I Want Approval

March 4, 2009

Last week I was in a conversation where we discussed the idea of wanting approval.  One person stated that wanting approval was detrimental and always leads to unhappiness.  Today we hear about why wanting approval hurts us.

 

What it means

This is another one of those counterintuitive axioms that we run into on our spiritual path.  Sure, we all want to be liked and have the approval of others.  The subtlety of this idea is that when we actively look for that approval we are causing ourselves great damage.

 

When we want our approval from external sources we are actually saying that we do not approve of ourselves.  We are saying that we do not like ourselves.  We are saying that if someone else likes us first then we can also like ourselves.  We are saying that if no one likes us there is no reason for us to like ourselves.

 

I hope everyone can see how damaging this type of thinking is.  It clearly does not lead to self confidence.  Unfortunately, wanting approval and validation from others seems to be deeply embedded into our culture.  I know it was hard for me to retrain myself to not want approval from others.  I share this with you with the hope that it may help you if you are struggling with the same issue.

 

Approval can only come from you

In the end, we are the only one that is important.  We are the only one that can give ourselves approval.  This means that we have to learn to like ourselves.  We have to learn to trust ourselves.  As we learn to do these things we learn that the approval will come all by itself.

 

When we are in a situation that others are always forcing their disapproval on us – we must learn to not listen to that disapproval.  We must have a little voice inside of ourselves that tells us – “They are not disapproving me, they are disapproving themselves.” 

 

And this is true.  When someone shows their disapproval of us it is really because they are disapproving of something inside of themselves.  They probably do not understand it, but they are just attempting to blame us for their unhappiness.  We must train ourselves not to react or agree with their disapproval.

 

Taking care of business

Many people find that they need to remove the people from their lives that are constantly showing disapproval.  This can be difficult with close friends and family members.  Yet, some people realize that they cannot continue their spiritual growth in their current situation.

 

They put enough distance between themselves and those who disapprove of them so that they can start to think clearly.  Once they can think clearly they go back and see if the relationship can be restored.

 

As we grow we realize that the only people that we really want in our lives are those that will accept us unconditionally.  We learn to deal with those who put conditions (disapproval) on their acceptance of us.

 

Gradually we find that we are only close to those who accept us without conditions.  Those are the ones that we want to spend time with.  They are also the ones that will help us to learn to approve of ourselves.

 

Until tomorrow –

 

Es kava turen hai

We work towards an identical goal.

 

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I Laugh at Myself Because I Like Myself

December 24, 2008

The theme for this week seems to have turned into learning how to like and laugh at ourselves.  Today I will offer one more idea on that subject.  It may seem counterintuitive but trust me – it is very logical and at the same time very powerful.

 

The power of laughing at ourselves

On Monday we talked about the importance of laughing at ourselves.  Laughing at ourselves helps us to remain objective and observant of ourselves.  Laughing at ourselves keeps us from taking ourselves too seriously.

 

Many times we don’t recognize the power of laughing at ourselves.  First, when we are being objective we are also being in the moment.  When we observe the absurdities of our false self and are able to laugh at them we begin to gain control of our life.  True self is saying that we have had enough of the false self silliness and begins to undermine the false self tyranny by pointing out the absurdities.

 

The other powerful aspect of laughing at ourselves is that when we laugh at ourselves we give others the permission to laugh at us as well.  We have talked about the power of vulnerability.

 

When we are vulnerable we are saying to people that we trust them not to take advantage of our vulnerability.  Most of the time people respond favorably to our vulnerability.  It also says to them that we trust them, and in return they tend to trust us back.

 

When we laugh at ourselves we are admitting a flaw.  This empowers others to laugh at themselves and admit their flaws.  This can be very healthy for all concerned.

 

Liking myself

Yesterday we talked about liking ourselves.  Similarly to laughing at ourselves, liking ourselves is also very powerful.  When we like ourselves we become at peace with ourselves.  When we truly understand this kind of peace we begin to finally make use of the tremendous power that we all have.

 

When we have learned to truly be at peace with ourselves in this manner there is nothing that can cause us to dislike ourselves any more.  At this point we have finally learned to build our lives on the bedrock that is our true self.

