Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Living Life As An Approval-Seeker

Richard Carlson says in his book, "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff for teens", that "approval-seekers are people who make the majority of their decisions (at least the important ones) based on what they think other people will think. Rather than following their own conscience, wisdom, intelligence, intuition and well-thought-out plan, they are more concerned with achieving the approval and acceptance of others - parents, friends, society, or whomever."
Seems like a well thought out and complete definition for an approval-seeker. I should know, its my personal struggle. Less now since I turned 50, such a wonderful place in life ! 40's were good but the 50's are so much better.
Most folks that seek approval are operating out of a fear of rejection. There are also SOME folks (not all, so don't get riled up) that say they don't need anyones approval and just simply do their own thing, but its often one of those situations where, you know they "doth protest too much" and really are telling you, you had better not reject my actions, a wall, a layer of protection so you will not even dare make a comment of approval or rejection regarding their actions. These folks are often the ones that deep down feel the most rejection. Human nature seeks some form of approval, its just when it becomes the motivator, the dictator of our actions that it steals from us the ability to be true to our own journey, our own path taking. In seeking the outlook or the view of others, we can learn things, but you can't live your whole life just to please others. You can find yourself being a fake and there is no peace in that.
I will never ever be the kind that is comfortable following some prescribed set of doctrines laid out by some human. That is because I think, and learn and see things differently as I learn and I certainly have travelled many roads and picked up good in each and every one. No one else has been on my journey. Its tough for me though, because I fight daily this Approval-Seeker thing. I want to please people, be what I am think they expect of me. Some folks still want me to be that plain woman for them, "its neat to know plain people" they say. But I am no longer that woman and don't ever want to be again. I am no Bible thumper either. I am not ever going to tell someone how they should believe. Been there done that and it felt like bitter water in my mouth. My spiritual journey is not narrow in learning and seeking. My faith in God is rock solid but my "doctrinal beliefs" well they are ever changing as they are the man made part. Doctrines are simply some man or woman's interpretation of the Bible that we can agree with. That's why there are so many churches, there are so many people with different understandings of the very same book.
Approval seeking comes in many forms. Often times people will even do crafts they don't even like just to get the approval of others. I had a friend that hated the piano, but through years of lessons, parents making her practice, she was pretty good. People would praise her for her abilities, but inside she felt trapped, hated playing the piano so much, but played just for the approval and didn't want to feel any rejection if she stopped playing. Our motivation for doing things becomes faulty when we live life as an approval seeker and true joy becomes a rare thing.
Its a work of a life time to stop living for the approval of others. But knowing you have the "disorder" is the first step to getting over it. When you know you live your life this way, you can see more clearly that you have a choice. . .you can say no to the things that you are doing just for approval, and the sky will not fall in. Rejection is not the end of the world.
Even in blogging, its really better to have 100 daily readers that accept you for what you share than to be trying to please the masses so you can have 1,000 daily readers. That was for me by the way. The thing is, rejection can hurt, approval feels nice. But really believing in something makes it so that rejection does not hold so much power and approval is just a bit of a bonus. The real joy comes in standing firm in what you believe or know to be the real you.

Walking our own path with confidence, head held high, takes way the need to be an approval seeker. It takes practice. Each small step, builds strength.

4 comments:

grbev said...

You know, Patty, to me a simple life is more than getting rid of things and spending less money, etc. It is freeing the mind to a simplified life style. You are right on, in my opinion, on this post. Surrounding myself with what I love and brings me joy, has sometimes been a problem as I deliberated over an item, "well, she gave this to me, what if she comes and doesn't see it, etc....." I have moved on from that and if asked about it, will say, " I found a way to bless someone else's life with it." And I feel more joy and less clutter in my environment and mind.

Thanks,

Bev

Mimi said...

after reading this post... I am afraid to admit that I have been an approval seeker...
I always seem to do everything that someone else wants me to do because they expect it of me...and through the years I have kind of forgotten how I want things.....
thanks to this post I am going to attempt to be more aggressive in my opinions and thoughts...
and we'll see how it goes!!
thanks for the post,
Mimi

Jeanne said...

Atta girl, Patty! You're on the right track here I think. but yes, easier said than done ...
Jeanne :)

Marianna said...

I find it interesting that you mentioned coming to accept the need to not seek approval in your 40's. I turned 40 a few months ago, and can sense a change for myself. I have struggled all my life with doing "what everyone expected of me." I'm finally beginning to see that that is not who I am at my core and am becoming less and less afraid to go for it! I'm glad to hear that it only gets better.

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