I will always maintain a positive presence in your life and lean into your world so I can be of service. But I must not try to fit into what you want me to be. Others cannot define what brings me happiness & fulfillment. Others can guide me and I them, but we are careful to not meddle in each others pursuit of happiness. I will find, through my own experiences, who wishes to bite and who wishes to embrace – I will have scars that will never leave, reminding me that my pursuit was mine alone and belongs to the part of my spirit which you can never take away.
I am someone who struggles daily with a seemingly unending quest for the approval from others. I have at times been so utterly confused that I needed this heavy reliance on others, I had no direction and needed someone, anyone, to push me out into the world. It is an unsettling feeling to say the least; To know in your heart that you are living a just life yet still desperately need someone to pat you on the head and say, “Good job, Rhett!”
Part of me understands that this behavior is sticking around because I practiced it for much of my life – it is hard to let go of something that kept you going for so long. The difference today is that I no longer need the approval of others, and I can say that with confidence. What I can’t say with confidence is that I no longer want the approval of others, I absolutely want the approval of others.
The approval I seek has nothing to do with the way I express myself creatively, the way I write, the people I am friends with or anything else that occurs throughout my day. I seem to want approval that I am living life according to everybody else’s plan – I want you to tell me that I am following the guidelines well, and I don’t want you to be disappointed in me. I want to be perfect, yet I don’t know how to do that. It often leaves me confused, just begging for a word of encouragement, “You’re doing great Rhett, keep meeting my expectations and you’ll be just fine.”
This type of behavior is out of line with my beliefs and practices. I have faith in my efforts, I have proof that my actions bring positivity into the world, yet I am still left wanting, and I think I know why! For much of my life I have had to look to others for answers, for direction. It wasn’t necessarily that they had the finest answers, it was that I had none. What I fail to recognize is that today I do have answers, or at least I have solutions that have proven to work for me. I don’t need to look too far to recognize the impact I have made on people and the impact I have allowed others to make on me. My life is different then yours, and I need to come to terms with this.
I tend to put people in unfair situations, basking in their perceived wisdom while they are only trying to make it through to the next day. I want more than people can give, and this is where I find my self-centered ways at their height. I ask people for approval who are not necessarily interested in taking the time to give it to me and further do not actually know enough about me to make any significant judgment.
So, how do I rid myself of this unflattering and destructive behavior? I practice honest reflection to the best of my abilities, I do not hide anything from myself. I take action towards goals I have set for myself and then take more action. I do not tell people what I have done, they must see it for themselves – I must see it for myself! I have to stop believing that other people will always agree with what I want out of my day – I must understand that my way towards happiness and fulfillment does not need to align with anyone else’s, it only needs to mind its own business.
I have to stop putting myself in the center of things pretending all the while that I am only being self-aware. I cannot continue asking people if they approve of my actions, for I know the value in my actions and the weight that my word carries. This is not to be mistaken as a detachment from people or as a way to practice my vices in solitude. This is my way of alleviating others from the weight of my indecision.
I have a new perspective that allows me to recognize that everybody is entitled to their opinion and it is up to me if I will let that be a distraction in my pursuit of happiness. Sometimes it is just good practice to remind yourself that this is your life, not anybody else’s. Too many times have I rushed myself through the day believing that if I behaved in just the right way I would finally be able to gain the approval from others. But in this pursuit I never sought the approval of myself – I was selfish, to be sure, but I did not have my best interest at heart.
So I am left with the knowledge of who I am, or at least the clearest picture of myself that I have ever had. I am left feeling confident and happy, relaxed and focused. I am left knowing that there are parts of my life that I need to stop trying to control – areas where I need to release the harness and let my grip loosen. I picture a horse being released from the weight of a carriage, dashing across an open field. This letting go does not restrict us, it allows us to see the world with intensity and a focused rhythm.
The question that I ask myself at the end of each day is simple, “Have I been a meaningful person today? Am I willing to make right the wrongs I committed today?” When I can answer yes to these questions I can stop looking out the window for approval. I can rest, knowing that the design of my day is not my design at all – my actions blaze forth a path that lead to fulfillment. Today you cannot question my actions and my heart, and I cannot question where I end up. I strip myself of pride and self-centeredness and plunge boldly into the day only focusing on taking the next right action, knowing that the outcome is never mine to arrange.