Watching the Olympics, I found myself wondering whether the competitors would work so hard, becoming expert at what they do, if there were no one around to acknowledge their achievement. (Many no doubt would.) And what about me—would I have spent time and effort writing a book and these weekly messages if no one were around to read them? I wrote Brain Drain as a means of self-exploration, self-therapy, and as a service to my readers to help them in the same ways (same goes for these weekly messages). But I would not be honest if I were to say those are the only purposes. When I get positive feedback, positive reviews, and awards for my writing, it feels good, really good. The fact is, no matter how selflessly we view ourselves, we want people to notice our achievements.

Is this desire to be noticed something cooked up by the automatic brain (AB)? After all, your AB needs to know, for your “protection,” who judges you negatively. It follows that, to the AB, those who judge us favorably are less threatening to our safety. (Does that seem silly? Perhaps. But the AB’s instinctive machinations are, however primitive, real.) As surprising as it may sound, I, Dr. Glassman, author of a book about how to escape the grips of the AB, am still subject to its relentless intrusions.

How does an Olympic bobsledder feel after years of training, only to fall out of medal contention by 1/1000th of a second? Or a skater who’s prepared for years, night and day, only to fall on the ice—unable to deal with the overwhelming pressure of the competition? What about the hundreds of other world-class athletes who have put in that kind of preparation and effort, dedicating their lives to their sport, but who don’t make it to the Olympics? Do they consider themselves failures?

What we must ask ourselves whenever we face a situation in which we might be judged is this: Can we feel good about our effort and preparation no matter how it all turns out? In other words, do we truly believe in ourselves, our passion, our message, and our ability—enough to make the judgment of others less important than our own self-assessment?

These questions apply not just to high-profile venues like the Olympics. Suppose you’re getting ready to go to a party or out to dinner, a movie, or the mall. Like most people, you probably care about how you’ll be perceived by others. That’s bound to affect the effort you put into your preparation. Maybe you take pains to make sure every hair is in place, or that there are no wrinkles in your clothes. Whenever you pass a mirror, you make sure that what you’re wearing doesn’t make your face look fat or your backside too plump.

It may surprise you to hear that I consider the desire for the favorable esteem of others to be a good thing, because it reinforces your place amongst the human community. But needing the validation of others to feel good about yourself or your endeavors feeds into the AB. Excessive preoccupation with the opinions of others keeps you from seeing your strengths and talents—things your mind is fully aware of and accepts unconditionally. Letting others define who you are and constantly playing to them feeds the insatiable appetite of the AB. And rest assured that the AB will make sure you’re never safe and protected no matter how much positive input you get.

The acceptance of others we all seek is actually more likely the less we need it and the more we want it. As I wrote in my book, when I walk down the aisle of a crowded movie theatre, instead of worrying about whether my shirt is tucked in or my hair is in place or my zipper is down or that I am going to drop the popcorn, I repeat these affirmations to myself: “I am strong, I am tall, I am handsome, I am happy.” I know these words improve my appearance to others, because they reinforce my belief in myself.

If I were to let my AB run the show, it would try to get me to flee the “danger” of exposing myself to the masses (melodramatic, maybe, but that’s the AB for you). When I walk into a crowded room (a sure-fire trigger of my AB), I repeat in my mind, “I love myself, I love myself.” This defuses the need to be accepted by others, for I always have myself. It does not eliminate my desire to be accepted; instead, it actually increases the odds I will be, because I don’t come across as desperate.

Whether you are an Olympic athlete, aspiring author, or just someone who goes out in public, the distinction between wanting favorable esteem and needing it can help you enjoy success in whatever you tackle. In previous messages, I have shared with you the ups and downs that led me to finally produce Brain Drain through my own efforts. I discussed this because I knew that because I have an AB and a mind like everyone else, my voyage to self-discovery could help others just as it has helped me. When I meditate, I connect with my mind—my inner guidance—and the message I get is, “Just keep doing what you are doing.” Whether people buy my book or not, whether they read my weekly messages or not (although I want to share them with as many people as possible), I don’t need all that, because I believe in my work and my message. I know that belief will be recognized by those from whom I want acceptance. And the same goes for you and the Olympic athletes.

So next time you decide to write a book or go somewhere in your best suit or train for the Olympics, avoid falling into the trap of neediness. Write with passion, go out in public with confidence, train with belief in yourself, and the acceptance and success you want will manifest themselves in a way that is just right for you.

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Glassman began distributing a weekly motivational email message to patients and friends in January 2007. By May 2008, his distribution list had grown so much—as people on the list told others about it—
and interest in his messages had become so high—Dr. Glassman decided to turn his philosophy and advice into a book. That’s how Brain Drain came about. Starting in May 2008, his weekly messages—now distributed to an even larger audience—formed the basis for chapters of this book.
To date, Brain Drain has won in the Spiritual category at the 2009 Los Angeles Book Festival and received honorable mention at the 2009 New England Book Festival.

Through his book, private practice, public appearances, continued weekly messages,and Coach MD (medical coaching practice) Dr. Glassman has helped thousands realize a healthier, successful, and more abundant life.

He lives in Rockland County, NY with his wife Melanie and their four children (and dog, Ginger).;