Anything for Approval.

Via on May 23, 2012
lumix2004 - stockxchange

For the first 30 years of my life, getting other people’s approval was the most important thing in the world to me.

Getting approval was the main motivator in my life. I got great grades, mostly because that earned the approval of my parents and teachers. I practiced the violin a lot, got two college degrees in performance, and made that my first career—mostly because playing well earned the approval of parents, teachers, conductors and audiences.

Lucky for me, the things that got me approval were mostly beneficial to me. But, I started to see the downside when I learned that getting approval was just a way to cope with the feeling: “there’s something wrong with me.”

As long as others liked me, I could ignore that voice deep inside for a little while longer. The cost of ignoring the “something wrong with me” voice was that I also buried many other internal voices, like the one that could tell me what really mattered to me.

I’ll never forget the time that a close friend, who often was in big crisis, was having yet another major drama—and I was preparing to jump in and do whatever I could to make it better.

Another friend asked me, “Do you want to rescue her again?”

It was such a perplexing question to me, nearly incomprehensible actually. The words, “Do you want,” just didn’t make any sense.

I realized then that I was so dependent upon others’ approval, that I rarely (if ever) stopped to wonder if I was doing something because I wanted to.

It was hard to even connect with what I wanted.

I work with clients on this issue all the time too. When I suggest that this survival mechanism is something they can unlearn, they get scared.

“Am I going to turn into a competitive jerk? I don’t want to be that guy!”

But that never happens, because the alternative to this coping mechanism is to express one’s uniqueness, and our uniqueness is the part of us that is connected to everyone and everything else in the world.

So, expressing uniqueness actually invites others to express their uniqueness. It’s a win-win.

One of my clients recently had a big breakthrough in this realm recently. Someone in her work group suggested a strategy that seemed like the group would agree to, but my client thought it was a bad idea. It’s a situation she’s been in with this group before and disagreeing hasn’t gone well for her, but she did it, anyway. To her great surprise, the strongest voices in the group immediately agreed and said they were thinking exactly the same thing.

This is a phenomenon I see a lot. When my client makes a fundamental change in how she feels about herself (this time, in the realm of expressing her opinion), the people around her seem to shift their feeling and behavior towards her.

We really underestimate how much of others’ behavior towards us is directly generated from the feeling with which we express ourselves.

As for myself, I can say that life is so much easier now, not constantly guessing what might make someone happy at any given moment. When someone asks me what I want to do, I can actually answer and feel comfortable saying it out loud.

And that friend who was always in crisis? When I stopped jumping in to rescue her, she started to find more inner strength and resilience, and she seems happier these days. Like I said, it’s a win-win.

Do you do things mostly for other people’s approval or so they’ll like you? Or do you find yourself obsessing over what other people think of you? I’d love to hear about your experience in the comments below.

~

Editor: Brianna Bemel

About Sara Avery

Sara Avery’s passion is helping people uncover the energy that creates their story and the uniqueness of who they really are. In 2001, she transitioned from her first career as an orchestral violinist to guiding people through the deep transformation of Quanta Change. Quanta Change identifies Learned Distress (the feeling that “there is something wrong with me” absorbed in the womb and early in life) as the source of non-well-being. This unique process works with your brain during sleep to permanently remove layers of Learned Distress, allowing your natural well-being to become the source from which your life is generated. Sara’s clients discover a new ease and joy in life that they’ve never experienced—in emotional, spiritual, and physical realms. One client said, “I’ve been seeking for 40 years, and this is by far the best thing I’ve ever done for myself.” Learn more on her website or read more from Sara on her blog. Or, connect with her on Facebook or Twitter.

455 views

3 Responses to “Anything for Approval.”

  1. Very wise advice, indeed, Sara. Loving your growing collection of elephant articles.

    Thanks,

    Bob

  2. [...] brings me back to my teacher. One of my personal “issues” is that I really want to be “good,” to be “right” and to make people happy. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been afraid of disappointing people. Even when I act like a [...]

Leave a Reply