Stop Seeking Approval And Start Living In Real Freedom
Seeking approval is a powerful motivating force in most of us. Our unending search for the confirmation of others runs deep within us. We are unknowingly driven by the idea that if we could just be accepted, that would be the key to finally knowing who we are. Most of us share the mistaken belief that if we could get enough people to approve of us, then we would feel some relief from the ache in our soul that is always trying to figure out who we should be.
SEE ALSO: 20 Positive Affirmations For Well-Being
Living in captivity
As a result, we are kept in a secret form of captivity. But we can break free of its bonds, and this liberating process starts by asking ourselves: What happens to someone who is always looking for approval? The answer is clear: We sell ourselves! This unconscious, self-destructive behavior has become so habitual to us we don’t catch it. But if we’re paying attention, we can see it when we watch other people. Just listen to a group of people talking over lunch and you can see that the casual conversations of human beings are really fencing competitions ¬– one person saying something and then another person trying to top it. There is this continual tug of war, a real competition going on. Lunches in a social situation can be exhausting!
Then there are our families. At a family dinner, all the old business is brought up, with everyone competing and trying to prove they did better in life than we did.
If we can see this is so, it raises some important questions:
- Why does this go on? Why do we take part in it? What is taking place within us when there is a continual longing for acceptance? Why do we feel that if we’re approved, we’ll finally find our real self?
- Why is it that anyone can look at us askew, or someone can say the smallest thing and all the king’s horses and all the king’s men can’t put us back together again!
- What is the root of the endless compromise where we want to be accepted, but to be accepted we have to gain approval – and we’ll sell ourselves to get that approval, no matter how we must do it?
- Why is that even if we are actually confirmed by someone, we need two “someones” to confirm us after that? Why is it never enough? Why is it that there are there never enough possessions, never enough power, never enough authority, etc.?
The root within us of our endless search for acceptance and approval is a part of us that is forever telling us that we are unacceptable as we are. Something lives in us that actually causes, by its very nature, a feeling in us that as we are, we are just not enough. And then, ironically, doing what that part of us says to do actually makes us more vulnerable. For example, perhaps you think to yourself, “I’m not enough. I need more money.” So you go out and make more money. But then maybe you lose the money you had defined yourself by, and what happens then? You go straight down. You crash. And now you have to find something new to define yourself by!
We must understand that no definition of anything, including ourselves, exists without having its root in comparison. Comparison is fine when it comes to practical thought, too hot vs. cold, to know what route to take to get home, etc.
But it isn’t right when it comes to questions like “who am I?” or “what’s my life about?” If I try to know who I am, what my true nature is, by comparing myself to some external measure, then I’ve made myself dependent on the thing I’ve compared myself to. We want to be free, and to be free means to understand what the path of freedom is really about. The path of freedom is not about winning acceptance from the world around us; in fact, the path of freedom, of coming to possess our own life, cannot be gained by anything we might imagine.
If we are to be free, we must begin with discovering what it is within us that causes us to see ourselves as needful of those things we now sell our souls to win. If we will agree to let go of whatever we find that binds us to the false idea that we are somehow incomplete – then freedom follows naturally. It is done for us. And we will know the Life and Liberty for which our hearts long.
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