Courage To Live Beyond Approval

We are conditioned from birth to seek approval from others. As infants, we learn to do things which result in attention and praise from those around us. Our own self-perception is initially formed through the filter of others’ approval.  Especially during the years of our youth, the approval of others or a lack thereof can fuel our agony or ecstasy. We join social groups, or learn to avoid them, depending on how much others approve of and embrace us; and how much we approve of and embrace others. Our actions are often rooted in conformance or non-conformance to others’ approval. Eventually, though, we learn to move beyond the approval of others and march to the beat of our own drummer. Or do we? What role does the approval of others play in defining your actions, or inaction? Do you have the courage to live beyond approval?

Do you still judge yourself and what you do according to the approval you receive from others? It is a hard habit to break! We all love to be loved. Most of us were trained to connect approval to love and self-esteem. There are layers and layers to the ‘approval onion’ that we must satisfy if we make others the ultimate gauge of our wisdom, value, or purpose. Family, friends, and billions of strangers all have the potential to judge; to approve or disapprove. Billions! Escape the sticky, paralyzing tendrils of this approval monster.  Keep it simple. Put yourself at the top of your list of people whose approval is important.  Follow your name with the names of those directly affected by your decisions or actions. Do no harm. Keep your “I deeply care what these people think” list short!

Then, you may be open to considering the objective input of others on your short list without the crippling weight of others’ approval keeping you from exploring and realizing your own potential. The people on your short list love you. Their love is not based on approval. If it is, that sounds like their issue.

Changing your relationship to approval will clear your outbound lanes as well! You will be free to accept others without having to approve of them. You can just accept that they are on their path, with or without your approval. How much energy can you free by letting go of the need to judge and approve of others? How many doors can you open by blessing and embracing others just because they are part of your human tribe? Diversity is strength. Let go of only approving of people that look, think or sound just like you do.

Let us all learn to look within our own heart for the approval that tells us we are loved, valuable, and on our path; and encourage others to do so. The courage to live beyond approval will free us all to explore our greatest potential in this New Year.

All the best to you in 2014!



© Louise Kearns 2013. All Rights Reserved. Permission is granted to share this article in its entirety on the condition that full credit is given to the author, it is distributed freely and the URL is included.

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