Approval Addiction: How to Un-Junky Yourself.

I was going to take a day off from writing, but what I’m finding since I’ve begun this journey is that this form of writing is somewhat addicting. The good kind of addiction, the kind that feeds your soul instead of stealing from it. The kind that nourishes your spirit and your mind instead of sucking it dry. Yes…the good kind of addiction.

But, while I’m experiencing this nourishment and enrichment of my mind and soul, I am well aware of the counter part – the other addiction, the bad kind… the addiction to pleasing others and gaining approval from well, you. This is a very bad kind of addiction. And one that I know unfortunately, many if not most of us struggle with daily.

Personally I have experienced this desire, this need for approval destroy many dreams, many creative expressions, and many individual personality traits because they weren’t accepted. What I continue to fight against on a regular basis is pushing through that stifling force that so badly wants me to tone down, scale back, and fluff up my truest self.

Honestly, due to years and years of learning to be some other way, it’s more a matter of unlearning at this point. Unlearning the feeling of shame and instant regret when I tell the truth, when I say what I really feel or really want. Like when I’m asked “How are you?!?!” And saying “Good! And you?” When really I feel like shit for yelling at my kids that morning and not giving them the same emotional recognition that I so desperately need. In short, unlearning that to have needs means to be needy, as if that is something defiling in and of itself.

It’s an epidemic. Honestly. What makes it so hard though, you see, is that we’re so conditioned to be this way – this way of, “be happy cause if you’re not, well no one will like you” type of thing – that we don’t generally know how to respond when someone is honest about how they’re doing. Admit it. If you ask someone how they’re doing and they tell you honestly, how do you feel? How do you respond? Freeze? Run? Change the subject? Placate? If you do any of these, that doesn’t make you bad, it just makes you “normal”.

Being truthful isn’t normal.

And this is sad. That’s the truth.

Even as I write this I’m fighting the urge to pep it up – “Geez Lisa, don’t be so depressing.” Wow. I really am conditioned, aren’t I. But truthfully, being honest isn’t depressing at all. It’s freeing. That feeling you get when you share yourself with someone, trust them enough to let them in and find that you’re not alone. That is freeing. That is connection.

While we’re working so hard to say the right things we are slowly (or rapidly in some cases) increasing the space between ourselves and others. Disconnection. And disconnection equals isolation equals depression. So, in fact, being honest about how you really feel, what you’re truly experiencing – this is the opposite of depressing. It is healing.

While spreading this message to the masses in effort to create global acceptance, support, and genuine affection might seem daunting, you can spread this message to yourself. Continually. And it is a continual process because as we discovered earlier, this type of being still isn’t “normal”.

So, be prepared, in your honesty and authenticity you will be faced with strange looks or disapproving glances or just plain silence. But, if you’re speaking your truth, being your truth, for you not them, then you will still be free.

Freedom from approval addiction comes when you approve of yourself,
not when you’ve successfully won over everyone else.

Do it for you. And I will do it for me.

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