“As long as I’m worshipping other people’s approval, I can never accept myself.” JP Sears
Looking for Approval
I was working with a friend recently and I asked him, “How was your weekend?” and he said, “It was good, I sat on the porch watching my 5 year old daughter ride her bike back and forth in the front yard.” He said with a whimsical smile. Then he continued, “The whole time she kept saying, ‘look at me daddy, watch me daddy‘, she just wanted me to see her doing the same thing over and over.” Immediately I was transported back to my own childhood. I was always desperate to be approved of by my parents and others. Our parents are our first testing ground when it comes to testing the boundaries of our self expression. But the reality is, your parents, even though they may love you, may have been the first people in your life to stop you from being fully yourself. It’s as if from birth we have had a “Like/Dislike” button attached to us and we have become accustomed to conforming our behavior and ourselves in order to get the most “likes”. The thing about approval is that it feels good to be affirmed, and it hurts to be rejected. So why wouldn’t you want to avoid the pain of rejection and disapproval? It may seem much easier to conform instead of to deal with the pain, but the world needs your authenticity, not conformity.
In the Ted Talk below, JP Sears discusses this phenomenon of how most humans behave in a way that they feel is “normal” or most acceptable, instead of embracing their inner weirdo.
Learn why people tend to reactively treat their weirdness as a dangerous liability. Perspectives will be shared on how weirdness is actually one’s greatest asset, serving as a bridge into one’s authenticity. How to take action on finding the courage to say YES! to weirdness will be presented so that more meaning and fulfillment can be encountered by reclaiming the asset of weirdness.
You are Not Going to Please Everyone
The reality is, you will not be able to please everyone all of the time, and trying to would be a lesson in futility. But what if your approach to life was to bring joy to yourself and others around you? I don’t know how many times I’ve seen something that I didn’t “approve” of, but it brought me joy and delight. An example would be watching kids have a fun food fight, or playing in the mud. Sometimes being silly at the wrong time, you might shake your head, but secretly you liked it, or even envied that person’s ability to be so cavalier and carefree.
In the Ted Talk I posted here, JP Sears says something very profound, “As long as I’m worshipping other people’s approval I can never accept myself.” JP continues, “And as long as I can never accept myself, I am never giving anyone else a chance to accept me. When I’m trying to be in an approval based relationship with everybody, it cost me myself.”
I wonder how many people are not living their life’s passion because they are afraid that it will displease someone. It may be their peers, their spouse, or even strangers.
Embracing the Discomfort of Rejection
When I was a child, I loved watching my mom get a perm at the beauty salon inside of JC Penny. I liked the weird chemical smell of the perm treatment, the easy flow of conversation between her and the beautician, and the transformation of my mother’s hair when it was blown out and styled. In 6th grade, I sat behind a girl named Margaret whose long flowing raven locks fell on my desk. While the teacher talked I would play with that glorious hair, rolling my pencil in it mindlessly, enjoying the texture and feel of it in my fingers. Margaret never seemed to mind and I remember thinking that I would love to be a hair stylist one day. However, as I got older, I realized that there was a stigma associated with male hair dressers and so instead of doing something that might have brought me joy, I chose a more traditional path and got into computers.
I’m thankful that my journey has led me to something that I love to do for a living, but I could spend hours creating a list of things that I have avoided because of fear of what other people would think. And I have to wonder, why is it so important for me to have the approval of others at the cost of my own fulfillment and joy? According to JP, we have to be willing to embrace the discomfort of rejection, because rejection will happen. Author Breńe Brown says, “He or she who is willing to be the most uncomfortable is not only the bravest but rises the fastest.”
I was talking to a friend once and he said, “I’m so busy trying to please everyone, I don’t even know what I want anymore or who I am.” Have you ever felt this way? Are you one way at work, and then someone else when you are with your friends? That can be exhausting – and yet, it may feel necessary. While certain situations call for different types of behavior, we should never feel like we can’t be ourselves. So how do you be authentic?
An article on Medium.com list “The 5 Qualities of an Authentic Person“:
- Be true to yourself
- Think Inward, Look Outward
- The way you treat people (kindness and respect)
- Live in the moment and be a great listner
- Open-mindedness and fairness to opportunities and people
I think these are a great start to being authentic, however, life is a journey. I have found in my own life that having a mentor, surrounding myself with people I can trust, and creating safe spaces to express myself are a great way to being authentic.
There are times I still live in fear of rejection, because rejection hurts. But it is part of life and often times, when others reject us, it is not because they don’t like us, it is because they don’t like themselves. If someone was hurt for being silly and then they see you being silly, they may reject that subconsciously because of the fear of pain or rejection. According to Psychology Today, “…when people were lead to believe they had a negative trait, they were more likely to see this negative trait in others. And further, in doing so, they were less likely to think they had the trait themselves.”
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