Happy No Matter What

I like to start the New Year by creating a vision board. It’s a collage of images usually pasted to some poster board. The idea is that by pasting images of what you want to a poster board, you are clarifying your desires and setting the stage for those things to come to you.

A lot of women have no idea what they want. In fact, a lot of women think it’s selfish to want anything. I agree with Brooke Castillo “… what we want is very important information. I believe it’s code for directions to our destiny.”

So my vision boards over the years have helped me clarify, without apology, the things I want. Cut-outs of ipads, images of happy families at Disneyland, bobbles from Tiffany’s, my vision boards have seen it all…

But this year, my vision board turned out very different.

Here’s the story.

I agreed to meet some friends for a day of vision board creation. That morning, I woke up sick. And I had hardly slept the night before. I stopped by to drop off some magazines and decided to stay.

I was so tired I could barely form a coherent sentence. I just sat there, ripping out pretty pictures, looking up and nodding whenever someone appeared to be speaking to me. I left, a few hours later, with a handful of odd images that, to my logical mind, made no sense at all.

A week later, I started reading Martha Beck’s latest book, Finding Your Way in a Wild New World. She writes about “wordlessness.” According to Martha, when we turn off the thinking part of the brain, we access a vastly more intelligent, nonverbal part. The verbal brain, for example, can process forty-bits of information per second, the nonverbal part can process eleven million bits of information per second.

She says that when we imagine from this wordless place, we find out “what wants to be born,” not what we think we want. I had accidentally chosen images for my vision board that came from the “wordless,” part of my brain. And, as a result, I believe I accidentally discovered what “wants to be born” in my life this year.

A few examples…

I don’t like to surf. I tried a few times on the Oregon coast and lets just say, I cannot pee in a wet suit. But, for some reason, I pasted a picture of a surfer on my vision board. A few weeks later, I signed up for a surf retreat in Kauai.

Next, there’s a beautiful image of a heart. I watched a film called I AM last year that got me interested in the human heart and it’s mysteries. In February I read The Heart’s Code, a book about the very literal power of the human heart as a transmitter of wisdom and energy. I’m now researching how I can incorporate this information into my coaching practice.

Then there’s the tree covered in snow. I’ve been wanting to take the family to the snow but the sheer amount of gear required to keep a family of five warm and dry has been… how shall I say it nicely, an obstacle.

I was selling some clothes the other when a woman next to me happened to be selling a ski jacket. It reminded me to ask the buyer if there was snow gear for sale at the store. The woman next to me overheard and offered to give me all her old ski clothing.

Just a few examples of vision board magic happening for me based on these accidental discoveries.

The New Year is long gone but you can still try to create a little vision board magic of your own to see what might want to be born in your life.

5 Steps to Vision Board Magic:
(You’ll need magazines, a poster board, scissors and a glue stick):

  1. Grab a bunch of magazines. Don’t censor. Draw from anything that appeals to you.
  2. Find a way to shut off the thinking mind while flipping through the magazines. You don’t have to be sleep deprived or sick but it may help! The key is to choose images that light you up, no matter what. If you notice your thinking mind trying to talk you out or in to choosing a certain image, drop back into your body and notice how you feel when you look at it. If it feels good when you look at it, tear it out.
  3. Take the images and paste them onto your poster board in any way you please.
  4. Look at the final product. Does it make you feel good when you look at it? Done. If not, feel free to keep working as long as you are still having fun.
  5. Let go. Now, this may sound strange… but you have to forget about it. Drop any attachment to outcome. Don’t worry about seeing any results but be open to what comes.

So… give it a try! You may not get what you think you want, but you’ll uncover something a lot better — what wants to be born in your life.

And let me know what happens by posting a comment. I love that!

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“Words… can cast an almost hypnotic spell upon you. You easily lose yourself in them, become hypnotized into implicitly believing that when you have attached a word to something, you know what it is. The fact is: You don’t know what it is. You have only covered up the mystery with a label.” – Eckhart Tolle

Underneath your story…

The words you use to describe reality…

The words you use to describe yourself,

You are such absolute beauty.

