From Approval to Acceptance.

From a place of needing to earn approval… to having received approval is a very long road.

If I could give you one gift to help in the journey, it would be this:

It’s not just the passion. It’s the meaning, and purpose too. But that’s not helpful.

So, let me explain. I’m a musician. So, I play music, right? But why? Well, everyone does it for different reasons. Don’t make assumptions here. I tried to understand why I’m a musician alone, but I had no luck. It seemed like the “why” would change every time I got close. (I was looking in the mirror.)

At least I’d get a song to remember who that guy was, even if it wasn’t me anymore. It seemed that just as soon as I got a handle on who that guy was for that song, he’d be someone different. It was disconcerting to say the least. But even worse, every time I would perform that song I would have to be “that guy” again. I didn’t like it, so I tried to get distance by writing about other people. The songs were … weak.

(Dylan and Hendrix use names to start songs, or new verses. I think it’s a device to get distance. I know it’s from French Impressionistic poetry. Obviously it works. Thanks @Experience Music Project)

I kept at it, but all I found were more questions. If a healthy identity is derived from one’s ability to ascertain one’s purpose, act on it, and thereby derive some meaning from life, and that identity is constantly changing, then how does one put a finger on that purpose?

Could the process of answering these questions show you the meaning of your life? Possibly.

Is this process the meaning of life? Well, that’s clearly up to you. Get it? You decide. That IS the point.

Approval seeds confidence, and waters esteem.

Esteem-able acts grow connections like roots.

Roots are connection to others, and we choose how these grow with our actions.

Actions are in the past. Best to let go, and look to the future.

Action projected forward is agency.

Agency (will?), like rays projected outward, is how the self expresses “it’s self” on the exterior world.

The self sits on top of the will, sits on top of agency, which sit on top of our actions.

All of this comes from confidence, which requires approval.

This is a problem. Can we swap approval with acceptance? They are certainly close. Bear with me;

Approval requires something outside. That’s a problem because what is “outside” is out of our control. “Well, that’s life” you might say, and you’d be right. But we all need balance. Some of us seek external acceptance, and some internal. It’s human nature. I think there is balance to be found in self acceptance, and self approval. But, we need to know what we are looking for, and it changes, and we need to be ruthlessly honest with ourselves, or we know we are lying. Confidence is not built on lies, and lying to ourselves may be where all problems start.

Now we are close to the solution. Acceptance is a bit more neutral than approval, and that’s what we need right now. When I hear “acceptance”, I tend to think of accepting that thing that happened in the past, or that unavoidable thing that’s going to happen in the future. I want more than just that here. I want acceptance of the present moment, of my emotions, my thoughts, and of my reality. And acceptance of your reality, too. Past. Present. Future.

This is a place of rest.

There is no motion here.

No need.

No want.

Not nothing, no.

It’s acceptance.

Acceptance of this,

and this,

and this.

Over and over.

Seeking approval denies the Truth. It is a human ego looking for resolution where there is none. Knowing approval is infinite. Giving approval isn’t how to receive it, but it does feel good.

Giving it to yourself first, is the key. This is Joy !!!!!

It takes practice, but you are already doing it anyway, if you give approval to others.

Try this, deliberately:

You know that song (or other cool art thing) you just saw that is so cool?

Enjoy it. And while you do, listen to that tiny voice inside.

What does it say? What does it feel?

If you two haven’t talked in a while, it may take a bit to re-acquaint yourself.

Days, weeks, months.

Look for the songs (art) that you keep going back to. Print out the lyrics. Find that moment that really moves you. Try to understand what speaks to you about it. Focus on that, and then write it down. Be honest. No one is looking. Think forwards and backwards through time, and see what comes up. Write it down. Don’t judge, and don’t read it. Just journal. Two minutes, max. The point is to let that tiny little voice know that you are listening, and that you will be back to listen some more tomorrow. In time, if you can look back on the journal without judgement, that’s ok. Don’t look until you have distance. Just listen. This is how you will strengthen and grow self acceptance. By listening without judgement. Honestly.

This grows the self. Near as I can tell, the self sits between the thinking and feeling minds. This is challenging. More on this later, as this is what I’m working on now.

I’d love to reference my sources. That takes time. Maybe later… If you are interested in specifics, please ask. It will help me to know where to develop things further. In the meantime these are some key resources:

Inner Dialogues concept:

12 Rules For Life

“Clown car” analogy:

Atomic Habits:

Emotional Intelligence 2.0

  • Bradberry and Greaves

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