PRACTICAL WISDOM
By James Westly

Releasing Our Need for Approval

By James Westly


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Who is more important? The facade we project into the world, or the inner being that works so hard to support that facade? The metaphysical "right answer", of course, is the inner being. Yet, even though we may "know" the "right answer", the question remains, are we able to live that answer?

We each were taught to seek the validation and support of others, to value their opinion of us, to even try to "figure out" what it would take to receive their approval. It began as infants, seeking our parent's conditional love, then our friends conditional support, then our teacher's conditional grades, then finally, our boss's conditional paycheck. Even when we become seekers of Enlightenment, what we inevitably seek is our teacher's conditional approval. We want to know the "right" answer, ask the "right" question, perform the technique correctly. What we're neglecting is the inner being.

What is clear from the above is that the inner being has spent its lifetime working to meet the needs of the others in its environment, and hasn't a clue, or at least is ill informed, concerning its own needs. The cosmic comedy of this all is that we all are doing it. Put a group of ordinary people in a room together, and what they all are doing internally is "figuring out" how best to receive the acceptance and approval of the others. Hardly any one of us is in touch with who we truly are. We're all working diligently to maintain that "lookin' good" facade.

Since this has been a life long process, we must consider that it is major work to reverse it, and it will take a while to accomplish the job. There will also be some resistance. Old habits do not extinguish easily and this is a complex process which operates unconsciously, so to see it in action is a major revelation in itself.

When we attempt to dismantle the facade, the first obstacle we encounter is that the facade is who we thought we were, and how can we go out in public without our clothes? Worse yet, since we've spent a life time constructing and ornamenting something that is not us, but living all the time in the illusion that this is who we are, we're faced with a huge empty space where our identity once was, an existential dilemma severe enough to daunt even the strongest psyche.

Most of us, though, will find some hints lurking in the dusty corners of our soul. It may lie hidden in the memory of some childhood pursuit, or in a hobby or a past time. Most of us arrived in this life with a gift or two, some talent or proclivity, the pursuit of which gives us joy. It may not be anything world shaking, but what ever it is, it comes to us naturally and gives us pleasure. Often we were advised, when young, that this interest was of little or no value in the world, and we would be better off not pursuing it. Perhaps it wasn't "cool", or it didn't fit in with the future planned for us by our elders. Maybe our spouse doesn't approve.

From this we come to see the need to release our addiction to the validation of others, and the need to locate our inner guidance and listen to it. It is there, within each one of us, we've all heard its voice, but are we listening, and do we have the courage to act on what we hear?

 


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