By Devin Storch

Affirmation. Something each human needs, something each person strives for, something that unites us all.

Our search for affirmation, or “emotional support or encouragement”, as Miriam Webster tells us, is a key factor in the growth and development of our bodies, personalities, friend groups, and ultimately where we go in our lives. Politics and media give us an idea of the great power this concept holds, and the potential danger if misused. This danger surpasses what we believe to be the effects of encouragement. This danger is the ability of encouragement to drastically effect the behavior of another person.

Picture this: a woman in your office walks in with a new hair cut. Her friend says to her, “Wow! You look amazing!”. Jokingly, she refuses the compliment, replying, “Oh, so are you telling me that I didn’t look amazing before?" The implication being that your praise of her new haircut indicated a flaw in anything prior.

Now of course, this example is provided in a circumstance seen as obvious joking, but the real danger reveals itself in the youngest, most vulnerable stage of our life: our childhood. Now, each of us can remember a moment in our childhood when we were scolded for a wrongdoing or encouraged for a victory, so this practice of affirmation is hardly new to any of us. But here comes the downside. When one at such a young or naïve stage hears words affirming one action or some behavior, that subconsciously denounces behavior prior to the encouragement.

Say a mother tells his son, “Oh my strong boy, not crying when you were hurt. You’re such a little man!" Those words automatically trigger the child to believe that if he does not uphold himself to this keeping in of his tears or emotions, that he is instantly demoted to no longer being “manly”. This is dangerous in the development of children for strongly apparent reasons.

Some of the best songs written are about loss or heartache, all because that artist decided upon letting his or her emotions be expressed through that medium. Picasso’s blue period, signified a deeper inward depression. A more personal example, feeling upset and engulfing a bowl of ice cream. To each his own, but even so, through these examples we see emotion by means of expression.

Phrases like “men don’t cry” or “be a man” teach children that the opposite behavior is not of the same nature, and in fact, yields the opposite result. This is not a singular occurrence. This very same concept presents itself in many different forms, another of these forms being: A girl in school comes in wearing makeup for the first time. She looks beautiful, foundation, mascara; the whole shabang. Unfortunately, the drugstore ran out of the foundation true to her skin color, so, impatient for the next supply to come in, she opts for the lighter shade. Her friends gather all around her complimenting her on how great her skin looks. They say things like, “Wow! Your skin looks so great!”, “The light shade makes your eyes pop!” , or even just a simple “You should do this more often.”. Each of these supposed compliments compile in the girl’s mind and haunt her as she begins to take her makeup off that night. She thinks, “Did they really like me better that way?”, “What if I could make my skin look like this all the time?”, “Do I really look better like that?”, and more. These thoughts and ideas are toxic to a young woman’s development. The unintentional negative to each of these phrases of affirmation became hurtful thoughts to the girl, shaping her mind to focus on insecurities and predisposing her to a future of surpassing those lies.

To move onward from hypothetical examples, I want to focus on a very popular topic now, Gender Dysphoria. The term Gender Dysphoria literally means gender depression or dissatisfaction. The depression manifests itself in the form of gender identity to certain people due to one or more of many factors.

  1. A traumatic event that made the subject not want to be himself or herself any longer.
  2. The affirmation at a young age in specific cases of when the child was encouraged when wearing clothing or acting in ways of the opposite sex and therefore deemed all other actions or clothing aligned with that sex wrong.

This sends the child on a constant hunt for that affirmation for it only to be found when putting on the appearance of the other gender. A study conducted in Sweden for over 30 years on the same subjects reported: “Ten to 15 years after surgical reassignment, the suicide rate of those who had undergone sex-reassignment surgery rose to 20 times that of comparable peers.” Now that is a negative result that we as a society cannot accept. We must work together to find solutions other than feminizing men or masculinizing women because biologically, patients remain the same gender after reassignment surgery.The brain does not know how to cope with the changing of genders in its inhabitants. The brain was designed specifically to that persons body, hormone, and chemical levels and when those levels are tampered with, a new construction is formed and the body and brain no longer work together to produce a mentally stable person. Mentally stable people do not commit suicide.

The Praise and Rejection of Man, by Bob Sorge, informs us on the truth that while affirmation of ourselves can be beneficial the praise is ultimately “food for God and poison for man”. This is a hard pill to swallow coming from a politically correct and always affirming society. We are taught to praise human beings and to praise the society that invites, influences, and instructs that praise, meanwhile it is tearing us down. This constant praise is also a constant negation of the opposite or previous behavior. This ever-present praise is a toxicity to the world we live in. Affirmation is the poison and we are it’s deliverers, we give it the power it holds. By our own hands, affirmation kills us. So the next time you are thinking of affirming certain behaviors, consider the negative affect it could have.

Remember, affirmation kills.