The art of winning your own approval II
In my last column, I discussed how, as children, it’s easy to come to rely on the approval of others. As adults, you continue the pattern, even thought it doesn’t work well for you any more. Today I’m giving you some tips about how you can move from pleasing others to winning your own approval.
Approval-seeking usually occurs because you fear some consequence. You compromise your own values and integrity to avoid (real or imagined) rejection, anger, dislike or accusation. You fail to tell the truth about what you really want for yourself. You give your power away by allowing people to cross your boundaries. Well, it’s time to learn to take it back.
You can’t speak your truth unless you know what it is. Identifying that truth is a skill in itself. It requires focusing on your inner process by becoming quiet, sitting still, centering, and perhaps journaling.
Developing your “truth-telling” capacity is a little like weight training. When you want to build muscle, you start with lighter weights and work up. It’s the same with speaking your truth.
So start with something easy and light. Practice by saying no to a trusted friend: “I won’t go with you to the party because I need a night to be by myself.” Work up to a more challenging situation, such as staying away from a family gathering because the family verbally abuses you.
If someone asks you to do something, and you’re not sure you want to, don’t automatically say yes. You can buy time instead. A simple, “I’ll think about it and get back to you tomorrow,” can give you the time necessary to “feel into” your truth about what you really want to do. It also gives you time to plan how you’ll say no.
Allow others the freedom to have their feeling reaction – to like or dislike you, to agree or disagree with you. This takes courage. You don’t need to protect yourself from reactions that haven’t even happened yet. Remember that others’ reactions are not about you.
Banish the thought that you have become selfish if you say no and choose to please yourself instead of someone else. When you first begin to set boundaries and limit others’ influence over you, you will inevitably feel selfish. Trust me, you’re not! Think of it instead as having respect for yourself.
Refuse to feel guilty. When others make demands on your time, your talents, your energy, your money or your emotions, you have the right to draw your boundary very clearly.
Attend CoDA (Co-dependents Anonymous) meetings in the area.
Read Non-violent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg. This book gives you an excellent way
to speak your truth without pointing the finger of blame or accusation toward others. Join a Non-violent Communication (NVC) group in the area for support n learning the communication patterns in the book.
Ultimately, the work comes down to your willingness to stare your fear of rejection, anger and accusation in the face. Once you’ve looked squarely at the fear, resolve to take the above actions anyway. When you do, you build some self-approval muscle. It gets easier with more repetitions.
The fastest path to the other side of fear leads straight through it!