The Dangers Of Needing Approval From Others

“You’re wise beyond your years. You have the body of a god(dess). You’re a total badass.” These are the words that levitate us.

“You’re not clever enough, not skinny enough, not brave enough.” These are the words that obliterate us.

Why is this dangerous? Because regardless of whether we’re being applauded or ridiculed we’re still putting all our trust in someone else’s judgment — judgment that has little to do with us in the first place. Words are powerful. They have the capacity to build empires, make us fall in love, and heal our wounds. Unfortunately, they can also sever alliances, drain our confidence, and make us wish we could rush ahead to our own funerals. But most of the time they’re nothing but a reflection of ego. They are the result of psychological projections and conditioned creeds. Hence why we mustn’t place anyone’s opinion on a pedestal no matter how much cheap flattery is thrown our way.

It’s impossible to absorb praise without also absorbing criticism. If we’re susceptible to one, by default, we’re susceptible to all. That is why gleaming from compliments can be just as dangerous as weeping from insults. Either way, we’re discrediting ourselves. We’re relying on someone else’s endorsement to feel worthy when our worth should always come from within.

As Marcus Aurelius once said, “It never ceases to amaze me: we all love ourselves more than other people but care more about their opinion than our own.”

Needing approval makes us more likely to engage in behavior that contradicts our character. It can make us dissociate from our ethics and misplace ourselves in the wreckage — a slippery slope that’s hardly worth the fall.

Demanding the approval of audience members so vastly different from one another sets us up for failure. If we’ve gained approval from some, we very likely risk losing approval from others. If we are successful in our careers and generate more wealth than we can imagine, we may earn exclusive entry into some elite societies, but there are certainly some that will regard our success as gluttonous and our priorities askew. Women who decide to start a family later in life will be respected by some but terrorized by others, along with those who do so too young. We won’t win. And even if we did, it may come at the cost of our dignity, and with the stakes that high, is it even worth the gamble?

Perhaps we should aim to do the things that merit our own admiration instead. At least then there’d be no running around in circles, trying to oblige those who are still learning how to oblige themselves.

Be the kind of person who would make you proud, the rest doesn’t matter.

This Is What It Means To Glow Up, Because It’s Not About Proving The People From Your Past Wrong

Your glow up might not be something others can see. It might not come across as a shift on the surface.

In a world of revenge bodies and comeback relationships, a world that tries to tell you that your ultimate transformation should be splayed out across your Instagram feed, we’ve lost what it really means to heal, to improve, to move on with our lives.

Your glow up is not necessarily learning to draw your eyebrows on perfectly, though that is a perfectly fine thing to want to learn to do. Your glow up is not wearing tighter clothes, faster fashion, a relationship you can show others to prove that you are finally wanted, though all of those things are empowering and incredible if you choose them. Your transformation is not that you go out with your friends a lot, it is not that you make money now. It is not that you have earned goodness on the surface.

This kind of glow up is quite empty. That’s why it’s never enough.

The real glow up isn’t proving the people from your past wrong. It is finally feeling so content and hopeful about your future that you stop thinking about them entirely.

When you want to change your life in order for it to look different, and only that, you are still orbiting around the opinions of people who didn’t love you, and didn’t have any intention to.

You can always tell the difference, too. People who have truly transformed are not concerned solely with how things appear. Their lives are now focused intently on how things feel, how they really are underneath it all.

A real glow up is authentic. It is lifting off all the cover-up bullshit and addressing the real problems. It is healing. It is changing for good. It is, for the first time, prioritizing your heart over someone else’s eyes.

Anyone can piece together an image that looks better. Anyone can edit and filter and lay picture after picture, side by side, to create a narrative, a story, a semblance of the whole. Anyone can buy their way into beauty, anyone can look nicer if they really try, anyone can convince you that they are doing better than they really are.

If they are so intent on trying to prove that, it is probably because they are still so empty inside.

What if you weren’t worried about whether or not you looked bigger or smaller or nicer or better than you did 10 years ago?

