Seeking Approval: A Prison of Your Own Making

greatest prison Today is Friday, October 4, 2013.

Davide Icke is right: seeking approval from other people is like putting yourself in prison, because you are always limited in what you can do or say, based on what other people think.   It’ a never-ending search, because you will always run into someone or other who doesn’t approve.  You simply can’t please all of the people in your life, all of the time, and it’s crazy-making if you try.

Sadly, the only person’s approval that is worth anything is your own, and many people lose sight of that.  The way I see it, if you are doing the best that you can, and you are putting forth your best effort, then what is there not to approve of?  If you are doing whatever-it-s for the right reasons, what’s not to approve?  Strangely enough, people seek approval from others because they fear that self-approval is not good enough, for some reason.  And yet, if you think about it, if you don’t approve of yourself, why should anybody else approve of you?

be yourself

Click to enlarge.

When I was a teen, I’m pretty sure there were adults who were telling me that it was not such a good idea to seek approval from my peers, but what teen listens to that sort of advice, when they can see that the “popular” kids all get treated like royalty, at least in teen circles.  For teens, instead of pushing the message of not soliciting the approval of others, I think a better tack is to just find a way to show them what fine specimens of humanity they are.  That’s hard, sometimes, when they don’t live up to their highest capacity, but when they do shine, that’s the time to heap on the praise.  But more than praise, we need to find a way to show kids how to appreciate a job well done, so that when we are no longer there to cheer for them, they can learn to cheer for themselves.  Furthermore, we must give then the idea that it is perfectly OK to be proud of themselves and their accomplishments, and it is not OK for anyone to put them down, for any reason. When kids learn in early childhood to accept and approve of themselves, they will be miles ahead of the crowd when they hit their teen years, and perhaps peer pressure will be a bit more manageable.

Approval is a tricky thing.  I remember my first real job was working as kitchen help in my freshman dormitory.  The supervisor was an older woman whose lined, careworn face resembled nothing so much as a turtle’s head, and she had a very bitter and confrontational attitude.  I’ll never forget her words, though:  “Your job is to please your supervisor.”   That turned out to be very good advice that stood me in good stead throughout my working life, no matter whether I was working at a part-time job or full-time as a career teacher.  It’s true that in our work, we must strive to please our supervisors.  The key, however, is this: don’t mistake your supervisor’s approval of your efforts at work for approval of you as a human being!  They are not the same!

whose approvalOne of the most devastating things to happen to anyone is to break up with a boyfriend or girlfriend, or divorce a husband or wife.  Part of the pain is the perceived loss of “approval” of the person who once loved you.  It took me a long, long time after my divorce to realize that I was still loveable, whether my ex loved me or not.  In retrospect, I’m glad I took the time to do this.  So many people run right into a “rebound” type of relationship in order to assure themselves that they are still loveable.   It was and is hard to maintain that belief that I am loveable, even though I have not had any major relationships since my divorce in 1981.  It would be so easy for me to say, “Well, see, you haven’t attracted anybody into your life all this time.  Guess you aren’t loveable after all.”   It’s been a real test, is all I can say.

I do have a huge circle of friends, many of whom are not shy about telling me that they love me and that they are anxious to see me again.  How many of us are blessed with friends who tell us in so many words that they love us?  Although I value the love of my friends, I no longer seek their approval.  They may give it, anyway, as a gift of love, but I don’t seek it.  In fact, I’m confident that, even when my friends don’t exactly approve of something I’ve done or said, they will still love me.  That’s true, unconditional love.

For anyone still struggling with approval issues, I am going to give you a gift.  Below you will find your very own  personal seal of approval.  Feel free to use it as often as you like until you get your groove on.  🙂




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2 responses to “Seeking Approval: A Prison of Your Own Making

  1. Beautiful article Linda. Thank you.
    I witnessed some divorces that happened happily, especially those where difference of religions dominates. God unites souls, Love understands lots of things and doesn’t wish to transform the other but when one in the couple offers so much of what he or she loves by asking a lover to join them in their church! And imagine how many hours of dose of catechism that soul gets everyday while they feel like contemplating instead… gosh!

    And know that this experience happened despite the agreement of both people at the beginning that they should respect each other religion …

    A friend of mine, a very patient lady tolerated everything to save her union but when she finally thought that she has to get out of her home, she felt like dancing in the winds. Nothings else matters to her than attending a religion that matches with her personal understanding of things, life and everything. And this only makes her happy about the breakup.

    • Thanks for your thoughtful reply, Achille. When we are true to ourselves, we can’t help but be happier, even if it means we have to leave a relationship, especially if the relationship was causing us misery.

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