Sometimes I wonder if we are aware of how much approval we crave from our peers, our friends and our families and, ultimately, how this seeking can be our undoing. How much of our satisfaction is based on the responses of others, instead of coming from our own soul and spirit?
At times, I catch myself, more than I’d like to admit, sharing a personal achievement, a moment of elation, and instead of focusing on that pure moment of celebration, I’m more aware of how the listener is responding rather than how I feel. I am noticing their words and actions. I am out of my own body. I am judging their thoughts and behavior as inadequate (why didn’t they reciprocate with a high-pitched, dork-tastic YAY?). I come to the conclusion that they are not happy for me or they don’t understand.
We can ask ourselves: do I have unrealistic expectations of others? Do I truly need others’ approval or affirmation? Am I filling an empty jar of others’ applause instead of my own?
Sure, who doesn’t want some appreciation from the ones they care about? We can treasure it but ultimately it should not negatively color our own sense of accomplishment nor the true hearts of others.
Giving yourself the kindhearted acknowledgement that you deserve is a steady process of care, self-love, commitment and patience. This part of us, hoping for more Facebook likes and pats on the back, is not truly a present part of us unless we allow it to be. I spent years seeking the validation of others because I never received it from the two people I thought mattered most.
Four weeks ago, my grandmother passed away and, at the funeral, I saw my mother for the first time in four years. I saw her clearly for the first time: a sad, fragile woman who was not capable of filling anyone’s jar, let alone her own.
I saw myself clearly for the first time too. A woman who is struggling but growing more aware and empathetic towards the world around her, including those who don’t have pats to give.
Wounds took shape from my childhood and left scars that still echo through my being. Scars leave their mark. I choose to let them be part of me, only they are not indulged any longer. They are not kept hidden in the shadows, along with other ego-self creations. They are recognized, accepted and no longer fed by fear—which is how I now experience my mother.
I know that I am an individual with many lights, darks, cracks and those rippling scars—they make me a complete person. And for that, I give myself a pat on the back.