Desire for Outside Approval Binds Us
Whose approval do you want the most?
If you already had that, how would you feel?
Approval is such a strong drive, most people are attracted to people most like… them.
Research indicates we are most attracted to people with similar personality types, who have similar DNA, who share our education level, and who look like us… or a family member.
Fitting in, feeling at home, and belonging tie to love. We unconsciously believe we are lovable in the ways we were rewarded for behaving as children. The truth is we experience the most love as our authentic selves.
Similarly, awards and recognition confirm our skill, courage, and focus. They can mark a turning point in self-confidence or belonging.
In contrast, need for consistent approval or recognition from a particular source (parent, child, spouse, boss, stranger) binds us.
Even the people who love us the most see life from their point of view, not ours. We are each a single-pilot space ship. The power and controls are all inside. When we adapt away from our essence and preference to please another person, or to win their approval, we take our hands off the inner controls and our attention off the monitor. Later, we wonder why we can’t fly.
The reason it is so common to search outside for validation and approval, is few people are modeling healthy self-esteem.
Even many outwardly successful people are really driven to overcome low self-worth through achievement. To feel good they must constantly compete to prove themselves… validation through winning.
In my own life, I always did well in school but was not particularly interested in it. However, before I started high school my dad let me know it was very important to him that I get good grades. Since he was someone whose approval I did not have and desperately wanted, I worked very hard in high school and finished first in my class.
You would think that brought me great satisfaction, but the truth was since I was performing for conditional acceptance, the praise and acknowledgment felt empty. I remember an awards night my senior year where I won at least four of the awards, but felt only uncomfortable and embarrassed. It was a long walk from my table to the podium.
When I graduated as Valedictorian and got into an Ivy League University and still did not have my dad’s approval, I gave up on academic achievement as a way to be loved but for many years still kept trying to win that conditional acceptance.
Going back to the single-pilot spaceship metaphor, working for someone’s conditional approval is like lining up at one over-worked gas station to wait in line for fuel. We are standing in line, burning fuel, hopeful to get what we need, when there is an entire unexplored Universe filled with fully equipped gas stations. To get to them requires leaving the familiar… courage and bravery.
Whether we’re attached to recognition, achievement or approval our need to receive from the outside is a tether that blocks freedom and stops natural change.
The agent freedpom, the magic power which releases us to steer securely from the helm of our own ship, is healthy self-esteem.
“Healthy self-esteem correlates with rationality, realism, intuitiveness, creativity, independence, flexibility, ability to manage change, willingness to admit and correct mistakes, benevolence, and cooperativeness.” ~ Nathaniel Branden, The Six Pillars of Self Esteem
According to the psychologist Erik Erikson, when we don’t have enough internal and external freedom in adolescence we end up in an arrested state of Role Confusion. We’re not really sure how we fit in. This is remedied when we revisit the self-exploration meant for the teenager. In a return to authenticity at any age, we develop our sense of self and personal identity — through an intense exploration of personal values, beliefs and goals.
Our world has the resources for us to vibrantly alive, delightfully authentic and organically successful. What stops us?
Well… one thing that frees us is to notice those places we tether and bind ourselves for approval, award or recognition.
You are the perfect being you were meant to be.
Free report! Download here. “5 Ways Self-Love Attracts More Love.”