Peel away… “I’m wrong.”

And your smile, that laugh, the twinkle in your eyes.

Ahhhh, it warms my heart.

Peel away… “I’m right.”

And you are neither right nor wrong, good nor bad, thin nor fat.

You are beyond labels.


Peel away… “There must be something wrong with me.”

And you are everything.

You sparkle and shine like the precious gem you are.

Peel away… “I’m incompetent.”

What is left is such exquisite beauty.

You are one of a kind.

A masterpiece with so much to share just by existing.

Peel all those words away and what is left is you.

The pure essence of you.






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Why Rejection, Very Literally, Hurts

I had the nanny over last Saturday to help out with the kids while I enjoyed a bit of “me” time.

First thing the next morning when I went into Anthony’s room, he sees me, rolls over and says, “where’s Maria? I want Maria!” Then I went into Alice’s room to say hi. It was more of the same … “Mooooooom, where’s Maria? I want to play with Maria today!” Thank god Joy isn’t talking yet.


I’m not exaggerating. It felt like someone stuck a knife in my heart.

Rejection hurts. You know it. You’ve had a “broken heart.” And if you’re like me, you get your feelings hurt on a regular basis.

But the pain is real.

The word mammal comes from the Latin word mamma which means breast. Across cultures the first word to come out of a baby’s mouth is typically some form of “mamma.” In Hindi it’s ma. In Korean it’s ama. In French it’s maman.

Babies know that mama’s are important (apparently four year olds do not but I digress). Mama’s keep them warm, fed and protected.

Pain is something that grabs our attention, interrupting whatever we’re doing in the moment and urging us to “Pay attention. You are in danger!”

And according to the latest neuropsychological research, social pain activates the same part of our brain that registers physical pain. A broken bone is painful, as is a broken heart. A stomachache is uncomfortable, as is a heartache.

The same region of the brain is triggered regardless of whether your four year old just bit you in the arm or slammed you with a biting remark.

The reason?

We mammals spend a long time as babies. We need help to survive past this vulnerable period. From an evolutionary perspective, we humans believe at a very primal level, and our brains reinforce it, that social exclusion can literally kill us.

Even today research shows that we live longer, happier and healthier lives when we are a part of a group of people who “get” us.

Sometimes it’s obvious we will be the next one voted off the island. Other times social exclusion may be all in our heads — Did my neighbor just give me a dirty look?! Why isn’t my friend calling me back…?

Real or perceived, social exclusion still hurts. And that explains why many of us go to great ends to avoid it.

In my case, I considered never asking that two timing nanny back again. I also considered purchasing a nanny cam to watch her kid whispering in action (and steal a few of her tricks).

But after a bit of self –coaching, I realized how irrational I was being. My kids love her after all. And that’s a good thing. And, I realized, I don’t have to change being me. Just because they say they want her over me,  doesn’t make it true.In the end, like it or not, I will always be their mother (muha ha ha).

Something tells me, as a mom, there will be lots more self-coaching to come. The very real pain of social rejection will always let me know when I need to get to work.

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My Wish For You is Faith

“When you come to the end of all the light you know, and it’s time to step into the darkness of the unknown, faith is knowing that one of two things shall happen: Either you will be given something solid to stand on or you will be taught to fly.”
― Edward Teller

It’s Christmas at the Pearson-Albano household.

We have beautiful cards from family and friends wishing us peace, love, joy and happiness.

And I’m all for peace, love, joy and happiness. But something I don’t hear much about during the holidays is Faith.

Now I am not a religious woman in the traditional sense, but I did grow up with a family full of Baptists. So I know the word Faith is thrown around quite a bit in certain circles.

And I figured since the pious speak of it, Faith has to be important.

But I never really got it.

Until I started doing “faith.”

