In order to live a fulfilling life, we have to give up the need for approval from other human beings. Not giving up that need will never lead to deep satisfaction. We unconsciously know that it is dependant on what others think of us.
If fulfilment is dependant on others, it can be taken away at any moment. Like when someone feels like disapproving of you, which happens quite often.
Why Do You Want Approval in The First Place?
We all want approval because we believe that approval will make us feel good. Not only that, but from an evolutionary perspective, it has been safer to be in a group of people rather than singled out.
However, approval does not lead to feeling good. It simply means people have approved of your actions which they often mistake for you. As long as we believe that approval is necessary to feel good, we won’t give up looking for it.
What’s Behind Wanting Approval?
If we look deeper into ourselves, the need for approval really comes from not approving of ourselves. After all, no one’s words have power over how you feel, unless you believe them to be true. In which case your belief, that they are true, is having the power not the other person.
Well, if I don’t approve of me and that leads me to look for other people’s approval, what can I do?
The traditional answer would be to start approving of yourself, and while there might be some merit to it, I’m suggesting something completely different.
Taking Out The Linch Pin From Wanting Approval
Starting to approve of yourself may look like a logical thing to do. However, what if that was built on a misconception? What if you don’t need to recondition yourself and start believing in yourself?
Wanting approval is built on the assumption that there is someone, in this case you, that needs approval. But who is that you that wants approval?
Where do you find that you? This line of questioning may seem absurd, as you clearly are here wanting approval.
So let’s start with the thought of wanting approval. Isn’t ‘I want approval’ a thought?
If it’s a thought, it can’t be you, because you are aware of the thought. Just like any other thought, it comes and goes but you remain.
You may believe that you are the creator of the thought and hence you are the one wanting approval. What happens when you sit down and observe your thoughts? Aren’t they just popping up? You have not pre-thought them. You did not create them, they just came to you.
A thought of wanting approval does not mean you are wanting approval. It simply means there is a thought.
But the Feeling Must Be Right!
What about the feeling of wanting approval? The feeling is a sensation, are you the sensation? No. You are the one aware of the sensation.
If you start deepening this search to find the ‘you’ that needs approval, all you’ll find are sensations and thoughts that are spontaneously arising. Who you are is not a thought nor a feeling nor are you the creator of them. You are the one who is aware of them. When you deeply see that, the linch-pin collapses. The one who needed approval did not exist.
The Illusion Is Seen
Whenever we don’t see the illusory nature of thought, we start believing that we need approval. When we realize that there is no one here that needs the approval, that this whole thing is simply smoke and mirrors, it falls away.
What is revealed underneath all our insecurities and approval seeking was always a well of wellbeing. It was always there and is always there, but we don’t see it because we get caught up in the fireworks of thoughts and beliefs.
Luckily we all have the ability to see through the illusion of thought. Without having that ability, we most likely would be imprisoned or dead. You have seen countless times through a thought because you have this innate discernment.
All that is needed is for us to explore more deeply, where those thoughts and beliefs seem to be real for us. Hint: it usually is around the topics you get most defensive about.
Not Fortifying The Illusion
Rather than trying to restate how worthy, amazing, beautiful and lovable you are, why not go and find out where that ‘I’ really is. Why spend much time, beautifying something that is fickle and impermanent.
When we drop into a deeper dimension of being that is beyond thought, many things that seemed difficult and important become relative. What starts to prevail is a sense of peace and wellbeing. This sense can at first seem only fleeting but overtime it can become more and more the foreground of our experience.
This sense of peace and well being is the death of approval seeking.