In her groundbreaking book, Loving What Is, Byron Katie famously wrote, If I had a prayer, it would be this: ‘God, spare me from the desire for love, approval, or appreciation. Amen.’
When I first encountered it, that prayer got my full attention. Because it needs to be my prayer.
As long as I look to anyone outside myself for love, approval or appreciation, I am bound to be disappointed, or afraid of being.
I return to Katie’s prayer now because I realized this morning that I need her radical stance in order to deal with a “rejection situation” that is troubling me. Although this possible spurning is fairly subtle and not critical to my long-term well being, it lingers on in the back of my mind.
The situation causes me to feel less than good about myself, and uncomfortable about how to deal with the two women involved when I run into them again, which I am sure to do.
And that suggests that I am playing a significant part in my own unhappiness. It’s a part I must own up to (and really own) if I am to heal my little girl heart from the wounds it apparently still carries.
To be whole, let alone holy, I must try to understand and embrace my disappointment and discouragement about this latest rejection, instead of merely wishing the feelings away.
The details are so absurd that if I hadn’t already published a book called Bare Naked at the Reality Dance, I might be embarrassed to tell you. But here it is.
Last month, I met two women who seemed particularly interesting and (here’s the ego catch) particularly interested in me.
Such a winning combination doesn’t occur all that often. Many people seem interesting, at least from the perspective of their résumé. But some are so self-absorbed that we talk only about them during our first conversation, and (if there are such) our second and third chats as well.
While I find this happens more often with men (sorry guys!), it happens with women too.
The other common scenario is when people are interested in me, but I don’t find them all that interesting.
So when I meet not one, but two women with whom I seem to share meaningful common ground, and who express what feels like genuine interest in me, my ego and I are delighted. I imagine (no, I hope) that we will see each other again and be friends.
Is there anything wrong with that?
While we might not think so, maybe there is. Still, I think most would agree that my reaction to the situation was normal, and how I followed up appropriate.
Both women, whom I met within a week of each other, said they would check out my site. One appeared wildly enthusiastic about my book, took my card and promised to be in touch. The other talked me up excitedly about a topic of interest primarily to her, and suggested we exchange contact information. We did, and she promised to invite me over to continue our discussion.
So when I heard nothing from either woman after several days, I took the initiative and sent warm emails. I said how much I’d enjoyed meeting each of them and how I hoped we would reconnect. I offered to follow up on the matter one had said she wanted to pursue with me.
It’s been three weeks, and I’ve received nothing but a standard LinkedIn request from one. Nary a word from either acknowledging my emails.
What the hell is going on?
That, dear readers, is what I find myself wondering a little too often for my own good.
Now that I’ve laid it out, I see the explanation could be simple enough. Maybe the women didn’t get my emails, or I didn’t get theirs, though it’s unlikely all went astray. Or maybe they are so caught up in their busy lives they don’t have time for a new friend. Maybe they decided I wasn’t that interesting (obviously the explanation I like least). Or it’s something else. Who knows?
Whatever it is, the bottom line in terms of my own development is this: I thought these two women were pretty darned cool and I wanted their friendship a little too much. I didn’t want to want it that much, but I did (though my writing in the past tense may be a sign I am moving on).
The problem, of course, is that there was at least a hint of neediness in my wanting so much to hear from them and have them be my friends. Perhaps they picked up on it and were put off. Either way, that neediness-I-hate-to-feel speaks volumes about my self-worth and my self-care.
It says I am not free of the desire for love, approval or appreciation. And it says I want it from others because I do not yet give enough of it to myself.
God bless me, and God bless us all in our ignorance of our beauty, and in the painful fears and desires our ignorance creates.
Perhaps this is a good place to stop and drop into my heart, the one almost sure way to connect with the deep-down Self who knows that I am beautiful and that I am enough. To land there, I may need to cry a bit. I’ll see if I can work up gratitude for the two friends-who-may-never-be, for showing me where I am not yet free and bringing me back to my knees to pray with Katie.
God, spare me from the desire for love, approval, or appreciation. Amen.
As long as I look to anyone outside myself for love, approval, appreciation (or even for friendship), I am bound to be disappointed or afraid of being. And I am not free.
May I please do whatever it takes to love, approve of and appreciate myself, and to value my freedom above all else.
I am glad you are here. Thank you for holding my hand as I confess my fears and desires in our shared quest for clarity and liberation. I hope you’ll feel free to share yours as well, in a comment below, for the inspiration and good of us all.
I can’t wait to see what you’ll say!
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Apprentice Editor: Chrissy Tustison / Editor: Renee Picard
Photo: via Flickr