See there are some things that we try to understand on an intellectual level, but that we can never truly understand until we “get” them on an energetic level. Until the knowing vibrates down to the bone. And I think faith is one of them.

Brene Brown says this about courage:

“You get it by courageous acts. It’s like you learn to swim by swimming. You learn courage by couraging.”

And I think this is also true about faith. You learn faith by practicing faith.

You have to risk. You have to screw up. You have to look silly. You have to expose yourself. You have to be vulnerable. You have to be willing to love for the sake of love. You have to trust. All in order to know faith.

The paradox of faith is that it pushes you into uncertainty and discomfort, but without it there is no peace. No love. No joy. No happiness.

So this holiday and forever, above all else, I wish you faith.


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Take Pride in Your Dorky Side!

“The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what you share with someone else when you’re uncool.” – Quote from Almost Famous

You’re probably acquainted with your inner critic or your inner child or even your inner lizard… but today I’d like to introduce you to someone else I think you ought to know.

Your inner dork.

Now some of you my scoff. You might be tempted to say, “Amy, I’m so cool I wouldn’t even use a word like ‘dork’ in the first place.” Okay okay okay. You can call her your inner nerd if you want. Or your inner loser if that works.

But she’s in there. I’ll tell you how to find her. She’s the one you hide. In fact, she embarrasses the hell out of you. You work really hard to make sure nobody knows about her.

You are ashamed of her.

If anybody finds out about her, you’re convinced they’ll learn the “truth” about you. That you’re hopelessly incompetent. Never to be trusted. Doomed to a life of ostracism and social rejection.

So you work really hard to be the opposite of your inner dork.

Let me give you a real life example…

Meet my inner dork:

She’s not very articulate, in fact, she stutters and often has trouble remembering the correct word. She enjoys watching reality TV (Survivor, Sister Wives or John and Kate Plus 8 are some of her favs). She’s not into personal hygiene – she doesn’t shave her legs or armpits, forgets to wear deodorant and often neglects to floss. She listens to Barbara Streisand and Duncan Sheik. She loves to shake it hard in Zumba class (and has almost mastered the shoulder shimmy). She doesn’t care about foreign policy, current events or the price of gasoline. She picks food off of other people’s plates (and sometimes off the floor). She drinks a little too much wine. She calls to her children very loudly to “get back here!” while not budging from the Santa line. She falls for the free ipad scam. She can never seem to remember how to spell the word “exercise” or “practice” (thank God for spell check). And she can be pretty whiny and hypocritical.

I used to go to a lot of trouble hiding my inner dork.

And in my life I became the opposite. All of this took a lot of work. I graduated at the top of my class as a masters student and even became a policy research analyst. Not only did I read about current events, at one point I think I was receiving The Oregonion, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. And as for the rest of it, let’s just say I was exceptionally well groomed and well behaved.

Yes, I used to hide my inner dork, and if anyone ever accused me of being anything like her, I would fly of the handle. But I wasn’t able to see how beautiful she really is. She’s funny, interesting, creative, spontaneous, unique. And life is an adventure being her. It’s true, I’m still whiny and a touch of a hypocrite at times and people often don’t take kindly to loud mouthed moms in the Santa line but I’m working it out.

I take pride in my inner dork!

Here are two reasons why you should too:

1. There’s nothing wrong with you.

So you have flaws? Maybe you’re even whiny or hypocritical or mean-spirited on occasion. Think about the people in your life who you love. Chances are you forgive them their flaws. When you become willing to see these “flaws,” you might even cut yourself some slack. Instead of resisting or denying your imperfections, try accepting them.

2. There’s something beautiful about you.

Probably quite a few beautiful things about you. Beautiful things that up until now, you weren’t able to see because you were so busy hiding your inner dork.


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Do You Teach Your Kids How to Lie?

