Wanderings and Wondering about Approval

What feels better than approval?

I know what I’m supposed to think.  I have read Eckhart Tolle and Deepak Chopra.  I understand ego.  I strive for self-referral.  And I bask in approval.

I also get the downside of approval.  I’m a pleaser in recovery, so I know the slippery slope which can send me out of control as I spiral downward into the abyss that is myself, uncentered.

Yet I also know that approval is a balm for troubled relationships.  Whether in marriage or parenting, I get the best of someone when I show my approval.

So what’s up with my constant and continual questioning that might be construed as criticism?  I recognize it in myself.  My mind immediately leaps ahead to all of the possibilities.  I don’t intend to be negative or contentious but it may be perceived as such.

Perhaps I should be like an online credit card company and practice instant approval.  I could shower approbation upon the people in my path rather than curiosity and/or skepticism.  If I give even two minutes of complete acceptance and joy as my first offering, my questions can be answered later.

As I am writing this I am having an “aha” moment.

What I think of as approval may simply be respect.  It may be listening carefully and assimilating rather than analyzing.  It may be waiting to hear the rest of the story rather than leaping to my own conclusions and offering thoughts and opinions unbidden.

This releases me.  I can listen and accept what I am hearing without any responsibility to judge the facts or the concepts.  I needn’t agree or disagree in the moment (or ever). I might even become a good listener.

It’s all semantics, but I think I finally have it.

Approval is what I thought I wanted from my older sisters when I was young.  Approval is for loan applications. Waiting for and seeking approval is a self-defeating, anxiety-producing process of needing something from someone else in order to feel satisfactory and whole.

Respect is what I want from others and want to give, especially to those I love.  It provides instant gratification and long-term contentment in close relationships and necessary boundaries in our global existence.  Coupled with connection and agreement it can, in rare and wonderful moments, result in rapport.

What feels better than rapport?




  1. You nailed it, my friend! Rapport. Up with rapport. Down with self-doubt. Let’s get together soon and have a “rapport session.” Doesn’t that sound delicious?

    Love, Gail


    • Isn’t it strange that I didn’t get it until I was writing it? I started that post right after I published on your site.


  2. I like this! You’re right…listening is better than judging. And yet, so hard sometimes to just listen and show respect than to question and judge. Great post. Oprah would be proud.


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