The Portal to the Other Side of Insecurity is Self-Approval

woman in blue dress shirt wearing black hat

Self-Acceptance is Love. Self-Approval is POWER.

And I’m not talking about the second-rate kind of power that dominates others to compensate for hidden insecurities. I’m talking about the kind of power that comes with a utility bill. The ELECTRICITY that runs through your very being as your essential Lifeforce.

So many of us are wired with an external orientation. We constantly seek approval from others – usually without even realizing we’re doing it. “People-pleasing” behaviors aren’t even about actually pleasing the other, so much as an effort to avoid their disapproval.

But what if you could be your own standard of what’s acceptable? What if your own approval is all you need to proceed with whatever you’ve gotta do?

My friend, Self-Approval will set you free. But it’s often a harrowing journey away, and I just want to say right here:

Give yourself permission to be bad at it.

Here’s what my own meandering path has looked like…

When Self-Improvement becomes Self-Harm

I’ve had a lifelong drive for personal growth and development. Turns out it’s a trauma response to the same wound that produced my insecure attachment patterns.

I was conditioned to believe that love is something to be earned. (It’s not true, though. Love is an abundant resource, as available as air or water or sunlight is to everyone.) This notion was mainly conveyed by my dad; Mom was more of a free spirit.

Dad wasn’t a harsh or unloving parent, he was just passing on the values that he was taught. And in his best efforts to love me and prepare me for the world as he saw it, I grew up with a normalized sense of inadequacy.

I am always observing things that are less than ideal – mostly in my own experiences – and searching for ways to improve them. With the added bonus of an excessive sense of personal responsibility, it’s usually myself that I am trying to improve.

By my mid-thirties, as I was trying desperately to achieve a big goal, and doing everything I could to make myself into whatever was necessary to accomplish my aim, I finally started to crack open.

It began with the gentlest little tug on my pantleg from my inner-child. When I finally noticed her trying to get my attention, I leaned in closely to hear her quietly inquire:

“When do I get to be enough?”

Oof. That hit me hard. I realized that all my efforts to change and improve and develop myself had become distinctly unloving. I took a huge step back and set everything down for a while.

The gift of Impermanence

One thing I discovered was that I had a fear of stagnation. I was afraid that if I stopped pushing myself to grow, that I would just become a complacent zombie and rot away.

But I also knew that the one constant in Life is Change. So I realized that the people who I perceive as zombies, who never change or grow, are actually RESISTING Change.

Well, immediately, I knew that I would never do that (not on a large scale, anyway). And that’s when I saw that what I was doing was effectively trying to FORCE Change (which is just another form of Resistance).

And then it dawned on me: I don’t need to force change; Life will continually present opportunities for Change and Growth. All I need to do is stay open to the Flow!

*Aaahhhh* (angels sang, clouds parted, bliss pervaded)

And that was my first big step towards easing up on myself.

The Gifts of Imperfection

(Thank you, Brené Brown, for such a heart-warming guide to self-love and empowered compassion.)

After 4 decades of Growing, I’m finally starting to settle into myself and “accept the things I cannot change” about me. I’ve had ample courage to change what I could of myself, and I’m finally gaining the wisdom to discern what’s baked in, what’s still malleable, and what’s not worth the effort.

In some ways, we are well served to always keep growing, but there also comes a point at which we’ve got to acknowledge that we’re pretty much GROWN. That’s it. This is Me. Not all wounds can be healed in one lifetime, and at this stage, it’s just a matter of refinement.

As an example, one of my “flaws” that I’ve finally accepted is what I call my chronic dyspunctuality. I’m not time-oriented, I’m task oriented, and my brain doesn’t process time the way that punctual folks do. It has taken me a long time, relentless attempts at every trick in the book, and a respectful distance from popular opinion about this pattern, to accept that this is just a part of who I am, and it doesn’t make me a “bad” person.

Instead of resisting and working against it (and myself), I’ve designed ways to work AROUND it. One of the best ways would be to relocate to a culture with a time-orientation more aligned with mine. But, in lieu of that, I just don’t get involved in jobs, friendships, or activities that require punctuality.

Setting your own standards

Another thing I’ve gained with experience is trust in my own set of proven principles and core values.

There is a part of my brain that habitually and subconsciously checks my choices against external approval. This has a tendency to be significantly disempowering.

However, rather than employing a common form of self-abandonment that seeks to squash unwanted behaviors and the parts of ourselves that drive them, I have learned to simply retask these pieces of me for something more aligned with my values and goals.

Consequently, my Approval Checker aspect has undergone a reassignment from external approval seeking, to INTERNAL approval seeking! Whenever I catch myself shrinking or hiding or contorting myself in doubt or concern about external approval, I just ask myself whether *I* approve of it.

I’ve shifted away from all judgments of “Good” or “Bad”, and neutralized them with assessments in terms of pure Alignment. Is it aligned with MY Values and Goals and Limits? That’s all that really matters. And sometimes it’s not aligned, and I do it anyway – because Self-Approval.

Self-Approval goes beyond Self-Acceptance

As I stated at the beginning, Self-Acceptance is Love, and Self-Approval is Power.

In fact, Acceptance is the purest form of Love. But it’s just a form of acknowledgement. It is truly seeing something or someone, without denying what is, or scrambling for anything to be different in that moment.

Approval, on the other hand, is a big, fat, juicy YES to a thing.

In all honesty, even though I am coming more fully into Acceptance for all my pieces, I might never approve of every one of them. But that’s not the point of Self-Approval.

Self-Approval is your compass. It’s how you become the master of your Life. It grants YOU the power to be the decider in your own decisions. And it’s how you become your own source of permission to be your truest, most unabashedly authentic, radiant self.

Published by lovecoachmariya

Empowering compassion and nurturing self-love, I offer support to women on their journey of becoming secure in love and shifting from push & pull to peace of mind.