I was well into my forties before I realized to what extent I was still trying to get the approval of my mother. Now, I haven’t lived near her for thirty years, and she is rarely privy to what I may be accomplishing professionally or in any other area of my life. But one day I realized, as I was sharing something I had done with a mother figure close to me that I was longing for a certain reaction from this woman. I longed for a response that affirmed not so much what I had done, but for a validation that it mattered that I was even here expressing on earth. I was stunned. After a flurry of emotions and self-denigrating interpretations passed through my awareness, I came to the knowing that we are hardwired to want and to even need the acceptance, approval, and affirmation from those around us. It is spiritually correct to say that the only real approval we ever need is the approval that comes from ourselves. While this is at a level true, at another level it belittles the importance of our connection one with each other. It denies the importance we play in the story lines of those we care about. To confuse having needs with being needy is a painful and unhelpful perception.
We all want to be loved, cared for, acknowledged, complimented, and affirmed. While my first reaction to the revelation that I was still wanting mommy to say “hey, you did well” was one of embarrassment and shame, I was later able to open to the deeper truth that this a precious part of our human connection. My mother is not someone that is comfortable lavishing praise, or even speaking the language of acknowledgment or approval. I know where that came from. I knew my grandmother. And so that important aspect of nourishment was largely missing from my youth. I did know well the language of criticism and censor. I still at times feel a wince when I show up in some way that opens me to evaluation. While I would like to believe that I am at this point in my spiritual emergence beyond the need for the good opinion of others, it simply isn’t true. My life is filled with people I love and it matters to me how they see me and the gifts I give in this world. When I express my passionate heart it is nice to be acknowledged. I personally love to praise and uplift people, and I am committed to opening to receive more of that as well.
So while approval seeking is mostly on the list of “need to fix” attributes, I would offer to you that this desire is indicative of how beautiful and important our connection is here in this human experience. Our age of social media demonstrates this perfectly. For anyone that has ever posted something on My Space or Facebook and then gone back in to see how many people clicked “Like” you get my drift. There is an intrinsic need to know we matter. There is an inborn need to be affirmed for who we are and for what we do. We are not robots or aloof, dissociative mountain sitters. We are humans that have hearts that are in need of being touched. We need to hear that we are loved and that life is better because we are here. We need praise. Healthy criticism can indeed be helpful, but it doesn’t go nearly as far as a simple, heart-felt compliment.
I will not be governed or identified by the feedback of outer sources, and I also fully embrace the little boy in me that needs to hear that what I am being and doing is good. I compassion the wince, and I welcome the praise. Your approval matters to me for I am a fellow human and a part of the One. I have a very much alive heart, and it responds well to words that approve and affirm. So go ahead. Send a compliment my way. I won’t deflect. I will take it right in. And know that there is plenty of that coming back at you. Your beauty makes mine a better world, and it gives me great joy to tell you so.