 

Nothing can shake us from this bedrock once we have truly found it.  That is why a little bit of laughing at ourselves never does any damage.  When you are building on the strength that true self has gained through millions of lifetimes, how can a little laughing during one lifetime threaten that strength?

 

I can laugh at myself because I like myself.  Also, when I observe my own absurd behavior I must laugh at it.  That is my first line of defense that keeps me sane and objective.  When I truly like myself I must also be able to laugh at myself.

 

For many of us today is Christmas Eve and the beginning of the traditional holiday.  I wish you a safe and happy holiday season – whatever holiday you do or do not celebrate.

 

Until tomorrow –

 

Es kava turen hai

We work towards an identical goal.

 

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Learning to Like Ourselves

December 23, 2008

Today we look at the importance of learning to like ourselves.  This is an extension of the ideas we looked at yesterday about not taking ourselves too seriously.  I found that learning to like myself was difficult.  Maybe my experience can help you avoid some of the difficulties I experienced.

 

Learning to accept ourselves

A few months ago I wrote about how I had finally come to like myself.  In this post I talked about the importance of accepting ourselves with all of our faults as well as all of our positive qualities.  The prelude to liking ourselves is accepting ourselves.

 

Many of us believe all of the criticisms that people disparaged us with from the time that we were children.  We have created our view of ourselves based on those criticisms and perceived shortcomings.  We have come to believe all the “bad” things that people have told to us about ourselves.

 

By believing these criticisms we have learned to believe that we are all those “bad” things that people have said that we were.  Let’s take a quick look at that.

 

First, the people who have denigrated us have been coming from their false self.  Why should we agree with what their false self thinks of us?

 

Second, by accepting and agreeing with these criticisms we are agreeing that we have more negative traits than positive traits.

 

Third, all of these criticisms describe our false self.  By agreeing with the criticisms we agree that we are our false self.  This only continues the false self tyranny over our life.

 

Finally, the only way that we can overcome our negative traits is to understand and emphasize our positive characteristics.  When we think that we cannot change our negative traits we are denying the power of our true self.

 

Accepting does not mean liking

A few months ago I wrote a post showing the difference between accepting something and liking it.  This idea has also come up in other posts.  In short, the difference is that when you accept something you admit the truth of it.  By admitting the truth of it you can change it if you don’t like it.

 

The biggest hurdle in learning to like ourselves seems to be that we do not want to accept our faults.  We think that if we do not admit our faults and only like the “good” parts of ourselves we will be just fine.  The problem is that those faults become our Achilles heel.  When we do not accept our faults we are in denial.  Those faults will always jump and bite us as long as we are in denial of them.

 

We started today by hearing that the biggest reason that we do not like ourselves is that we do not accept ourselves.  We do not like ourselves because we believe all of those things that people have said about us.  We are in denial of them, and therefore we cannot fix them because we refuse to admit them to ourselves.

 

Liking ourselves begins with learning to accept all of our perceived faults.  Once we accept them then we can change them.

 

Your holiday gift to yourself

This holiday season give yourself the greatest gift possible.  No one else can give you this gift.  Give yourself acceptance of yourself – that is something that only you can do.  I guarantee that this time next year you will be much happier if you give yourself this gift.

 

That is all for today.

 

Until tomorrow –

 

Es kava turen hai

We work towards an identical goal.

 

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On the Other Hand

September 11, 2008

Last week I participated in a discussion where one of the participants was struggling to accept the spiritual awakening they were experiencing.  Today we will look at some ideas that can help us to balance our spiritual awakening with our existing beliefs and behaviors.

 

Email distribution

For some unexplained reason the email distribution for Tuesday did not go out on schedule.  The post was uploaded in time and the RSS feed even updated correctly.  The post for Tuesday was picked up and included in the email distro for Wednesday, so that became a two for one.

 

As I have said many times before, FeedBurner is a free service.  Most of the time they do a great job.  They have an occasional hiccup, but since none of us are paying anything we must accept the occasional outage.

 

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On the one hand

I was a part of a discussion last week where someone was struggling with some new understandings.  They were saying that they heard a lot of truth in what was being discussed and they were being drawn to that truth.

 

However, this individual was being torn by their current beliefs and behaviors.  Most of us experience the same conflict as we begin to travel our spiritual path.  We have an existing way of living that we think we know.  For some reason we have become unhappy with that life and are searching for something else.  When we find something that resonates with us we can get torn between the two.

