No Need for Approval?

Why Do We Seek Approval?

Most of us are looking to fit in, to be accepted and approved of, aren’t we? The ways in which we seek this are many. And it begs the question: Why?

Even the supposed ‘outsiders’ are seeking approval from others; still belonging to a group, even when looking to be different. They just become members of a group of ‘different’ people. A true outsider, without any need for approval, would be considered alien. A true outsider – who walked amongst us – wouldn’t actually be human.

Coming back to the question of why, once asked, we can easily see that approval is important to us because of our ego driven lives. You only need look at modern TV shows to see striking evidence of the popularity of ego driven approval. Consider Master Chef or similar cooking programs. Once the cook has presented their food to the judges for tasting, we then go through the rigmarole of their food either being praised, or criticised. We love it when the judges praise and praise the beautiful tastes and exquisite blends of flavours don’t we? Oh do they feed or slam the ego’s of those people! It’s sometimes painful to watch. It is addictive programming though.

Approval gives us a good feeling. We feel included and well… approved of!

This ‘feel-good-factor’ does hark back to childhood when we had parents, carers and teachers, tell us how good we were a particular thing; congratulated for creating or sharing, and sometimes for how well we knocked something down, only so we could build it up again. We felt loved and included when we were approved of.

Some will seek this approval all their lives, however, for most, it tends to diminish with age. As we grow older, we become increasingly confident; ever more self-assured. In a way, it’s another one of those things that separates the young, from the old. The young often compensate for this with bravado, arrogance and simple pretence.

When we begin to lose the need for approval our individualism really starts to take hold

Speeding up this process obviously has its advantages. Recognising and understanding approval – as the ego’s need to feel loved and accepted – helps us with this. One thing it’s important to bear in mind though, if we don’t seek the approval of others, our food might actually taste really bad!

Cook musician, writer or gangster, when seeking feedback, for how well you’ve done, it need only be about inclusion. We don’t need to bolster the ego, in such a way it makes the observer cringe, with embarrassment. Save your arrogance and bravado too. If your food – or whatever you do – isn’t up to standard, people will simply not love it enough, to return for more. All the judges need say is: “I love it, can I have some more please?”

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Reaching for Ideals

Ideal:

noun

  1. a conception of something in its perfection.
  2. a standard of perfection or excellence.
  3. a person or thing conceived as embodying such a conception, or conforming to such a standard, and taken as a model for imitation.

Should we seek the ideal? Is being an idealist different to being a perfectionist? The English dictionary defines the idealist as this:

  • Someone who believes that very good things can be achieved often when this does not seem likely to others.

We’re told that perfectionism is a negative

We’re told that wanting perfection, and only settling for this, is something to be avoided. If we believe there’s no such thing as perfect, yet at the same time seek it, we’re certainly going to be wasting a lot of energy.

Alternatively, when we understand perfection – as simply an ideal to strive for – we’re able to achieve our best in any given moment of time. Our efforts may not have been perfect, yet we can be comfortable in the knowledge, we did our best. In this respect we must have a ‘benchmark’ to reach for. There must always be a gold standard.

So whether we like it or not, perfection, is always going to be something strived for. The perfect body, the perfect house, life, car, job, child, marriage, we could go on. The downside of this, will be the negative feelings we’re left with, when we inevitably fall short. We’ll feel frustrated, dissatisfied and unfulfilled when we fail to reach perfection. Eventually we may give up altogether.

With this in mind, only reaching for the ideal, is the objective

Being the best we can be without achieving perfection is the plan. After all, to be perfect would leave us with nowhere else to go; a very dangerous situation indeed. And so in this respect, it’s very sensible for us to see perfection, as unachievable. Thankfully there will always be better to strive for. Seeing this for what it is, gives us room to work harder, even when we know we’ve done our very best.

It’s the knowledge that there is always more that keeps humans striving to move forward. We can always do better. There is always more. A very reassuring fact. This brings me on to the key understanding we must strive for.

At The Freedman College we believe it makes perfect sense for us to be striving for a better understanding of one key element in our lives.

“When we focus our attention on this one key element all other things are found”

If we come back to the examples given of what we seek perfection in for a moment (be it lives, bodies, marriages or houses), all of these things are easily achieved, when we have a clear understanding of this key element. Here it is: The Ideal of Love.

Once we cease – in our misunderstandings and misinterpretations of love – we will stop striving for an unachievable ideal. Because we’re confused about love, we don’t actually know, what we are in fact striving for. For example, we’re told that love is many things. The nonsense of this definition is the very thing causing confusion. If we don’t even know what it is, how can we strive to find it?

When young we often think we’re in love

We confuse the feelings we may have for someone as love. We may feel that we need someone, or that we feel lost without them; that we pander for them, or pine for their attention. We mistake lust and infatuation for love. We must make ourselves aware: Emotions of craving have nothing to do with love. Further to this, we mistake many aspects of fear, for love. We think because we fear losing them that we must love them. Fear of loss is fear of pain. Love is completely devoid of this.

We really only need ask ourselves one thing to know whether we’re in love or not. Here it is: Do I want to empower this person? The true emotion of love is something we’re awarded when we witness the freedom of our loved ones. Anything other than this will never be love and only a poor imitation and illusion of it. 

“To know if our version of love is reciprocal, all we need do, is turn the question around like this: Is this person empowering me?”  

At this stage be sure to have a clear understanding of the word empower. It is not empowerment to need a person and neither is it empowerment to give yourself up to another. Empowerment is when we’re able to lift a person to be a free individual standing on their own two feet who is the best version of themselves they can possibly be at that moment in time.

At the same time – as your empowerment of them – this power sets you free. The more people who have a clear understanding of this the better.

Here is the definition of an ideal love that we believe to be A Basic Human Right:

“Love and the ability to teach it, is wanting and needing to empower your partner and children to evolve into whole human beings who are free of fear, because that process gives you pleasure, freedom from your own fear, and brings you closer to wholeness”

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Wholeness is a calm acceptance of this version of love and that of yourself as a near perfect example of a human being.

Strive for this ideal and all other things will come.