"Instead of seeking for applause on the outside, look for the cause of its absence inside."
A great joy can be experienced when we receive approval from the people around us. This can be moments when we receive praise from our boss for the work we have done, or a compliment from our friends about our beautiful or handsome appearance, or an acknowledgement from our parents for being a great person, and so forth.
When these moments happen in our life, we can feel "worthy" of being loved.
However, when we become attached to the need to be approved by others, we can end up on a path of suffering. We can begin to do do things out of the subconscious desire for other people's approval, for instance, pursuing fame, trying to be as fashionable as possible, trying to be as likable and so forth. This is not saying that doing these things are bad, but when done out of a need for approval, it can lead one down on a path of unhappiness.
In this article, we will explore the attachment to the desire for approval from others, and how to transform and release it for greater happiness.
Approval In Depth
From the outside, doing things to make ourselves gain more applause in life can be seen as Self-Improvement, and as such, it can be perceived as a beneficial thing.
However, when the desire to improve is driven by the attachment for the need to be approved by others, then this can lead to the experience of negativities within because the attachment will be caused by the fears of being rejected by others.
So, how do we know if we have become attached?
Some good questions one can ask to gain insight:
"Can I be happy with myself as is?"
"Can I be happy without a reputation?"
"Can I be happy without money?"
"Can I be happy without makeup?"
"Can I be happy by being honest all the time?"
"Can I be happy if other people reject me?"
"Can I be happy just being me?"
Asking these questions will help one to realize just how much of a need one has to be approved by others. Most often, we will all have attachments to the need for other people's applause in one degree or another.
And the attachment is there because of a lack of Self-Acceptance we have towards ourselves.
So the key to being happy with oneself is to learn how to accept yourself for who you truly are.
Importance Of Addressing Approval
The need for approval will always lead one down on a path of suffering.
It can make us feel "unsuccessful" and "unworthy."
It can make us feel worthless when we cannot fulfil other people’s expectations—or our own expectations—of ourselves. For instance, when we fail in getting a “good job”, when we underperform, when we have let our parents down, and so forth.
Do you often feel like you are not good enough?
When we need approval from others to be happy, it is a sign that we lack approval from ourselves. When we lack such love for ourselves, we can easily fall into the belief that people have abandoned us because of our failures. This belief often will not reflect reality truthfully, because the negative reality we experience will always be driven by our negative states of the mind. The people may still love us, but our own disapproval of ourselves can lead us to imagine that we've been abandoned by them.
Thus, when we cannot accept ourselves unconditionally, it will create the reality (from our imagination) that others will judge us in the same way.
Do you often feel like people have abandoned you?
Thus the issues of approval can create confusion within where the reality is run by the imagination.
The unconscious need for approval can also drive us into a path that is not us, compelling us to do jobs that we do not like, being in a relationship with someone too soon or for the wrong reasons, doing and owning things just for the sake of gaining other people's approval.
Do you often do things to fulfil other people's expectations of you?
Path Of Creator
Approval In Relation To The Path Of Creator
The Journey of Self-Transformation is not about constructing a “Perfect Self” for everyone to admire and acknowledge. The journey is about developing Self-Acceptance, to reach a state where we can be in a state of contentment and acceptance towards ourselves for who we are without the need for approval from others—a state where we can approve ourselves in every moment, even in moments of failure.
This is how we can move forward on the journey towards greater happiness.
At The Idea Level
As all forms of Sufferings are created by Negative Ideas (Ideas which promote the Rejection of The Self), let us look at the theme of Negative Ideas that are often connected with the issues of Approval.
A Possible Negative Idea
"It is not ok to be unique/strange"
->I reject myself and others when I am/they are unique/strange
→ There will be fear when I appear unique/strange because it is not ok.
For the mind which carries this declaration, the person will tend to not show the more unique side of themselves in fear of being judged.
The journey of developing Self-Acceptance is about transforming the Negative Idea from "It is not ok to be unique/strange" -> "It is ok to be unique/strange"
The transition towards the positive declaration can slowly happen through learning to express our thoughts and emotions more openly and honestly with our loved ones, or with less intimate acquaintances if that is easier.
Often the lack of approval from others exists only in the imagination, fueled by the lack of acceptance we have towards ourselves, so through honestly expressing ourselves to others, it will allow one to gain real experiential insight to see whether or not one's fears are justified.
And whatever the result one may gain from such an experience, the experience will always prove itself to be enlightening and transformative. Because say, if the Other Self does really reject us, then the experience will present an opportunity for one to develop even greater Self-Acceptance and unconditional love.
If one finds what was imagined turns out to be untrue, i.e. that people actually love us, then it can be transformative too as the experience will help motivate one to let go of the unnecessary fears and imagination within.
After the negative idea is transformed, one will no longer care about other people's perception of oneself. The Self would have accumulated the wisdom that when we express ourselves, it is not so much about doing it “correctly”, but rather it is about doing it “truthfully”—i.e. learning to just be ourselves.
The journey is balanced through moving also towards the opposite declaration—"It is ok to be ordinary"
Develop Experienced Knowledge
Every time when you feel that people are "disappointed" at who you are, or when you feel like a failure, simply ask yourself the question—
“Why do I think that they are rejecting me?”
And then simply realize that this is a reflection of what you are rejecting about yourself.
So you can ask the following question to explore it even deeper—
“What is it that I do not accept about myself?”
And look within for the answers to help you refine The Self-Knowing even more.
The Creator's Meditation / VipassanaLink here
The Creator’s Meditation is a practice that will help one to place their focus on themselves rather than others.
To catalyze the development of such focus, one can simply focus on the practice of being aware of each part of the body as they do the body journey instead of focusing on one’s wandering thoughts.
Know and Transform The Self!
Use the 10 Day One-Self Catalyst to develop Self-Acceptance at the deepest level of the mind. This will help you to know what it is that you are truly rejecting in yourself and others. Once you can accept yourself and others for who they are, then you will no longer feel the need for approval from anyone.