 

Today we will look at an example of how to begin the resolution of this internal conflict.  An approach that I have used is to start by placing both hands in front of you.  Imagine one hand – let’s say the right hand – as holding the new understandings.  Imagine the left hand as grasping your current understandings and behaviors.

 

Let’s take a look at the left hand first.  In that hand you have your current understandings of spirituality, religion, your relationships, your family, and your possessions.  Whether you realize it or not, your unhappiness is also in your left hand. 

 

At one time we all thought that everything we ever need would be in this hand.  After all, what more do we need?  We are trained from birth that we do not need anything more than family, religion, possessions, and relationships.

 

Let’s look at the last item in our left hand – our unhappiness.  If everything we needed was in our left hand then unhappiness would not be there.  But because that unhappiness is there we have decided to look outside of that hand.

 

On the other hand

The reason that there is something in our right hand is because of the unhappiness we found in our left hand.  Somewhere we sensed that the unhappiness was strong enough to cause us to look for something else.  That something else became our newly found spiritual path.

 

We have begun to travel that path and have discovered a lot of things that will not fit in our left hand.  We put those discoveries in our right hand and start to ask ourselves what to do with them.  Many of these new understandings are clearly in conflict with what is in our left hand.

 

The problem is that these new understandings resonate very strongly with us.  That resonance is so strong that we know that we cannot drop these new understandings from our right hand.  Now we are being pulled very strongly by the attraction to our right hand.  Yet we are attached to the familiar and comfortable things in our left hand.  No wonder we feel torn between the two.

 

What to do, what to do

The resolution of this feeling of being torn can be a challenge.  There can be many steps, but we will start with the first step.  I am sure that this topic will come up again in future posts.  Anyone who wants to discuss this topic further can make a comment on this post and we can begin the discussion immediately.

 

Here is how I solved the internal conflict between my left and right hands.  It took awhile, but I eventually I came out the other side much more peaceful and happy.

 

My first step was to acknowledge and accept the situation.  In my left hand I had a bunch of stuff that was familiar, but that was causing unhappiness.  In my right hand I had other stuff that was pulling me very strongly.  The stuff in my right hand seemed so truthful, yet I could not let go of what was in my left.

 

Eventually I accepted that my unhappiness was in my left hand along with all the other stuff.  I realized that it was that stuff that was causing the unhappiness.  This did not mean that I could let go of it easily.  It was just a realization, but no action had been taken.

 

Likewise I realized that the stuff in my right was leading me towards my true happiness.  Even though I could not yet let go of the stuff in the left hand, I could try to utilize some of the things in my right hand.

 

At first it was simple things.  Like beginning to see that happiness comes from inside, not outside.  Then I learned more about the true self and the false self.  I looked at what spirituality really is and I even started to understand that fear is a behavior that we learn.

 

Don’t get me wrong.  All these investigations did not happen immediately.  I was very attached to my existing beliefs and behaviors in my left hand.  I would merely dabble my right hand in the water of my new understanding to see what it was like.

 

Gradually I began to see that the only thing in my right hand was my true happiness.  Every time I went back to my left hand the only thing I found was my unhappiness.

 

It took many years of dabbling to convince me to let go of what was in my left hand.  After that it took more years of changing my behavior so that I was no longer holding onto what was in my left hand.

 

Eventually my right hand won and I am much more able to notice when my left hand is holding on.  I am also much happier.

 

Trust yourself

To summarize how to resolve the internal conflict that usually comes when we start on our spiritual path – trust yourself.  Your true self is in your right hand.  Your false self is in your left hand.  Trust that your right hand will guide you towards your true happiness.  After all, your left hand has never given you any happiness.  Why would it start to do so now?

 

That’s all for today.

 

Until tomorrow –

 

Es kava turen hai

We work towards an identical goal.

 

 

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I Like Me – At Last

September 10, 2008

Last week at my usual Thursday afternoon discussion group we discussed an idea that I had not thought of in awhile.  This concept was a stumbling block for me for many years.  Hopefully this discussion will help you as well.

 

When we don’t like ourselves

Last Thursday we were visited by a woman who was struggling with a few personal issues.  One of the issues that she was dealing with was that she did not like herself.  This triggered my memories of the years that I struggled with the same issue.

