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Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Who Needs Your Approval?

You may have noticed there are several people in your life who need your approval. Perhaps one of your children. Perhaps your spouse. Perhaps a person who works for you.

And you also know that when you withhold your approval, they go down ... maybe only slightly, but they go down on differing levels: perhaps their self esteem, their self-confidence, their courage to take on risks, their motivation, their autonomy and independence, or their energy, their sense of well-being, and so on.

The question is: knowing what effect the withholding of your approval has on them, what do you do?

The answer to this question contains much interesting information for you about you. It speaks of your character, but it also speaks of your level of self-understanding. It says much about your ethics, but it also says much about your level of enlightenment

  • do you give the approval? In this case we might say you are generous with praise, and that you care about the feelings of the other person

  • do you withhold the approval? In this case we might say you like the feeling of power it gives you to withhold it and see the reaction your behavior (or lack of it) has on the other person

  • do you give some and withhold some, depending on what you want the other person to do? In this case we might say that you are also aware of the power this gives you over the other person, but now we could add that you enjoy manipulating the other person depending on your whims. While they behave the way you want them to, you will give them your approval, and when they do not, you withhold it until they go back to the behavior you want of them
  • do you withhold some even when the other person is doing what you want them to do? In this case we might say that you not only are aware of the power this gives you over the other, and that you not only enjoy manipulating the other in order to get what you want, but that you also deny them your approval even when they have done what you want, in order to keep them on their toes in their endless efforts to gain your approval

  • are you aware of all of the above and hence decide to address the topic with the other person? Tell them what they are doing to themselves by needing your approval? In this case we might say that you desire to show this other person how to find the road to freedom because you are already well on it

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