It can be easy to become influenced by voices that don’t get what you’re trying to do. People who don’t approve of you or your work, will always try to discourage you. Once you make your mark, you’ll attract erasers. People who are intimidated by your prime will always try to shorten it. Maybe there are people who drain your energy by constantly demanding you to justify the choices you make, to explain yourself to them so that they can argue with you.
By all means spend some time explaining your why, but don’t lose sleep over the fact that they don’t listen and don’t approve of it. Whatever you do, don’t change the way you’re doing it because of them. They don’t really care and they don’t matter to the work you are doing. They provide an excuse to quit. Don’t let it be that. Don’t let the desire to have your work approved drive the work itself. If that was what drove the greatest minds in history, the world would look very different and we would probably still be living in caves, or extinct. Do you approve of yourself or do you seek the approval of others?
When we lack confidence and in particular have a low understanding of our worth, we find ourselves needing the approval of others to feel good about ourselves. Unfortunately, in this day and age of being over worked and under valued, the approval of others may take years to come or never will. Saying “well done” or “thank you” doesn’t seem too common in language in modern society, and how often do you say such things to others? Being self critical is an easy habit to get into, and forms the basis of our needing approval from others. The root of our self-criticism is usually being at the receiving end of criticism from others as we grow up. I like the expression that “criticism is negative feedback badly delivered”.
Constantly receiving messages like “you’re too slow/stupid/bad/ugly/…” etc leads to us believing that this is a reality. And language like “don’t do that” “why did you….” “you shouldn’t have” “you always” “you mustn’t” doesn’t exactly help a child feel good about themselves. Every expression is a sign of disapproval, so it’s not surprising we grow wanting that approval from others. Comparing ourselves to others is another way we end up being critical of ourselves, as we usually find ways we don’t match up. This perpetuates our own self-disapproval. If you must compare, find positive things in the process and use your comparison to grow not to shrink yourself. Even if you find yourself with role models you are trying to emulate, there will be aspects of their personality, perhaps particular skills or attributes that you already have but they don’t possess. We all have a special fingerprint and God carefully made us all unique for a reason.
Identify situations where you find yourself seeking the approval of others. Is it with particular people, boss, parent, in particular environments, workplace, home, social? Is there any reason you can identify why this should be, why you’re leaving yourself vulnerable to their moods and frustrations? Whether or not you can find reasons for your seeking approval, start getting in the habit of getting approval solely God and from yourself. One easy way to challenge such thinking, is to remind yourself that most people are quite self centered and will speak from their own perspective and opinion of who you should be based on their own beliefs. The problem with this perspective is that they have completely travelled a different path to you, which led them to this train of thought process which doesn’t make it 100% accurate to your situation or even the truth. It is flawed. In the same way you spend most of your time full of self talk, worrying about you, other people are not as concerned about you as you think. They’re mostly concerned about themselves.
The bottom line is while you’re worried about others opinion or approval of you, they probably haven’t given you any thought at all. Like you, when they’re thinking about other people, it’s mainly in relation to themselves. None of us know what anyone else is thinking. Whether or not they’ve even noticed you or what you have done, you may never know. So why beat yourself up about it?
Seeking approval of others and listening to the opinions that don’t resonate with you is detrimental to your happiness. People who ignore their own identity and instead choose to act on the preference of other people never find their true calling or purpose in life. They become the puppets of this lifetime in control by whomever they hand the strings to. This happens because other people do not know your deepest needs and desires, so they cannot help you find your life’s purpose. Almost everyone seeks approval of others on some level, mainly because we were trained to do so since our childhood. That’s what all educational systems and many other institutions and traditions teach us.
If we behave well, our parents are happy with us. If we do what our teachers tell us to do, we are rewarded with good grades. If at work we do our best, the managers are happy with us. Everything seems to be based on the obedience model and bound to someone else. So when there is no defined model to follow, it seems like something is missing. And we automatically start seeking approval to check if we are doing everything okay. We find gurus and other intelligent people and seek their approval. But you should realize that sometimes you’ll have to create a path instead of following someone else’s. If every decision you make is based of another person’s ‘yes’, you will lose your own sense of direction in life and end up on their path unequipped. If you blindly follow others, you will not be happy. Sometimes you will have to be the first that ever did it. If you firstly try to consciously disregard such critics, it will be hard, but with time, it will be increasingly easier to not care what others think about your choices when you completely free yourself from the approval-seeking mode.
This is not how your story ends.
W| By Steve Whyte @IAmSteveWhyte #SWInspires