 11, 2015

I know just what you mean, Marie. Sometimes being invisible is just the thing . . . other times we want to be acknowledged for our efforts. To balance!

15. Behind the Story - February 11, 2015

Virtue is such a slippery concept. If we try too hard, we’re in danger of being overly proud. The best definition of humility I’ve heard is that humility is truth … to know the truth of yourself and to present that truth accurately to the world. We do the best we can.

nrhatch - February 11, 2015

Good point, Nicki. Some of my favorite quotes revolve around recognizing the truth of who we are:

Know thyself. ~ Oracle of Apollo at Delphi, Greece

When we understand who we really are, we free ourselves from the illusions that hold us back.

Turn the spotlight inward. ~ Gandhi

Trust yourself and you will know how to live. ~ Goethe

People are unhappy because they aren’t being truthful with themselves. Being truthful with yourself plugs you into your inner power. ~ Suze Orman

When you stop hiding who you are, you have more energy to become more fully who you want to be.

Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony. ~ Mahatma Gandhi

To thine own self be true. ~ Shakespeare

Behind the Story - February 11, 2015

Wow! Some excellent quotes.

nrhatch - February 11, 2015

I’m a great fan of quotes (like these) that distill teachings into bite-size nuggets that we can carry about in our pockets. 😀

16. jannatwrites - February 11, 2015

When seeking approval of others, it kind of sucks the joy out of life. Even if we succeed (by their standards) we’re still left empty. I admire those who do great things and insist on remaining anonymous. To me, that says the reasons are more intrinsic than for approval of the masses.

nrhatch - February 12, 2015

Using an external yardstick to measure our worth to the world is fraught with peril:

(1) If applause comes, we feel GREAT! But when it dies down, we need another fix. We’re always on the look-out for the next “shot in the arm.”

(2) People are often insincere in their praise (or criticism) based on factors other than our objective output ~ they may be disingenuous (and LIE to our faces!) for self-serving reasons (including their own ego fix).

(3) If we are told something we’ve done is fantastic (when we know it resulted from a half-hearted effort), we may feel conflicted by the praise ~ wanting to accept and reject it at the same time.

(4) We are being measured by numerous yardsticks. On some, we’ll measure up. On others, we won’t. It’s like trying to walk on quicksand when the terrain is always shifting.

When we set our own standards, the anxiety caused by working for applause diminishes. We are FREE of the need to impress others with our efforts. Aah . . . that’s better!

I’m hoping you’re coping with life’s lemons, Janna . . . and that they start to land sunny side up.

17. Tiny - February 12, 2015

You know what I think of selfie sticks 🙂 Loved the quotes and the lively discussion here. Too tired this late (or early, the next day) to come up with any intelligent remarks that would give my ego a night cap 😉

nrhatch - February 12, 2015

If you rethought your stance on selfie sticks, you could teach PO and MO to take shots of their eggs and babies! 😛 Of course, then you’d lose that lovely opportunity to wander the marsh.

I felt that way last night when I saw that Val had re-blogged someone’s post on our demanding companion, Mr. Ego. Just too tired to muster up the muse.

Tiny - February 12, 2015

A hilarious thought, selfies of the osprey family! A zoo elephant who found a smart phone apparently took “an elfie”, but I wouldn’t encourage that practice. The Mr. Ego post was excellent.

nrhatch - February 12, 2015

Ego does have the propensity to act as an impediment to our feelings of peace, happiness, and contentment since it is swayed by the slightest breeze.

18. uju - February 12, 2015

Rings close to home, Nancy. I know I don’t have a problem being in obscurity, shying away from too much attention; but I also know that my ego purrs when someone acknowledges something I’ve done.

I just found a related post on contradictions so I’m off to read it.

nrhatch - February 12, 2015

Ego may encourage us to shy away from situations in which it doesn’t feel we will SHINE.

Ego’s fear of failure may prevent us from exploring new avenues, possibilities, and pastimes. It prefers that we stick with what we do best . . . which is so “been there, done that.”

If we enjoy the applause when it comes without feeling bereft when it fades away (or is M.I.A.), we’re on our way!

19. L. Marie - February 12, 2015

This post is so convicting to me, Nancy. I’ve done the George Constanza tip thing unfortunately. And I’ve been tempted to stop blogging when my readership went down. That’s all ego too. So, thank you for the reminder that defeating one’s ego is a constant battle.

nrhatch - February 12, 2015

It really is! I know how much happier I am when I tune out Ego’s incessant demands and desires. Despite this knowledge, Ego continues to wander through life as my (almost) constant companion. Ego is a tricky rabbit!

L. Marie - February 13, 2015

It certainly is! It’s like the white rabbit in Alice in Wonderland–constantly darting off.

nrhatch - February 13, 2015

Yes! It’s easily distracted by shiny objects!

20. Valleygrail - February 12, 2015

I am a balcony person. I love applauding the accomplishments of others, but really dislike the spotlight on me. So, here’s to this great post: Clap, clap, clap!! Good job!

nrhatch - February 12, 2015

Bwahaha! Yay for ME! :mrgreen:

21. beeblu - February 14, 2015

I write my poetry, first and foremost, for me. If others enjoy it, that’s really heartening, because it’s wonderful to have that connection. But if nobody’s watching, that doesn’t stop me. It’s an outlet.

nrhatch - February 14, 2015

That’s how I feel, BB. My enjoyment flows from the act of writing, in and of itself. When my words resonate with others, it’s an added delight, but not my primary purpose for writing.

22. Kathy @ SMART Living 365.com - February 16, 2015

Hi Nancy! This is VERY true. One of my favorite quotes from (I can’t remember who) is, “You can get a lot done if this world if you don’t care who gets the credit.” It reminds me over and over that when we do things for the sheer joy of contribution and expressing our soul then that is really all we need. Thanks for the reminder this Monday morning! ~Kathy

nrhatch - February 16, 2015

Great quote, Kathy. Maybe the author doesn’t care who gets credit for it! :mrgreen:

Who we are often gets tangled up in the expectations of others. Extricating ourselves is not easy, but it’s worth it. After all, our freedom is at stake.

23. Three Well Beings - February 17, 2015

I admit that every now and then ego turns around and bites me! But not too often anymore. I never needed a lot of external validation, but I did seem to almost desperately feel the “need” to be understood, far too long into adulthood. After a few decades of realizing that this was taking my valuable energy, thought, and satisfaction, I started really working on that. I can usually see when ego is trying to invade my peace and do a quick attitude adjustment. Much easier way to go! 🙂

nrhatch - February 17, 2015

Yes! Once we become mindful of Ego’s tricky maneuvers, it’s fairly easy to outsmart it, as long as we’re paying attention. When I’m happy, I don’t worry about the “why,” but if something is bugging “me” I look to see if Ego is behind the negativity.

And I know what you mean about wanting to be understood ~ I wasted a lot of time explaining myself to others in my “youth.”

Finally I decided that NO ONE but me could really understand me because no one else had experienced life from the same perspective as me. Very liberating!

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