One of the most common and wasteful traits of humans is to seek approval from others. Whether it is sought from parents, friends or other family members, many of us look to others to validate our own worthiness, or even our own existence.
It is conditioned into us from an early age, since it is an egoic trait that passes through generations. No wonder so many of us seem to carry it around without being able to put it down. “Praise is good, criticism is bad”. “Seek praise and approval since this shows you and your actions are of high value. Avoid mistakes, criticism or disapproval, since this shows you and your actions to be unworthy or of low value.”
Life can become one big approval quest, since the ego can become addicted to the approval of others. Approval enhances its identity and feeling of self worth. Disapproval diminishes it. This is why disapproval from others can be such a great tool to burn up your false identity.
Don’t look to anyone else for approval. Not even your own mind. Be alone in your being. Internally, be by yourself, not even carrying a concept of “me” or “other people”. Whatever is said from the outside that is helpful will ring true and resonate with your being. Everything that is useless will not even feel to mean anything. They will feel like empty words if you remain in an inner solitude.
An inner solitude and not looking to anyone else for approval does not mean you will become closed off from others and feel more separate or depressed. This anticipation is from the mind, which can not understand what is being described. You actually feel far less separate from “others”. If you are internally alone, in your own self, and carry no concepts about yourself or others, then everything appears to be one. Voices, actions, objects, are all from your own self. You are alone, but not as a person. You are everything, but also nothing you can describe.
Of course it may appear as if you are somehow different to many humans in the way you interact. Perhaps less needy, more quiet. This may be misinterpreted as shyness, or something being wrong, but how others perceive you is not up to your, nor is it in your control.
If no one sought approval from anyone else, there would be no desperation in interaction, no need to impress, no fake smiles or nervous laughter. Far less drama.
Have you ever tried it? To just stop seeking approval? You are allowed to no longer seek approval. Just drop it for a moment. What a relief. Despite what you may have been told, you do not exist to meet anyone else’s approval.
Can't Drop It?
Since seeking approval is engrained in many, being able to drop it may seem difficult. If this is the case, you must be alert to the tendency or need to impress others or receive approval. If you can witness the tendency in yourself, no longer take it to be yours. It is some other energy. You can only be the awareness of it. Do not fight or suppress it, let it be. It may even act out through the body in certain ways or actions, but remain only as a witness. Do not identify with what you can perceive. Through this awareness, it will exhaust itself at some point.
Be The Same
It is likely that whatever you do, some will approve, others will not. Even if some people approve, they can disapprove the very next day, depending on the thoughts their minds generate. Opinions are so fickle and subject to change that they are not worth valuing. If you value your mind’s judgements and opinions less, then the opinions of others will as a result, not seem so important or dangerous.
Be the same in praise or blame, approval or disapproval. It is all the same really, quite transient and meaningless. Be alert to whatever rises and feels good from approval, and whatever shakes and despairs from disapproval or its anticipation. Monitoring your inner state in this way, and simply remaining as the awareness which never changes, your ego can burn up nicely.