Why You Must Stop Seeking Approval (Hint: Your life depends on it)
I’ll never forget that day.
It was a long time coming. And it came with a lot of expectations.
I was graduating. But this time from an institution that I cared about. A degree program that really interested me.
And, it was a Master’s. Yes!!
I. Am. A. MASTER !!! Of something… Or so says my college.
But, as satisfying as that was, it was almost just as satisfying (I thought) accomplishing something that would make me appear to be smarter, better, more put together, than other people.
And to get some good pics to post on Facebook would be priceless. Like, really important.
It was evidence of my value (I thought). And hopefully there will be a lot of people online scrolling their news feeds to see my academic “mastery”- ness.
I, momentarily, had something I could show off.
In fact, there’s danger even writing this because it dances perilously close to the edge of seeking your approval by telling you what I did with potentially some veiled self-congratulatory scheme.
But let’s go there.
Because seeking others’ approval to justify our lives (with their almost infinite complexities) is a really big deal. And if you struggle with this, you are not alone.
More than that, you’re in the majority. So stay with me here.
You can get free.
I want to be clear here that there is nothing wrong with being proud of what hard work and perseverance produce. An accomplishment is worthy of praise and we need to allow ourselves to bask in it for a bit.
But there is a chasm of difference between that and seeking others’ approval to justify our value, our worth, and even our existence.
If you take the approval seeking route, you will avoid taking healthy risks, will miss opportunities, and over time, significantly impact your health in some very negative ways.
The thing is – you have a seat at the table.
And what does that mean?
It means you need not perform to feel equal to anyone.
There is only one of you. And by virtue of this fact, you have a history, a quality, a gift, and a voice to share that is loaded with meaning and significance.
The world doesn’t need you to clone someone else. That someone else already exists.
The world needs you.
Because people need you. In all your idiosyncratic originality. All your imperfection. All your beauty.
Not seeking the approval of another person does not equate to shutting them out, isolating yourself, or not caring. That is destructive and self-defeating.
Rather, when you stop auditioning for people, you empower yourself to really help them. You free your “hands” up to serve them. And you vulnerably open yourself up to deeper intimacy and connection that cuts through superficial, self-focused posing.
You’re freed up to live in the present moment.
Because whether or not you are received with some standard of praise or noticed sufficiently, you care more about giving what you have.
And what you have matters.
Lay down the approval of others. We need you.
No audition necessary.