Yesterday I found scribbles all over a notebook I use for work. I noticed my 3 year old daughter sitting at my desk earlier in the day. I showed her the notebook and asked, “did you do that?” Here’s how the conversation went…

Alice: Well…. Um. No…
Me: You didn’t? Who did it then?
Alice: Um… Uncle Rick.
Me: Uncle Rick did that?
Alice: Yes it was uncle Rick.
Me: (Admiring the scribbles). I like how he kept the scribbles on the same line like that…
Alice: (Eyes lighting up.)
Me: Who did that?
Alice: I did, smiling proudly.

As a parent, I want to teach my kids the value of honesty. I’m not alone. Quoting research from Nurture Shock: New Thinking About Children, “for two decades, parents have rated ‘honesty’ as the trait they most want in their children.”

Which is ironic since we parents teach our kids to lie.

Children lie to avoid punishment. Alice didn’t want to get in trouble for scribbling in mom’s notebook. My little people-pleaser decided it would be okay to tell me the truth once she “got” that I wouldn’t be mad, that, in fact, I might be pleased.

How often, like Alice, do you lie to avoid conflict?

Maybe you say yes to something you would really rather not do?
Maybe you keep your opinions to yourself if they don’t match the party line?
Maybe you create an entire persona so that other people will like, admire or respect you?
Or maybe you just tell a little white lie because you think it’s what that person wants to hear?

The research is clear, children lie to avoid punishment. But adults do it too. The difference is that we adults should know better.

Developmentally small children are too young to understand that lying also disconnects. It prevents intimacy, creates distance, prevents trust…

As adults we’re supposed to “get” this. But we still lie to avoid the punishment of social conflict, to avoid feeling judged or criticized or vulnerable in any way.

We do this at the cost of true intimacy. And we teach our kids a dangerous trade off. We teach them to sacrifice their own authenticity for the false sense of safety that comes from avoiding conflict.

Children tell the truth when they learn the value of honesty. Parents teach the value of honesty by telling the truth.

Saying no when you mean it. Speaking up when it’s important to you. Being yourself, no apologies. Letting other people be responsible for their own feelings.

And if you get a negative response? You teach your kid that the sun still rises.

Psst: If this all seems easier said than done,  check out my latest telecourse. Starts November 30th!

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In my work with approval addicts I’ve noticed several approval seeking personality types. I created the 7 approval seeking personality types below as a tool to help my clients become more aware of what they do. These aren’t meant to be mutually exclusive categories. You might find you identify with several. Take a look at the personality types below and post your “approval seeking personality type” to the comments section. I’ll start!

1. The Hero Worshiper  Master Certified Martha Beck life coach Bridgette Boudreau describes this as Pedestal Syndrome or the act of ” glomming onto someone you admire and dysfunctionally hero-worshiping them.”

Some signs you might be a Hero Worshiper:

You’re, well, clingy. You obsess over your hero, doing whatever it takes to win her favor. You over analyze everything you do or say around her. You take everything she says or does personally even though she probably isn’t devoting a fraction of the mental energy on you as you’d like her to.  Your “hero” can be one person or a group of people.

2. The Perfectionist. People are often surprised when I refer to perfectionists as approval addicts.  I think this quote by Brene’ Brown explains why perfectionists tend to be addicted to approval:

“We get sucked into perfection for one very simple reason: We believe perfection will protect us. Perfectionism is the belief that if we live perfect, look perfect, and act perfect, we can minimize or avoid the pain of blame, judgment, and shame. ”

Some signs you might be a Perfectionist:

You secretly fear failure because of what you makes it mean about yourself – “I’m not good enough, other people will judge me” – so you hold back, play small. You believe there is a right way to do things and you make this so big in your mind that it provides you with an excuse to take no action at all. This gives you a false sense of security because you don’t have to risk being vulnerable to disapproval.

3. The Performer  You are a gold star chaser and an entertainer. Performing is how you think you get the love and security you want.

