I want you to like me. Really. I want everyone to like me and not only that, to tell me how much they like me. On a regular basis—effusively would be fantastic. Adulation, compliments, atta-girls, gold stars (oooh, how I love gold stars), recognition, attention, love—I love approval in all its sundry forms. I love approval like Carrie loves shoes. I can’t get enough. And that’s the problem.
When I look for approval in others, I only suffer. They just aren’t good enough at it. They don’t give me enough, they don’t say what I want when I want, or I just plain don’t believe them. People suck at giving me approval. I’m really the only one that’s good at it. When I give myself approval, I always get more than enough at just the right time in precisely the way I want. And, if I’m doing my work, I always believe it. Funny thing happens when I count on me for approval—it starts coming from everywhere. I can’t imagine people not approving of me. And if they do, they must not know me—because if they knew me, of course they would adore me.
How do I give myself approval? Basically, I clean up thoughts that get in the way of me approving of myself such as, “I’m not good enough.” and “I need others to validate me.” I call this process of finding all the thoughts on a given topic Clearing My Mental Cluster*&$%. The next step in clearing my approval-seeking cluster is to replace the thoughts that don’t serve me with ones that feel better and importantly, also feel true. I’m not talking about Stewart Smalley positive affirmations here; I’m talking about doing the work to really find thoughts that create a positive mental shift for me. (Thoughts are just the stories we choose to tell ourselves, so why not find better stories to tell?) Could “I am not only good enough, I’m freakin’ awesome!” be as true or more true than not being good enough? Definitely. Could “Others never really validate me, only I can be in charge of that.” be as true as the original? Works for me.
I used to think self-esteem was something I had to seek, that it was something I had to add to myself. Now I know that my esteem is inherent and all I need to do is subtract my crappy cluster thoughts and all that remains is self-respect, love, approval and a giant gold star.