The Approval Trap

Aug 25, 2014 | Approval | 0 comments

Were you taught to seek the approval of others? Have you ever felt that you couldn’t be “OK” unless some outside source validated you? This is the approval trap, and I’ve seen it limit or destroy the lives of many amazing beings who didn’t know that just being them was the greatest gift they could give the world!

Approval seeking is based on the idea that someone else’s judgment of what we should be or do or look like has value. Why would you think it had value? How far from knowing what is true for us do we have to go to make someone else’s judgment greater than ours? Most people seek approval in order to fit in, or simply because no one told them there was another way. I have a friend who was overweight from an early age. She talks about how she used approval seeking as a challenge or test to others. Will you like me in spite of my body size? Will you be my friend no matter how bad I look? Notice that there was already a judgment there that there was something wrong with her and her body. As she began to come out of judgment of herself and her body, she began to lose the extra weight without any effort. It was actually the judgment behind the approval seeking that kept the weight on.
Another common target for approval seeking is to be seen as the “good” girl or boy. This often develops at an early age when children are vulnerable to their parent’s comments, demands and even punishments. Did you decide that being “good” was the only way to survive? Or perhaps that it could save you a lot of trouble and get you some goodies? Most of us made choices like that just because it seemed like the easiest and smartest thing to do. And it might have been at the time. The difficulty with adjusting ourselves so that we can gain approval is that we lose track of who we really are, and seeking approval always requires the seeker to contract and contort themselves into something they are not. What was a good strategy as a child might not be serving you now!

Seeking approval is all about not knowing you have value unless someone else says so. It is also about measuring yourself against some arbitrary standard that you may not even be aware of. The truth is, the only person who can be in approval of you is you! You are the only one who can know if what you are being or doing or saying works for you and is congruent with who you desire to be.

Approval seeking is a huge habit, but it’s easier to break than you might think. One thing you can do immediately is to ask: “What would I like to create as my life and living?” rather than “Whose approval am I seeking now?”
If you begin to look to what you desire to create, and take steps in that direction, you can unhook from the whole approval-seeking trap.

One caveat here: there may be people in your life who have controlled you with their approval. As you begin to disconnect, there could be pressure to return to the old behavior. Some questions you might ask: Do I really need this person’s approval? What’s the value of making them greater than me? How much more fun could it be to be me rather than twist myself into what someone else want’s me to be?

Another great tool of Access Consciousness to use when you find yourself seeking approval is Interesting Point Of View. This helps to take you out of judgment when you do seek approval. When you don’t make the behavior significant, it’s much easier to change and to choose something different. So if you find yourself seeking approval form someone, just say: “Interesting point of view I’m seeking (Mary’s) approval. What else could I choose now?”

There is something that can look like approval but actually is not, and that is acknowledgement. Acknowledgment is about saying what is, rather than making a judgment. If somebody acknowledges what it is, you can actually have it, receive it and things get better. If you look from the place of seeking approval you always have to judge whether you got it or not. There is always a kind of charge or energetic glitch when there is approval seeking or giving, because it’s based on the lie that the judgment that underlies it is true. Acknowledgment has no hidden agenda. It’s just stating what is.

Stepping away form approval seeking is a great way to begin to know more about yourself and to begin to create the life you truly desire. It’s also about stepping into the gift you can be to the world. The world does not need another being who’s suppressed themselves to please Joe, or mom, or dad, it needs the unique YOU!