Some signs you might be a Perfomer:

You are constantly trying to manipulate the opinions of other people in your favor by achieving the highest awards, constantly winning or by being the most entertaining in the room. You tend to be tired, overworked and overscheduled yet you are totally lost because you have no clear sense of  what you find interesting or fun. You get frustrated, angry or anxious when you can’t seem to impress enough.

4. The Helper You believe that if you can just make yourself valuable enough to others by helping you will get the love and security you seek.

Some signs you might be a Helper:

Like the Performer you are often tired, overworked and overscheduled but in your case it is because you are always helping, helping helping. You are overworked from having no boundaries. You often feel resentful or frustrated when your good deeds are not reciprocated or you don’t get the gratitude or recognition you think you deserve.

5. The Chameleon You are a shape shifter. You change depending on who you are around.

Some signs you might be a Chameleon:

You have no clear sense of your own identify because you’re always morphing into someone else. You are fast to adapt based on what you perceive to be the needs, opinions or expectations of other people. Because of this, you often find social functions exhausting.

6. The Hater  Frustrated by years of what you perceive as not getting approval, you turn on others by disapproving of them first.

Some signs you might be a Hater:

You tend to be quick to criticize or judge other people. Unlike the chameleon or the performer, you would be more likely reject what you think to be the opinions or expectations of other people through your words, actions or appearance. But like most other approval addicts, you are so externally focused that you have no clear sense of your own identity.

7. The Scaredy Cat You fear disapproval because you think it will threaten your security or self worth.

Some signs you might be a Scaredy Cat:

Like the perfectionist, you play small and avoid taking risks because the thought of judgement, failure or disapproval terrifies you. You feel anxious most of the time (often though you can’t put your finger on why). You’re out of touch with reality because you are driven by fear and worst case scenario thinking. You hate the thought of being ” too open” or “too vulnerable.” You might even try to make yourself invisible.

If you liked this article, please join me for my upcoming free class!

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I went to drop the twins off at preschool the other day. Anthony had been throwing up the night before but he seemed fine in the morning so I decided to take him. I mentioned this to Lisa, one of the preschool teachers, and she seemed uncomfortable. She told me there was a new policy – the children have to be well 24 hours before returning to school. “But let me check with Rachel…” she said hesitantly.

Rachel, Anthony’s other teacher, was standing nearby. She turned to me and, without blinking, said with firm resolve “yes, that’s the policy.”

While I pried Anthony away from the train table, Lisa’s tone was apologetic as she went to double check with the director.

I was annoyed. “Great, they’re just going to spring this on me?!” I thought.

On the way home, I stewed (I stew a lot while driving). It didn’t take long for me to realize how silly it was to be annoyed. Of course there is a 24 hour policy! Preschool kids spread illness faster than Martha Beck can extend a metaphor. Of course Anthony should stay home! The poor kid barely got any sleep the night before.

So why was I annoyed?

In Sacred Choices, Christel Nani writes about what she calls apology energy. It’s basically the act of “energetically apologizing” for something we feel guilty about.

I colleague of mine, for example, mentioned feeling uncomfortable about telling a former client her new, considerably higher rates. She didn’t like having to tell this client that her new rates might not be within her budget and I suspect felt guilty about excluding her.

When we feel guilty, it’s often a clue that something we want is in conflict with a belief system we got from our Everybody. This keeps us conflicted about the thing we want so we often feel guilty for wanting it. And according to Nani, “apology on the inside invites criticism and judgment on the outside.” Your energetic broadcast, she says, teaches people how to treat you.

Perhaps my colleague had a belief that “Good people charge prices for their services that everyone can afford.”

Back to the original story. I was annoyed because Lisa was broadcasting apology energy. Rachel on the other hand was 100 percent behind her pronouncement: no kids are to be dropped off at school when they were sick the night before. Period. While stewing on the way home, I had to appreciate her…

This wasn’t the first time I’d been on the receiving end of Rachel’s assertive pronouncements (like when she told me not to send Alice to school in too-tight leggings because they’re too hard for the child to put on and off by herself). And although it inconveniences me from time to time, I appreciate her strength and resolve.

