*Disclaimer: This post is a contradiction in itself. I get that.
“If people refuse to look at you in a new light and they can only see you for what you were, only see you for the mistakes you’ve made, if they don’t realize that you are not your mistakes, then they have to go.” ― Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free
Sometimes you have to put the past away and start fresh. The past few years have been about finding gray, not living in the extremes of black or white. My pendulum has swung from one extreme to the other, and is now finally settling into the middle, in all aspects of my life.
This blog, that I once posted in at least twice a week, has sat dormant now for almost four months. What was once an indispensable part of my life, suddenly felt like an anchor pulling me down. My life has evolved so much over the past two years, and I have grown away from these virtual pages that once defined me. I see so many people, and other bloggers, who keep churning out the same struggles, complaints, and problems, while never seeming to find their way out of the misery. These pages are part of my past, without a doubt, they were the stepping-stones of life that led me here. These pages became chains, and I needed a break to live in the real world, experiencing my own struggles and successes without the need for the constant validation of blogging. It had become time to leave the nest, and fly.
I have still written, just not in a blog. Now I feel a need to start over, to close not only this chapter, but this book, and move on to the next one. I’m quite sure I’m not the only blogger who shares this sentiment. Sometimes we look back at the body of work we have generated, and realize we can’t walk around in it anymore. There comes a time to start fresh. That time for me, is now.
I went from one addiction to another.
Approval addiction had become my need for validation from others in order to feel ‘good enough’ about myself. If I cannot feel good about myself, my creative efforts, my decisions or my life without hearing from those around me, that I am indeed, doing a good job, then I have put myself in a very fucking powerless position. You feel me? (see what I just did there?)
While most of us enjoy appreciation for our efforts, there is a huge difference between a healthy pleasure in compliments, and approval addiction. The first problem with an excessive need to be validated by those around us for everything we do, is that we are relying on something that is beyond our control to make us feel good.
The only way that we can truly feel good about ourselves and our lives is to create our validation within ourselves.
Another issue is that seeking approval from others will never fill the void that is created by a lack of self-approval, and this is where the addiction sets in. Because we are looking to other people to give us what we have failed to create within ourselves, we find that we cannot get enough. No matter how many times our loved ones tell us we are great, or how many compliments we receive, it is never enough, because we can’t absorb what we are greedily seeking.
Let me stop and say, I thing blogging, writing, expressing, all of it, is awesome. I have no regrets. But there comes a time, when I have to see it for what it had become. I was lifted up, and I love you for all of it. Now it’s time to make myself feel the way I became dependent on other people making me feel.
The words of others can be like the icing on the cake of our solid sense of rightness in ourselves, but if we don’t have that cake to start with, no amount of icing is going to do us much good. We have got to approve of ourselves first. If we can create a healthy self-approval, then we will be able to accept both praise and criticism from others, without either being always hungry for more, or feeling shattered.
That right there people, is the trick.
I am realizing that forgiving those I feel withheld approval in my formative years is a vital step in letting go of past hurt, and being able to move forward in a positive direction. This is really, really fucking hard. Forgiveness does not mean agreeing that what was done is right, but rather, accepting that the person concerned did things in the only way they felt able at the time. It is letting go of the hurt and blame that keeps us feeling the pain of our past into the present.
Once I began to recognize that approval addiction was creating a problem in my life, I began to work on creating the approval and validation I needed within myself. I had an epiphany. It is not anyone elses job to make me feel good about myself. I must do this internally. There is no other way.
To begin creating a sense of being good enough without validation from others is a daunting prospect. I have craved approval for years from other people, and once I recognized it, it was downright scary to think of letting go of that need.
Approval addiction became a huge issue in my life. I encourage you to be aware of the pattern, and take courage from the fact that, like any other harmful habit, it can be changed. I believe that if there is anything in your life that you want to change, with belief and commitment, change is not only possible, but inevitable. If we think we can, we can.
We have to let go of who we were, in order to become who we will be.