The Approval Trap: How to Free Yourself

“Everybody does not have to like you. That is not their job. Liking you is not anyone’s purpose in life except yours” Iyanla Vanzant.

Do you seek the approval of others?

Do you experience deep emotional pain when you’re rejected by someone you care about or respect?

Congratulations, you’re human.

And as a human you are a social being. For better or worse, this means that we seek the approval of others, often as a way to feel connected with our fellow human beings.

But if we hang our happiness and well-being on the approval of others, this is a sure recipe for a life of disappointment and sadness. Even when we’re fully aware of this, we can easily fall into the approval-seeking trap.

So how can you know whether your sincere attempts at human connection has turned into full-blown approval seeking?

Here’s the main difference:

The desire for healthy human connection is about generosity toward others while approval seeking is about you: your fears, doubts, and anxieties.

When in approval seeking mode:

  • We insist the other person tell us what we need to hear to feel secure.
  • We’re indecisive because we’re afraid to disappoint others.
  • We violate our personal boundaries in order to please.
  • We get angry when others don’t violate their personal boundaries in-kind.
  • We hold grudges, sometimes for years.
  • We’re constantly trying to figure out what others think of us.
  • One well placed criticism is enough to crush our goals and dreams.

How can we fight back against this insidious force?

In his book The Inner Voice of Love, Henri Nouwen writes:

“You cannot give yourself to others if you do not own yourself, and you can only truly own yourself when you have been fully received in unconditional love.”

Furthermore, to paraphrase Nouwen, when we do not own ourselves, manipulation masquerades as generosity.

Truth is, there is nothing anybody can do to make you “own yourself.” The fact that you are here means that you were loved into existence, regardless of the circumstances of your birth or early upbringing.

In every moment, you are being loved into existence–by God, by the universe, by your own body that works tirelessly to keep you alive and well. Knowing that you are loved unconditionally is the first step to freeing yourself from the approval trap.

How to overcome your approval-seeking addiction

Close your eyes.

Put your hands on your heart.

Take a deep breath.

And smile the broadest smile you can muster.

How a Spiritual Blog Spreads Goodness and Fights Evil


Have you ever wanted to share something but thought that maybe what you had to say wasn’t valuable?

Ever had a burning message to deliver but felt afraid to speak?

Do you want to start a blog but just haven’t worked up the courage to do so?

Check out this interview I did with Matthew Loomis of Matthew did a great job helping me dig deep to learn about my motivations for blogging and the challenges I’ve faced.

And if you’re interested in blogging, you’ll learn some tips on how to get off the fence and start your own blog.

You can listen to the entire interview here by clicking on the video above. If you’d rather read the transcript, visit Matthew’s blog for the entire transcript and to learn more about how you can start your own blog.

Hope you enjoy 🙂

How To Love Your Enemies

“Love your Enemies, for they tell you your Faults.” ~ Benjamin Franklin

There is probably someone in your life right now who has power over you.

Just thinking about this person makes your blood pressure rise. You may have a hard time being in the same room with that person. He may have said something to you in the past that really hurt your feelings. She may have done things to undermine, embarrass, or discredit you.

This person is clearly your enemy.

One of the greatest spiritual commands is this: to love your enemies. Most of us are familiar with Jesus’ exhortation to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matt 5:44). The typical reactions to the idea of loving one’s enemies can be summarized with this statement: “You must be crazy.”

But what if loving your enemy had nothing to do with your enemy? What if the command had everything to do with you? In other words:

What if your greatest enemy is you?

Bring the person you consider your enemy to mind. Ask yourself this question:

“How does this person represent my own shortcomings?”

This may seem a ridiculous question to ask yourself when another person is being hostile to you. Resist that feeling. Just sit with the question and see what happens.

Maybe you’ll begin to see your blind spots. Maybe you’ll begin to let go of toxic feelings toward your enemy. Maybe you’ll will begin to empathize with your enemy.

And maybe you’ll will learn to love your enemy.