Both Lisa and Rachel are wonderful teachers. There is no question. While on the surface Lisa seems better with the adults, I have a hunch she’s addicted to approval. And approval addicts tend to apologize a lot on the inside. Many of us unconsciously carry beliefs like “I have to make other people happy all the time,” or “If someone is upset by what I say, there might be something wrong with me.”

So… where are you energetically apologizing? The trick is to uncover the belief that has you feeling guilty then change it.

You may not be saying it out loud but your energy speaks volumes.

And remember, you teach people how to treat you. Whether its conscious or not.


P.S. Are you addicted to approval? Check out my latest telecourse!

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On Forgiveness

I had the opportunity to review Walter E. Jacobson’s Forgive to Win for his book launch today. It’s a thought provoking little book that got me thinking a lot about the concept of forgiveness.

Forgiveness  a Path to Self-love?

Since self-love is often a huge challenge for many of my clients, I found Jacobson’s take on forgiveness intriguing. We all know that it feels better to forgive but according to Jacobson, forgiveness can also help us to love ourselves.

Consider the defense mechanism of projection. According to Jacobson, forgiveness can operate like projection in reverse. When we project, we unconsciously sweep the parts of ourselves we reject under the rug by rejecting people who demonstrate the things we don’t like about ourselves. In Forgive to Win, Jacobson offers “The Forgiveness Diet” as a way to accept and ultimately love ourselves by offering others the same kind of unconditional love we wish to give to ourselves through forgiveness.

Why it’s Hard

Jacobson points out why we’re often reluctant to forgive. We believe, by forgiving, we are also saying…

  1. we’re okay with what they did,
  2. we don’t expect them to be accountable for their behavior,
  3. we’re weak, or
  4. we’re inviting them to continue to mistreat or abuse us.

Reframing Forgiveness

So, first, reframe forgiveness. Karla McLaren, author of the Language of Emotions puts it this way:

“Real forgiveness does not make excuses for other people’s improper behavior. Real forgiveness does not tell itself that everyone always does the best they know how, because that’s preposterous. Do you always do your best? Do I? Of course not! We all make mistakes, and we all do things we’re not proud of. Real forgiveness knows this; it doesn’t set itself up as an advocate for the tormentors in your life.”

Real forgiveness, according to McLaren, says” I see that you were doing what worked for you at the time, but it never, ever worked for me!”

What About Anger?

In Forgive to Win, Jacobson writes “When we find it difficult to forgive others because our anger is so all-consuming and we feel incapable of releasing it, it will help us to remind ourselves that anger is our enemy.” Here is where I respectfully disagree with Jacobson.

Any time we make our emotional response an enemy, we lose. Forgiveness after all is not the opposite of anger. I have learned first-hand thanks to  the wonderful work of Karla McLaren that anger, like all emotions, carries with it important information. It can tell us when we need to protect our boundaries and helps us to restore our sense of strength. Forgiveness, on the other hand, is not an emotion; it’s an act. If done authentically it can bring about the feeling state of peace. The key to forgiveness, in my opinion, is to remember to first honor your anger. Don’t push it away and try to forgive. Honor your anger then try to find peace through forgiveness.

Humanize Rather Than Demonize

Jacobson suggests finding ways to “humanize rather than demonize” when it comes to forgiveness. He draws on the wisdom of A Course in Miracles when he points out that we can choose to perceive the things other people do as malicious and mean-spirited or we can choose to perceive them as a misguided call for love.

The Bottom Line?

Forgive for you. Forgive while also honoring your emotions. Forgive because it feels so much better and, according to Jacobson, it might just make you feel better about yourself too.

For more about Forgive to Win, click here.

P.S. Are you addicted to approval? Check out my latest telecourse!

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1. You think you can read minds.

I believe telepathy exists. One time my husband touched my back and the word “courage” popped into my head. I asked him what he was thinking at the time and he said, “be brave.” But that’s about it for me when it comes to psychic experience.

