Sunday, 1 September 2013

How to get off that roller coaster of approval

Think of a roller coaster..only this one is different.. once you've boarded it there's no getting off.. it just keeps going and going stopping.
That relentless, tumultuous clattering going round and round, up and down, our hearts in our mouths one minute, then that sinking heaviness as we suddenly dip uncontrollably downwards. 
This nightmare reminds me of the futile cycle of seeking the approval of others.  This is especially true when the approval is sought from family members and loved ones.
Like children we present our best picture from school with baited breath and a fluttering anticipatory excitement in our tummy.  We wait to hear the response while searching for the glee and pride to spread across the face of our loving parent -  but nothing.  
Down we dip...lower and lower.
This sequence of events can be carried from our childhoods up into our adult relationships; so unless we learn how to stop the out of control roller coaster we are destined for a life filled with perpetual attempts to do the "right" thing, in the hope that we finally gain that elusive seal of approval from our loved one(s).  
Right now is the time to take back control of the choices you are making. Start doing what you want for your own fulfilment, and sense of well-being.  
No hidden agenda.  
No niggling thoughts of how this will be perceived by those you have being trying to please or gain approval from.  
Live your life from your unique view.  Take steps every day to do things that make your heart sing and leave you feeling uplifted.  Live the life you are here to live. 
Making choices based on the invisible belief we might get a pat on the back from someone is a waste of two priceless attributes - energy and time.  We want to preserve both of those things, and I'd rather use my energy and time doing things that engage, challenge, stimulate and uplift.  
We can only be accountable to ourselves for ourselves.  By genuinely being ourselves there is a certain inevitability that we will please others - it just might not be your parents or loved ones.  
However, if your improved health and the ability to step off the relentless roller coaster is the result then I encourage you to start making your plans now! 
"A truly strong person does not need the approval of others any more than a lion needs the approval of sheep." - Vernon Howard
"Most fears of rejection rest on the desire for approval from other people.  Don't base your self esteem on their opinions." - Harvey Mackay


  1. This is such a tough topic, particularly as I'm now able to hear so much criticism from a family member who suffered a brain injury. The result is that so much of that approval I sought as a kid that was then balanced out in an adult relationship has now become unsettled again under the strain of so much straight and unfiltered talking. All the more reason to become self approving!

  2. Wow, that is a tricky situation - it certainly does highlight the importance of not being pulled in, or pulled down by the opinion of others! Thanks for the comment Jules :-)

  3. I'm sure many of us are doing this approval-seeking thing in very subtle ways, even when we think we're not. I certainly was, and I would have been shocked to have realised it - I couldn't see it because it was functioning at a very deep level, a level which I didn't really even know was there. People in our culture often seem to think that the kind of thing you're suggesting is 'selfish', which to me is an indication of how mixed up we are about it all.

    I was listening in the car the other day to David Whyte talking about a Mary Oliver poem called 'The Journey', and he was talking about how it sounds selfish to leave the house and walk out in search of your own larger life... but that the line in the poem which talks about 'walking deeper into the world' indicates that it's actually the opposite.

    Your situation sounds quite shocking and difficult, Jools..