Need for approval
Death of your uniqueness
The need to be approved of by others runs pervasive throughout our shared reality. Being approved of relates to everything from fitting in with our families and friends, belonging to social groups, and feeling safe, significant and worthy. Even those whom seem to pave their own path and not care what others think of them may have deeper or more subtle layers of being hijacked by their need for approval.
The need to be approved of by others is birthed in relationship with “other”. It may have been reflected to you when you were young that you “did something wrong” or that you need to act in such and such way in order to fit in. You learned that approval from others is important if you want to fit in and “be loved”. Somehow love, acceptance and self-worth got merged with approval. This is what could be termed “conditional” love. I will love you only if you act or are these certain ways. This is manipulation, not love.
When the need to be approved of takes place at this young age we often lose connection to our uniqueness. Call it your essence, direction, clarity, confidence, gifts, etc. This is one of the reasons people often feel like they don’t know what their purpose is because to know it may mean that you become an outcast, no longer belong, aren’t safe and may not survive. That is some pretty big stuff so no wonder we keep the mask up of “not knowing” or following our purpose. It’s much physiologically safer to do so.
One of the ways to see where you are still seeking approval over being your authentic self is noticing where you do things that you don’t really want to do in relationship with others because you feel like you “have to”. Like its your duty or obligation to do so. You will typically feel a heavy sensation in your body, tightness in the heart/chest, knots in your belly and it will feel like an impossibility to entertain the idea of not doing the “thing” as the repercussions would be too great. Meaning it feels like there would be to much disruption, people would be too upset and so you justify “its just not worth it”. With this you often build up resentment towards the other(s) when really it is simply you that is not acting in alignment with yourself. You often think you are doing the “right thing”, even being altruistic if you will, and that by you just sucking it up it will make everyone else happy and feel good. However you do so at the detriment of what feels good and right to you. Over time you learn to trust yourself less and less, hate yourself more and more, and become increasingly disconnected from what’s truly important to you, even dismissing it entirely and convincing yourself that you don’t matter. In these ways you have created more value on the need for approval from others than you have on your own self.
This breads massive amounts of lack of clarity and confidence in yourself. Your value, worth and belonging is caught up in making sure that other people are happy with your actions. Yuck. Even just writing that sentence feels bad. It feels bad because its so distorted and ultimately untrue, yet most of us are living this as reality which is deeply sad.
The first thing to remember and know is that your worth is inherent. Meaning whether or not others approve of an action you take or decline to take, or even a perspective or lens you view the world with, it means absolutely nothing about you, your worth, your value or significance. Also remember that if you don’t want to do something that someone else wants you to do it does not make you a bad person, friend, spouse, lover, mother, daughter, brother, etc. It simply means you prefer something else even if that something else is seen as selfish or unloving by others. This can be one of the hardest things to swallow because for most of us being viewed as selfish or unloving by others tends to make us feel bad about ourselves. The thing is that you must commit to your own knowingness, listen to your own desires and when you do this it is never selfish or unloving, but indeed the opposite. It is permissioning you to simply be your-self. It is deeply caring for yourself and honoring that which you are here to do and express.
Lastly if you find yourself not taking a certain action that you do want to take or perhaps not creating something because you fear others opinion of you, realize this to is seeking approval from others. You may feel small, like “you don’t know enough” or “who are you to do xyz”, and find yourself comparing yourself to another who seems to know more. You fear how they might judge what you create or do so you do nothing because your fear of judgment or lack of approval is too great. If you find yourself doing this explore what it’s like to simply free yourself from needing their approval of you and what you want to do or create. In fact see if you can free yourself from needing anyone’s approval of you. This includes approval from your parents, kids, teachers, friends, colleagues, mentors, etc. You don’t need their approval. When you get this you also start to get self-love and unconditional love. You no longer insist that others do things in specific ways either and free them to follow their truest impulse of what feels good to them.
Rather then making sure you are loved/approved by others you move towards making sure you are loving and approving of yourself. That you are taking actions in alignment with yourself. You realize more and more that you really don’t need love or approval from anyone because you are bubbling over in love and approval (acceptance) of yourself. This is completely liberating. Its beyond manipulation and conditions. Its free. This is the true nature of love and of you. This is the alignment of you as love.
Amanda Hessel, Chiropractor, Network Spinal Analysis & Somato-Respiratory Integration, Boulder, Colorado