To nurture the wellness of our total organism we perceive certain “needs.” These needs seem native to our humanity. They sway us on both the conscious and subconscious level. Our tendency is to think of them as necessarily a part of our being. Some may be just that, but some can actually be enemies to the spiritual heights we aspire to climb. Such a major stumbling block is our need for approval.
The need for approval is very often stronger than our need for happiness. Indeed, we often make our happiness contingent upon approval. Yet our need for approval can and does destroy our happiness and our love. I am aware of this everyday in my own life. The words, “nice job,” or “way to go,” “he’s good,” “bravo,” a high five or a pat on the back – these are treasured. In fact, they are so treasured that we actually seek them like we sought the gold star or smiley face on our school papers as a child.
Society doesn’t make it any easier on us to forego such approval. From the time we are toddlers just learning to speak or taking our first steps all the way through our schooling and into the job market we thrive on and are compelled to seek the recognition, praise, and acceptance that the approval of others brings. It seems such a good thing that we seldom, if ever, consider the damage it does – especially when we extend it to our relationship with You. And because we are who we are and it is so ingrained in us, we most certainly do seek it. But imagine if, for a day, we did everything we normally do but without seeking any trace of approval in any of it.
If we could learn to base our happiness on simply resting in the acceptance or rejection, the love or the hate, the words or the silence of others – genuine peace and happiness could more easily be possessed. Being happy to be a sheep in Your fold, an equal child of God with all others;this is all quite hypothetical of course since I don’t think it humanly possible (even for the saints among us) to go through a whole day without seeking, in some way (even subconsciously) the approval of others.
So, what can be done? Perhaps the answer is just an awareness of this proclivity in us along with an awareness that Your love and approval is all we need – and we do not have to seek it.