We are often trained in approval.
Get the approval, get the good report card, have people think highly of you, be seen as valuable in the eyes of others.
Probably because there is safety in being valued or approved of. Perhaps it’s part of our evolutionary minds, where being approved of meant that we were more likely to survive and be supported in communities or tribes.
It still holds true today — if people approve of you, they support you in some way, whether it is psychological or physical — if people value you, you are in a more advantageous social position.
However — knowing this as we do on some level, does the NEED for approval in order to feel comfortable within our own skin actually benefit us in our own lives?
The Approval Paradox
It seems that many of the people who gain most respect in this world are the ones that care less about what others think of them. They are less needy. They don’t care so much about what other people’s opinions are about them. They see that the opinions of others don’t actually make a difference to who they are.
The less needy someone is for others to make them feel good about themselves, the more authentic they become. They become in touch with their own inner wholeness, their own strength, rather than trying to get it from other people.
Once someone begins to resonate this inner feeling of wholeness, which is akin to a feeling of approval, the more people respond to this in kind. They gain approval by already having it in themselves, and yet if they don’t get it from others, it doesn’t matter.
The Education Of Approval
From an early age we learn to derive pleasure and good feelings from people praising us. We learn that to be praised is good, but to be chastised or disapproved of is bad. Since we naturally like pleasure and seek to avoid pain, we can become molded to live in a way that suits other people’s ideas of what we should do and who we should be. Other people may have good intentions for us, and yet their ideas of what is best or even possible for us can be grossly incorrect.
We have to experiment with seeing how it feels to not need to control the thoughts of others, to see how painful it is to let someone possibly disapprove or not think well of us. We have to feel it out, and see if it is as terrible as we thought it would be.
There is always a threat of what will happen if we are shunned, rejected, laughed at or embarrassed. If we can embrace these fears rather than flee from them, we may find that the pain and danger they suggested to be keeping for us - isn't really there at all.
Let Go Of Other Minds
To conclude, the attempt to control what others think about us creates a mental tightness and discomfort which can make us act from a place of trying to get something from others, rather than just genuinely contributing to life.
The more we play with letting the world think whatever it likes about us, the more at ease we are, the more free we feel, and the easier it is to actually gain respect and approval, without even needing it or going after it.
The wisdom is within.