 

I offered my perspective about this idea.  I explained that it took me many years to like myself.  Early on in my awakening my guide had explained to me how important it was to like myself.  He explained it over, and over, and over again.  To this day I marvel at his patience.

 

He explained many things that were a part of liking me.  First, until I accepted myself I would not be able to truly accept anyone else.  Next, until I accepted myself and all the “faults” that I saw I would not be able fix those faults.  Third, until I liked and accepted myself I would not find any true self confidence, only false self bluster.

 

The course of the discussion did not allow me to go into all of these details.  What I concentrated on were the ideas of how important it was to like yourself and how long it took me to learn to do so.  I mentioned that I knew I needed to learn to like myself, but that I just was not able to do so for a long time, which in itself added to the tensions.

 

Acceptance comes first

As my guide explained, the first step in liking yourself is to accept yourself just the way you are.  Do not say – “When I have more money I will like myself.”  Nor should we say “When I change this about me I will like myself.”  Take it from me, those things never happen.

 

If we wait until we have more money to like ourselves, that day never comes.  If we think a little money will cause us to like ourselves, then we think a lot of money will cause us to like ourselves even more.

 

If we think we will like ourselves only when we change something about ourselves first, then we will want to change something else before we like ourselves.  Then we will want to change something else, and we never learn to like ourselves because we keep thinking we have to change something first.

 

As we heard about in an earlier post, the idea of changing things before we can pursue our spiritual growth is an illusion.  Also, this is another example of looking for happiness in external situations.  We are saying that changing an external situation will make us happy enough to like ourselves.

 

The truth is we must find a way to accept ourselves the way we are right now.  We must acknowledge, all the warts, blemishes, and other “defects” that we see.  We do not have to like them.  We just need to accept them.  By accepting them we can start to change them.  When we do not accept them those warts and blemishes become the things that keep us from accepting ourselves as we are.

 

Start where you are

I know that this is a common theme through this post, but the idea needs to be repeated.  This aspect was very hard for me to deal with and caused me years of not liking myself.

 

For some reason I just could not accept myself the way I was.  I was very afraid of looking at and acknowledging my “faults”.  Deep inside I knew that they were there.  However, I just could not face the pain of admitting that they were there.  Unfortunately this denial caused me great additional pain over the years.

 

I kept looking for the silver bullet to change things so that I would like myself.  When I did not find the silver bullet I started looking for the magic wand.  Gradually I realized that the only silver bullet or magic wand was my unconditional acceptance of myself.

 

The technique

This took years, but I finally began – I started to look at and take responsibility for my perceived defects and flaws.  I am sure that there are more things that I need to accept about myself.  For now I am comfortable with my progress.  While learning to accept myself I learned a technique that might help you as it has helped me.

 

As always, these techniques involve self observation.  We have discussed the idea of observation in many posts on this site.  Please read a few of these posts to get a further understanding of this concept.

 

My technique for self acceptance is to observe when I am unhappy.  As we have discussed, unhappiness is a false self behavior.  When I notice that I am unhappy I ask myself why I am unhappy.  My causes for unhappiness are usually from some external situation.  Examples would be a dent in my car, not enough money, someone does not like me, etc.

 

When I find the external cause for my unhappiness I remember what happens when I point my finger.  I have three fingers pointing back at me.  This reminds me that my cause for unhappiness is internal, not external.  This cause is usually something that I do not like or have not accepted about myself.

 

Sometimes I quickly find what I am not accepting.  I put that on my list of things that I need to accept and start working on it as appropriate.

 

Sometimes I do not find it.  I recognize that I am unhappy, but I do not see the internal cause.  I note that as well.  That unhappiness will come around again and I have to be prepared for it.  Hopefully I will find the internal cause the next time.  In the long run it does not matter.  As long as I am truly open to finding the cause of the unhappiness I will eventually find it.

 

I hope that this technique will help you as it has helped me.  Please submit any questions or comments that you might have.  I would like to see how our readers use this technique for themselves.

 

That’s all for today.

 

Until tomorrow –

 

Es kava turen hai

We work towards an identical goal.

 

 

Discuss & Comment

We do not want this blog to be a fountain of words from one view point.  We welcome comments and questions.  Please feel free to ask a question or make a comment when the mood strikes you.

 

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