“When you do not seek or need approval, you are at your most powerful.” – Carolyn Myss
Have you ever felt like you are standing on the outside of life looking in on everyone else who seems to be happy and have it all together? Are you perpetually the chameleon changing your colors depending on who you are with? Do you just want to be a part of the group, rather than the one standing on the fringes?
If so, then welcome! I have felt like I’ve been on the outside looking in for most of my life. I perpetually felt like the little girl with her nose pressed up against the glass wanting what she could not have…to belong.
I just wanted to be accepted and I wanted to connect. Is that such a bad thing? Of course not.
Doesn’t everyone want to feel like they fit in and are liked and accepted? Maybe.
So, not knowing how to deal with those feelings, I did what most people do to fit in. I followed the pack. I drank too much, in a feeble attempt at feeling more comfortable. I do not know for sure if I fit in any better, but I do know that I cared less.
I cursed and acted cool. I still curse, but it is less about being cool. I feigned interest in conversations I found uninteresting and trivial, dying silently behind my smile. I talked about the things that people seem to want to talk about, denying my own voice. I rarely disagreed with others, keeping my thoughts and opinions to myself, instead nodding approvingly.
And I hated it.
I sometimes tried to bring up topics that did interest me…spirituality, the suffering in the world, the age-old question “what is life about?” That usually got me a deer in the headlights look or the disapproval I was trying so hard to avoid. Not exactly the typical party conversation.
So, I kept trying to figure out how to be…more like “them”.
I am sure this will not be a surprise to you, but I was not happy.
Why, you ask?!
Because I was trying to be something and someone I am not. I was making the approval of others the priority in my life. I was allowing someone else to determine my value.
What Is Your Soul Purpose?
What exactly makes someone else’s opinion more important than mine? What makes the approval of anyone, the appropriate barometer for my personhood?
Now, I understand why fitting in was important. As a child, I never felt like I did, so I was always attempting to adapt to my surroundings in order to minimize feelings of rejection. I needed to be compassionate with myself as I began to understand why I felt the way I did. I needed to take long, kind and frequent looks at myself to heal what had been broken.
We are each unique individuals, who I believe, are here on this earth for some particular reason and purpose. I cannot possibly know what that is for anyone else. It isn’t even my business, unless they choose to tell me. And honestly, I wish they would. That is the kind of conversation I can wrap my brain around.
Nonetheless, what is my business is to discover what my reason and purpose is. But before I do that I have to let go of the idea that “fitting in” is more important than being who I am.
How is that for a soul mission?
To be fully who I am…without worrying whether I fit in, am approved of or accepted.
If we all did that, fitting in would become irrelevant.
I already belong…we all do.
No matter race, religion, gender, country, disability or any other differentiating factor you can conjure up to explain your separateness, we are all a part of the human race and so, necessary to our wholeness.
Knowing that, of course, is the hard work. Who am I underneath my need for approval or acceptance?
What Happens When You No Longer Need The Approval Of Anyone Else…
What happens when you no longer need the approval of anyone else…when fitting in no longer matters?
Well, let me tell you, because this is good stuff.
I have discovered that the more I approve of myself, the less I care what others think. The more I love and accept myself…all of me…especially the not so pretty parts, the better I feel. The less I judge myself, the less I am concerned with the judgments of others.
What I also discovered was that the things I assumed others were judging me on, were the very things with which I was judging myself. The things I wanted approval from others about, were the things I was withholding approval from myself. I also recognized that I wanted others to love me, so I would feel better about myself, all the while avoiding finding out what it meant to love myself.
In other words, my happiness was dependent on the approval, acceptance and love of others. I needed it to validate my existence.
That was a pretty powerless place to be. It is so much more empowering to be responsible for my own happiness. It is so much more empowering to not have my self-worth be dependent on someone else.
When I began to accept and love myself, valuing myself was a natural outcome. When I began to value myself, I expected people to treat me better, knowing where and when to draw lines when others overstepped them. I also began to recognize I had something to say worth listening to, even if the people around me didn’t want to hear it.
Yes, go figure, I realized I had something to offer the suffering world. In this process, I found my own voice and I discovered fulfilling ways to use it. I was no longer so afraid to speak up, even when someone disapproved.
I no longer hung my head in shame, which I am sure is right up there with one of the worst feelings we experience in life.
Although I needed help to make these discoveries about myself, I realized it was my own approval and acceptance that I always needed. Truthfully, what someone else thinks about me, whether they like me or not, approve of me or not, is none of my business. That is their problem, not mine.
As Carolyn Myss says, “When you do not seek or need approval, you are at your most powerful.”
That is because we are well on our way to being our truest self. There is so much power in that! Our truest self is not going to be ruled by an insecure ego.
The true self is never threatened by others or has any need to compare itself to anyone other than its highest self. It is then that we can emerge to fully be whoever we are called to be. It is then that we have the greatest impact on the world.
Whether a mentally or physically disabled person, a Mother or Father, a trash collector or accountant, an athlete or a homeless person, if we are fully being who we are called to be, then we will have the impact on the world that we are intended to have. We will also be at peace.
So, who is this True Self? What does the real me look like?
The Real Me
It is the one who feels at peace when making a decision, despite the anxiety the ego might feel about the reaction or opinions of others. It is the one who gets excited at the possibilities, when the world tells you it’s impossible. It is the small voice inside that says, “yes, you can” even while another voice is telling you, ‘no, you can’t. It is the one that perseveres against the odds, knowing there is a way out, even when they can’t yet see it. It is the one who wants to bust out of all the restraints and rules, dogma and doctrine dumped on you by a fearful world.
If you think about it for just a minute, you might be able to remember a moment or two or three, when the True You showed up.
It might have been during a tragedy when you found your way to higher ground. Maybe when you reached out in kindness to someone hurting. It likely showed up when your heart burst with love after looking at your newborn for the first time. How about when you finally valued yourself enough to ask for a raise or set a much-needed boundary with someone?
How about when you are “in the zone” playing some sport, or singing or playing an instrument or doing whatever it is that you do when you feel most at home in your skin.
You will know the True You because it is the best version of yourself. It is the moments you feel proud of yourself. You will feel its strength coursing through your veins or its peaceful demeanor when all is right with the world. It will show up when you feel an unexplained connection with another person or the Universe or nature.
The Truest You also knows you are never alone. It knows that all things are working out on your behalf, even while plodding around in the mud and the muck. It believes in your greatness, even when your mind can’t yet grasp the idea.
The world needs each of us to reach our potential, whether it’s a bucket full of potential or a thimble full. It is fullness either way. The bucket is not better than the thimble, just bigger.
The True Self recognizes the value of everyone they meet…and those they don’t. And it knows this because it knows its own value.
When you start approving of yourself, accepting yourself and loving yourself, the Real You will begin to emerge.
The True Self lives within your depths. Find it, be it, love it. It will love you back! It will never do you wrong. And, finally, you will always belong!
Featured photo credit: xvire1969 via imcreator.com