Personal Power and the Search for Approval
To seek approval is one of the key motivating factors that influences all human relationships from the home to the workplace. This dynamic also exists in many creature relationships and the natural world is full of examples of instinctual behaviours that ensure the survival of the individual through approval from the ‘pack’, the collective, parent or partner.
I believe that this trait goes very deep into the human psyche, also to the level of instinct, where we are set up by our surrounding conditions from birth onward to strive for inclusion at some level, for the purpose of attaining love and safety. And if there are some who do not, they are seen as an exception to the rule.
So many of us carry this apparent ‘search’ with us where ever we go, in our beliefs, thoughts and feelings which will colour everything from our dress code to our judgments of self and others.
In my own journey with this search I have found that my need for approval from others has been profoundly limiting of my personal freedom and has at times lead me into the realms of in-authenticity by the very nature of taking me out of my centre and therefore, away from the truth of who I am. As I write this I feel a pang of regret for those misdirected energies I have put into being something for someone else in my life and not allowing myself just to ‘be’.
For this search, I believe, goes deeper even than our instinct for survival and safety. Yes it is a seeking of love, but it is for an unconditional love that we have hungered for since our days began. And if we yearn to be loved unconditionally from the outside world, we overlook our own potential to connect inwardly to the infinite, loving power that we actually embody through living a human life.
We can experience this love while sharing it with others, but if we become dependent on being affirmed by external forces we cannot truly thrive emotionally. It is like looking for love in places of conditionality, and wanting to be given something by another that we have not first given to ourselves, because we have not reached inside to find it.
If however, we choose to actively cultivate this inner connection to love and we finally arrive at a place in our lives where are no longer so dependent on the approval of others to feel good about ourselves, then we will notice a change. It may be subtle or arresting as it dawns on us, but the change will be there and it will be evident in the feeling of personal power – not an egoic power over others but an expansive feeling of life-force rising within – that we may have not have experienced before.
We may notice where we have been bound up in need, and even by developing our awareness of this we enable it to shift. As we release emotional expectations and need from others, we may find inlets of new-found freedoms which collectively add to the mounting flow of energy in us. Intimate relationships become easier when we own our needs for love and we make ourselves transparent so that love can be given and received freely and without expectation.
So much more of life is available to us when we drop the ‘approval stories’ we may have carried for many years and walk empty handed, home to the heart. And this is where I stand at the threshold of 2016, and I invite you with an open heart to reflect on this and see if any of it resonates for you, and if so, then how would you like to create this year, so that you have more choice and freedom about your relationships to everyone and everything you love in life?