A while back, I was in a group environment where I got to know the others over the course of a weekend. A nice woman came up to me at the end of the weekend and said, “You know, at first I didn’t like you, but now I like you.”
Frankly, it kind of threw me off. I did a gut check. What did I do? What would I do to make her not like me? I examined myself. I was searching for a reason to apologize to her if I needed to. In this situation, I couldn’t find one. If I had crossed her wrongly in some way, I would have apologized. After my self-check, I realized I acted with integrity in what I said, thought, and did the entire weekend. I realized that her statement had nothing to do with me. What happened was that she saw something in me that she had not yet accepted in herself.
When you realize that seeking approval from others is an impossible challenge, you won’t participate in it anymore. You will never get everyone to like everything you do, let alone get one person to like everything you do. The only one you need to seek approval from is yourself. When you are negatively judged, why would you care what others thought of you, especially when the opinion of the person who gave the judgment probably has a poor opinion of themselves?
What if a bank teller just got in trouble with her boss and was in a bad mood as a result. You come in smiling and he ends up treating you poorly. It had nothing to do with you. What if that same bank teller just won five thousand dollars from a scratch ticket and was in a good mood as a result. You come in smiling and he ends up treating you really well. His mood before you got there had nothing to do with you. Don’t get stuck in seeking approval from others based on their moods and how they treat you. It usually has nothing to do with you.
“Why do I care so much about what someone else thinks about me? Why is it so challenging for me to be totally independent of the good or bad opinion of others?” If you are asking these questions, you are human. It simply means you still are getting to know who you are and what you stand for. All of us ask these questions at some point in our lives. They are healthy questions to ask. Until we have total acceptance of ourselves, we will continue to seek acceptance of others.