I have always cared what people thought and craved approval. A lot. Maybe it’s the way I am wired. Maybe it’s that I grew up in the arts where someone was constantly assessing, evaluating and critiquing my ability and comparing it to someone else. Maybe it’s just lots of insecurity that manifested in a desire to please, become rejection proof and convince people I had it all together. I have lugged this behavior around for a pretty long time. Through relationships, careers, addictions, raising a family, you name it…I have wanted to be anything and everything but myself. Sometimes it seemed to work pretty effectively. But with each new season, each new mask and each new solution I have always ended up looking at myself and wondering what was wrong with me.
It has taken a tremendous amount of silence, work, love and solitude to learn a new way of being. I chose me and I chose to dig deeper than I knew possible and leave all of my fake identities behind in an effort to start discovering what was true for me and stop performing. I let go of a lot to do that. When I was facing the impact of the trauma work I encountered during my career as a therapist, I looked at my own therapist and said, “ I feel like an actress. Like I am playing a role in a play that won’t end”. She smiled and gently encouraged me to consider the mental health of actors. Mercy.
I sit in a different season of my journey today. It has led me to greater self-acceptance, self-compassion and a truer sense of sovereignty over my life. Naturally, this ebbs and flows. When it comes to untangling all of the people pleasing and approval hustling it is a daily exercise in unlearning. I get so many opportunities to practice it is ridiculous. Absolutely ridiculous. But I keep pushing and bearing the discomfort of it all.
So here is the point. The random opinions, beliefs and expectations of others have nothing to do with you. They are not living your life, with your DNA and your history. They will get you off track and make you forget who you are. This is also true when it comes to those you are closest to, respect and love the most. There will be times you have to trust that you can survive the chaos of not having their approval as well. This is tough and can feel like an absolute rebellion. In some ways it is. But you are not here to hide, pretend, play a role or blame others for why you feel the way you do. The people who love you don’t want that…even if it rocks their world a little or a lot. Standing in your truth, believing in your process, considering new possibilities and giving yourself all the love and acceptance you’ve been waiting to receive from someone else is freedom. It is also your responsibility.