I heard Byron Katie say that if she had a prayer, it would be, “God save me from the pursuit of love, approval and appreciation.”
That got my attention. She went on to say that the effort we put into getting love, approval, or appreciation from others is the source of most of our suffering. I think she’s right. But I’m more interested in why we do it in the first place.
Why the need for love, approval, and appreciation? There was a time when that question would have sounded absurd to me; equal to, “Why do we need oxygen or water?”
Babies and children thrive when they feel loved. I think we all do. But is it a need? Feeling loved and secure seems to be a need for babies and children. But, at some point does that need diminish as we grow from dependence to independence and healthy interdependence?
No offense intended, but your approval just isn’t enough. Still, that doesn’t stop me from trying to get it.
I was talking with a couple of fellow coaches about how, occasionally I am concerned about getting my clients’ approval. Coaching for applause isn’t very helpful to the client.
If my agenda is to get the approval of my clients, then my coaching is all about me. If I am going to help my client, my agenda as coach needs to be about their agenda.
My fellow coach offered lovingly, at the end of our conversation that I had his approval.
While I could see that it was a beautiful, loving, and generous show of support, and although I knew that it was true that he approved of me, it just wasn’t enough. No amount of the approval of others can ever be enough.
When I am concerned about getting your approval, I’m trying to make up for the fact that I don’t have my own.
What would prevent me from approving of myself? The lies I tell me about me.
Why would I tell myself lies about myself? Because of old, unhealed wounds and untrue beliefs.
As a child, I felt most secure when I felt loved and liked by my caretakers. I felt the least secure when they were unavailable to offer this kind of reassurance. In my experience and the experience of many of my clients, this is the source of the unhealed wounds and untrue beliefs.
Of course, we are no longer children. But the need for reassurance and approval of others remains until the unhealed wounds are healed, and the untrue beliefs are seen as untrue.
This need for reassurance or approval from others will forever run on an endless loop until this happens. In the meantime, we will be forced to employ strategies to protect ourselves and to control the damage that our need for approval and reassurance creates.
Enter Stuart Smalley who looks into a mirror and affirms, “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and dog gone it, people like me.” This is followed by audience laughter. It’s funny because we all know its B.S. We can’t just affirm ourselves out of what we already believe.
The belief that I don’t deserve my own approval can’t just be replaced by telling my unconscious brain something over and over and over. That is, it cannot be replaced unless we believe we deserve our own approval more than we believe we don’t. And that can’t happen until the wound that the belief is designed to protect is healed.
Belief isn’t just a thought. Belief is a thought with conviction and feeling. Beliefs such as,
- I’m not worthy
- I don’t deserve love
- I’m unlovable
- There’s something wrong with me, and
- I’m a fraud, an imposter
are deeply imbedded and can be unconsciously repeated hundreds and even thousands of times a day. If consciously repeating them an equal number of times were even possible, the belief would still not change until the wound is healed.
So, the obvious question is this. How can we heal the emotional wounds that require these inaccurate beliefs and such debilitating protective strategies?
For years, the only predictably reliable tool in my personal development toolbox to deal with this challenge was The Work of Byron Katie. It’s not an exaggeration to say that when I found this method, my life changed forever.
The Work put me on a trajectory that intersected with the Internal Family Systems Therapy model (IFS) which was created by Dr. Richard Schwartz. Coaches and therapists are trained to help their clients heal the parts of themselves that have been organized around these wounds, beliefs, and protective strategies.
I have completed Levels 1 and 2 of a 3-part training over the course of the past 18 months to use IFS to help my coaching clients. IFS is an efficient tool for healing the wounds and changing the beliefs of my clients. This model is transforming the lives of thousands of people throughout the world with the help of their therapists and coaches. And the model can be learned through practice and applied at home, outside of therapy and coaching sessions.
The approval of others is the consolation prize. Self approval eliminates the need for protective beliefs and strategies such as seeking the approval of others. Self approval can be attained by healing the original wounds that are the source of unreal and unmeetable needs.
Healing these wounds can be achieved with the tools I use in my coaching practice including The Work of Byron Katie and Internal Family Systems. You will find links for these resources and ways to contact me below.
If you would like to connect and explore the idea of healing your wounds and losing the need for reassurance and approval of others, let’s talk.
“I consider myself a high functioning person; good job, great friends. But escalating drinking began causing embarrassing incidents at work and home I never dreamed I was capable of – I horrified myself.
I abused alcohol, secretly, every night, alone. I didn’t know why, or how to stop.
How could I know that making that first appointment with Bill Tierney would rock my entire heart, mind and soul? Sessions with Bill, using Internal Family Systems (IFS) gave me a meaningful way to understand and heal. Today, I no longer want alcohol in my life and I continually surprise myself with self-love.
Guidance from Bill is warm, funny, gracious and wise. I am grateful beyond words for our work together.
I’ve learned how old wounds manage to live inside me and how to reinvent the experience in such a way that gives me profound insight and peace. No more “whine / wine” for me. IFS, through Bill, gave me access to the joy of who I am. Priceless.
Our sessions transform me every single time. How do you say ‘thank you’ for that?”
Lori Decicio, Spokane, Washington
The Work of Byron Katie www.TheWork.com
Internal Family Systems www.IFS-Institute.com
Bill Tierney Coaching www.BillTierneyCoaching.com