This past weekend I was on a retreat in Half Moon Bay with my Divinity Circle, a women’s group that meets monthly. Each year, we take a weekend away to connect more deeply and focus on our intention for the coming year.
It’s so important to step back from our daily lives to think about where to go next.
The intention that came up for me this past weekend was around freedom and being free.
I wasn’t entirely sure what it meant, but every time I’d meditate or pray about my intention, I kept hearing the song lyrics; “cause I’m free, to do what I want, any old time”
(it was hilarious and annoying to try meditating with that song stuck in my head! Maybe my intention should’ve been to be FREE from that dang song! haha.)
Free from the need for approval.
Walking on the beach yesterday, I thought about all the old beliefs and patterns I’d like to be free from. One of the biggest ones is the need for approval.
If I’m really honest, I still want the world to say; “Wow, look what you did Vanessa. You’re so great!”
Every time I show someone a new product or talk about my work, there’s this piece of me that’s still wanting them to tell me how awesome I am.
When I peel back the layers, I see a little girl wanting her parents’ approval. Wanting to be seen for who she really is.
On some level, we’re all searching for the approval we didn’t receive as kids.
We all want to be seen for who we really are.
Maybe you really wanted to be recognized by someone important in your life, a parent or a teacher, and you didn’t get the validation you deeply desired. Or maybe you had a certain gift that really mattered to you, and other people only appreciated or complimented you on the gifts and talents they deemed important.
For example, you loved art or theatre, but were only given approval for your performance on the sports field or in the classroom.
Maybe you didn’t get enough approval.
Or, maybe you got a lot of approval, but it wasn’t for the things that mattered most to you.
Good news – it doesn’t always have to be this way.
In my life, I’ve noticed there’s a deep never good enough quality that seems to follow me wherever I go.
No matter what results I “achieve” in life, this small, persistent voice keeps saying it’s not good enough. Often, I catch myself wanting other people to appreciate my work rather than having an intrinsic sense of self-worth.
One of the women this weekend, Bridgette, told a story of her whole family getting together to build a sandcastle. At first, the adults were joking; “we’re too old to build a sand castle.” But then, they really got into it. Bridgette said everyone just chipped in and did the part they were excited about. One person made tunnels, another collected shells to decorate it, someone else built a water drainage system. They worked individually and as a team. Bridgette was struck by how creative and collaborative the experience was and told me; “If only we could do this at work with my team!” (Read her LinkedIn post about it HERE)
After hearing her story, I thought about how my need for approval is the equivalent of building a turret on a sand castle and then going around to everyone saying; “do you like it? Is it good? What do you think?!”
As I imagined seeking validation for my sand castle building skills, I could feel how utterly ridiculous that would be!
I was able to laugh at myself.
When I build a sandcastle, I’m just having fun. Sure, maybe I’m proud of the end result, but I’m not going around asking everyone to tell me how great my turrets are (that sounds borderline inappropriate). Instead, I simply rest in the joy of having built something I’m proud of and feel good about.
That’s how I would like to feel about my work.
So the next time I notice myself seeking validation, I’m going to think; “SAND CASTLE!”
Now I’d love to hear from you! How do you notice the need for approval showing up in your life? Let us know in the comments below!
If you recognize you’re searching for approval, stop and ask yourself; “whose approval am I seeking?” (mom’s, dad’s, some other important figure in your life?) and; “can I give myself the approval I crave?”
Sometimes, I’ll visit myself as a little girl to tell her what a great job she’s doing.
It only takes a couple minutes to close your eyes and imagine yourself at some tender age when you didn’t get the appreciation or approval you desperately wanted. Then picture the adult you entering that scene and comforting the younger you. You can even write yourself a letter saying how much you approve of all your choices, behaviors and accomplishments! I’ll be teaching this exercise in an upcoming class and will share my own letter when it’s done. 🙂
So today, I hope you can approve of yourself and all you’re doing in the world.
You are amazing. We’re so lucky you’re here.
May you create work and a life you love,
P.S. We have some REALLY exciting news…the Soul Planner is now available as a soft covered journal!!! Woo hoo!!
We had so much interest from people who wanted to buy these as gifts, that we rushed to make the printed copy available before the holidays!
**You must order before December 5th to have guaranteed delivery by December 24th.
I never used to care much about what others thought.
I knew I was happy with myself and didn’t worry about it.
As I’ve gotten older and all my children are grown, and I have many, many grandchildren, I find that I have noticed that I am “ruminating about validation from others”. I don’t want to do this, so I love your ideas.
Thanks for sharing Kayleen. And how wonderful that you were happy with yourself for so many years! It could be interesting for you to get curious about why this is showing up for you at this time when it wasn’t something you experienced in the past. You can ask; “Hmmm…why am I seeking validation in this situation? What does it remind me of?” and see where that leads you. Enjoy the exploring 😉