Are You Seeking Advice or Approval?
Sometimes we ask for advice from people we trust because we genuinely want a to see a different perspective. However, many times we ask for advice because we don’t want to run the risk of making a decision completely on our own. This typically stems from a fear of failure and/or a fear of disappointment (two sides of the same coin…). In any case, this fear inevitably leads to approval-seeking.
Making a decision on our own means you are 100% accountable for the outcome. If you’ve not yet decided to take accountability for your life, making a decision on your own can feel terrifying.
The Answers You Seek Are Inside of You
Naturally, most of us fear getting an outcome we don’t want. We judge potential outcomes as positive or negative, then often spend a lot of time ruminating over the worst case scenario. Perhaps we seek advice because deep down we want someone to share the blame with us if things don’t turn out the way we planned. Or maybe we ask advice of a parent, older sibling, or mentor because he/she has been a guiding force in our lives for a long time. In many of these cases, the person to whom you are seeking advice may become upset if you choose to do something other than their recommendation.
The longer this dynamic goes on, the more power you give to that individual to believe he/she knows what is best for you. But, Dear Butterfly, only you know what is best for you, deep in your inner-knowing. The answers you are looking for are inside of you, closer than the air you breathe, waiting on you to sit still long enough to get curious. Go within and see the wisdom that has been there for you all along.
Taking Radical Accountability for Your Life
Accepting full accountability for your life means you get to own the benefits and, yes, the consequences of your decisions. Depending on how you look at it, that can be frightening or empowering. In any case, accepting full accountability for your own life is the key to your personal power. Who do you look to for approval, acceptance, and validation? That is the person who has authority over you, unless and until you are willing to take radical accountability for yourself.
Although the advice of those you respect may be extremely important to you, is it possible that you are surveying others to see who agrees with your decision (or not)? Are you seeking their permission because you are afraid of getting judged for making a ‘mistake? Consider this: seeking approval is like raising your hand saying, “Hey, is it okay for me to grow up yet and make my own decisions? No? Okay, tell me what you think I should do and I’ll do it. I don’t want to disappoint you.”
Whose Approval Do You Need?
Many people seek approval from others, then complain that the very person whose approval they are seeking is “controlling”. It is important to know that both thoughts may be true! However, recognize that you only have control over yourself – how you think, how you behave, what you say, and how you feel. You, alone, have to live with the results of your decisions, no matter how much you may want to blame others. You get to determine if you will keep asking for advice or if you are ready to take full accountability for yourself. And you, alone, get to determine when you are comfortable only having your approval.
Imagine you had all the approval you needed to fully live your life on your terms. What would that look like? How would that feel? If you were talking to yourself as you would lovingly talk to a child who was seeking your approval, what words do you imagine she needs to hear from you? Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- It’s okay for you to learn as you go.
- It’s okay for you to relax and enjoy the journey of life.
- It’s okay to be patient, gentle, and compassionate with yourself.
- It’s okay if you make a “mistake”. Everything is happening for your highest good.
- It’s okay for you to trust yourself and take a well-thought out risk.
- It’s okay to let real love in.
- It’s okay to trust the process.
- This situation is temporary. Success is not final… and failure is not fatal.
- You are enough.
- I love you unconditionally, just as you are.
Do you seek anyone’s approval? Is there an underlying fear of being criticized or judged by him/her if you don’t follow their advice? Are you afraid of hearing, “I told you so?” If so, consider what needs to happen in order for you to take your power back. Here’s a hint: think about how you can take accountability for your life choices. Therein lies your power.
May I know that my own approval is the only one I need. I love and approve of myself, and I am enough.