What if you were more concerned about whether or not you gained self-respect, real relationships, emotional freedom, mental clarity, a job you appreciate, work you respect, a kinder and more empathetic disposition?

What if your accomplishments were not something you could photograph or measure, nothing you could loosely try to communicate across some pixels and status updates. How are you feeling today? Better than you did yesterday? More whole, more confident?

The truth of the matter is that there is no before and after in life. We are always in a process of shedding and becoming. That snapshot moment you’re waiting for, that instance in which someone dares to look you up again and sees, finally, that you are thriving… is a game for you, and you alone.

Nobody is looking at you the way you think they are. Nobody is thinking about you the way you wish they would. They are looking at themselves. They are thinking about themselves. They are reading themselves.

This isn’t sad though, to be quite honest, it can be truly freeing. This should be the crux of your ultimate liberation.

The truth is that you have nobody to prove wrong but yourself. The people from your past probably didn’t disapprove of yourself nearly as much as you feared they did.

This closure is for you. This growth is for you. This change is yours. This is you vs. you, you meeting you, you seeing you for the first time. This is about you becoming who you know you can be. This is about you finally living up to your potential.

But mostly, this is about you recognizing that you were not your very best self before.

You didn’t behave the way you wish you would have.

You didn’t do what you should have.

You weren’t what you hoped you’d be.

Whenever we want desperately to prove someone else wrong, what we are really trying to do is quell our own lingering disappointment that we didn’t live up to our own expectations.

So remember this, the next time you’re trying to craft a glow up story that is compelling to others, ask yourself why you are still waiting for their approval.

The answer, almost always, is that you still do not have your own.

What Happened To You Was Not Your Fault, But How You Go Forward Is Your Responsibility

What happened to you was not your fault.

It was not something you asked for, it was not something you deserved.

What happened to you was not fair.

You were merely collateral damage on someone else’s warpath, an innocent bystander who got wrecked out of proximity.

We are all hurt by life, some of us from egregious wrongdoings, others by unprocessed pain and sidelined emotions. No matter the source, we are all handed a play of cards, and sometimes, they are not a winning hand.

Yet what we cannot forget is that even when we are not at fault, healing in the aftermath will always fall on us — and instead of being burdened by this, we can actually learn to see it as a rare gift.

Healing is our responsibility because if it isn’t, an unfair circumstance becomes an unlived life.

Healing is our responsibility because unprocessed pain gets transferred to everyone around us, and we are not going to allow what someone else did to us to become what we do to those we love.

Healing is our responsibility because we have this one life, this single shot to do something important.

Healing is our responsibility because if we want our lives to be different, sitting and waiting for someone else to make them so will not actually change them. It will only make us dependent and bitter.

Healing is our responsibility because we have the power to heal ourselves, even if we have previously been led to believe we don’t.

Healing is our responsibility because we are uncomfortable, and discomfort almost always signals a place in life in which we are slated to rise up and transform.

Healing is our responsibility because every great person you deeply admire began with every odd against them, and learned their inner power was no match for the worst of what life could offer.

Healing is our responsibility because “healing” is actually not returning to how and who we were before, it is becoming someone we have never been — someone stronger, someone wiser, someone kinder.

When we heal, we step into the people we have always wanted to be. We are not only able to metabolize the pain, we are able to affect real change in our lives, in our families, and in our communities. We are able to pursue our dreams more freely. We are able to handle whatever life throws at us, because we are self-efficient and assured. We are more willing to dare, risk, and dream of broader horizons, ones we never thought we’d reach.

The thing is that when someone else does something wrong and it affects us, we often sit around waiting for them to take the pain away, as though they could come along and undo what has been done.

We fail to realize that in that hurt are the most important lessons of our lives, the fertile breeding ground upon which we can start to build everything we really want.

We are not meant to get through life unscathed.

We are not meant to get to the finish line unscarred, clean and bored.

Life hurts us all in different ways, but it is how we respond — and who we become — that determines whether a trauma becomes a tragedy, or the beginning of the story of how the victim became the hero.