While flipping between channels recently I was just in time to hear something that twitched a nerve in my body: “If you live for the approval of others, you will die from their rejection.” It was as if a light switch was turned on and I began to think of not only how draining seeking the approval of others can be, but how easily and at times unknowingly it kills you—to give up your power to someone who will smother you with their ideas of what should be, while silently bringing to a slow death both your self-esteem and emotional frame.
If you trace the route of this back to its beginning, you will easily find a time or a few when you looked back over your shoulder and only saw the moments when you activated a plan and it failed. Looked over your other shoulder and saw all the times you trusted yourself to venture out and you were ridiculed. These framed times left you more timid and distrusting of your own voice so instead you wait for the nod of approval from someone else who in your mind has it all together and exudes the image of someone who knows all the right keys to success. Or at the least, how to avoid failure. If we follow another’s lead and things go south somehow we are more likely to cushion that blow quite quickly and remain trusting, while becoming less forgiving of ourselves when we follow our own direction and it doesn’t work out. Is it in the trap of looking back that we get stuck and nurture the practice to seek approval from others, or is it in the unforgiveness of self where we choose to dwell that sinks us?
What you don’t know is how very good you really are because you can no longer distinguish between your thoughts and gifts and someone else’s. Their thoughts have become yours and your chosen course a route that has been mapped out for you. Ironically, you also don’t know that the very person you’re waiting for to grant an approval, also at some point fell flat on their face and may be falling before your very eyes. They just simply know how to remain calm and non-emotional in the midst of their plans going awry.
So, you’ve smothered your own compass by the thoughts of others, waiting on their next indicator of what to do, what to say and when to move. You have mastered planning your life and your next steps around what might meet their approval and though you’re miserable on the inside and find yourself hollow from not speaking and feeling your own truth. To ‘belong’ somehow makes this feel so much better, if only temporarily.
You make plans that line up with what will make your parents proud. You sink your efforts into building relationships that look good on paper and look good to others. We seek degrees and professions that will receive a nod from society that we are approved. We are successful. All the while who we really are and our inside voice is saying “Pick me”….”As you are is enough.”
If we give our voice just one more chance and take a baby step or two towards approving ourselves and endorsing our own thoughts, we will experience just how powerful we really are. Above all else, we would have given ourselves the chance to really live out loud.