Approval: the most coveted prize we don’t need. With our family and friends, at work or school, in religious communities or with our neighbors, we’re all driven to seek approval.
Maybe you’re going into a new situation (meeting your partner’s family, or starting a new job) and you’re aware of how much you want the approval of the people you’re about to meet. Maybe you feel like you don’t fully have the approval of a certain person or group in your life, and that weighs on you. Maybe you do have it, but you’re so attached to keeping it, it’s stressing you out.
Back in prehistoric times, we depended on our clan for survival, to the point that social rejection could mean death. Though that hasn’t been literally true for a long time, we still carry around the stamp of that ancient terror, and crave the approval of our peers as though our lives depended on it.
Which they absolutely don’t.
There are some great readings on this in the section below, but some of the key ways out of this place are:
Byron Katie’s book I Need Your Love -- Is That True? has a great deal of radical thinking about the drive to seek approval and how to redirect it. In it, she says:
“Anxiously focusing on the other person, checking for approval or disapproval, leaves nobody at home in yourself, nobody noticing your thoughts or taking responsibility for your feelings. This cuts you off from the source of real contentment. The outward focus also leaves unnoticed and unquestioned the inevitably painful thought that if you have to transform yourself to find love and approval, there must be something wrong with the way you are.” (pp. 39-40, Kindle Edition)
On her website, Katie offers a sample dialogue that she had with a woman who feared her mother’s disapproval, from her book Who Would You Be Without Your Story? Dialogues with Byron Katie.
We gave you lots of options for where to listen to these songs so that you can pick your favorite platform (for example, you might have a membership with one). If you don't have memberships, SoundCloud might be your best bet.