Yet back in the hey day of my approval addiction, everything I did – from what I chose to wear to the degree I got, boiled down to the unspoken premise that I knew what people would think about my choices.

Reality Check:

Most people cannot read other people’s thoughts. Try to keep this in mind the next time you think you know what “everyone” will think.

2. You think you have the power to control people’s thoughts.

I find the idea of thought control fascinating… I used to collect World War II Propaganda and read books like 1984 and You Are Being Lied To. Maybe all that paranoid focus on the dark side of persuasion helped me stay in the dark about the sheer amount of time and energy I put into manipulating the opinions of other people in my favor.

Reality Check:

You can do your best to “make a good impression” but in the end you have no control over what people think about you.

3. You think you’re the center of the universe yet mange to have very little confidence.

The second-guessing would usually start on the way home. I’d replay the scene of the party over and over again, thinking of ever more charming things I could have said and done. The truth is, no one at that party could’ve come close to the amount of time I spent thinking of me. And, anyway, the guy next to me who didn’t laugh at my joke was probably too busy worrying about the gal next to him who didn’t agree with his take on global warming.

Reality Check:

Most people are too busy worrying about themselves to think twice about what you said or did.

4. You believe your life depends on getting people to approve of you.

At one point my life did depend on getting approval – namely the approval of my mom who fed me. But, as an adult, I would often find myself overwhelmed with anxiety when I couldn’t garner favor from people I deemed influential – the popular kid at school, my professor, the superstar of my professional field, my hair stylist (one wrong word can make or break a good haircut afterall).

Reality Check:

There’s a primitive part of the brain that wants you to believe you have to live in a constant state of high alert in order to be safe. It’s an evolutionary thing that serves very little purpose in a world where saber toothed tigers no longer exist.

5. You believe that when someone disapproves of you, it means something’s wrong with you.

One day in high school, I caught a glimpse of two boys walking behind me through a reflection of glass. One pointed at me and pushed up his nose. I was devastated. In my mind it meant there was something wrong with me. From that day forward, I went out of my way to be extra nice to everyone, as not to be labeled a snob. Better to be exhausted than publicly ridiculed, I believed.

Reality Check:

I am a snob sometimes! I turn my nose up at beer in a can, I don’t like to camp, I love expensive handbags and I don’t like bathroom humor. It doesn’t mean anything’s wrong with me.

6. You make disapproval all about you (in other words, you still think you’re the center of the universe).

Okay maybe this is the same point as the last one…

Reality Check:

So what if that guy thought I was a snob? Here’s what I would say to my adolescent self: Calling you a snob says more about him than it does you. Maybe he just got dumped by a girl who looks like you, maybe she called him a snob, or maybe he had to scratch his nose. Get over it.

7. You’re nice but not kind.

I saw other people as a means to an end. I went out of my way to be nice so I could feel better about myself. This made it hard to connect with people from a genuine place of compassion. I believed they had power over me. And I always wanted something from them. The way I treated other people mirrored the way I treated myself. Self-compassion was never part of the picture. Self-care, as a result, was superficial – typically some kind of behavioral band aid that made me feel better in that moment.

Reality Check:

“Nice” and “kind” are not the same. Nice is about being agreeable, charming, pleasing…. Kind has to do with benevolence, compassion and love. When you see other people as threatening or when you want something from them, you can’t connect to them in a way that allows for much compassion or understanding.

8. You buy into the idea that some people are better than you and you secretly believe you’re a fraud.

I used to try to fool the “smart” people into thinking I was smart. I thought this would make me feel worthy. It just left me feeling like a fake. I unconsciously gave away my confidence to the “smart” people, as if their opinions about me were worth more than my own opinions about myself.

Reality Check:

You seek approval from others because you don’t give yourself enough approval. Probably because you think there’s something wrong with you (a big lie). You give your power away to other people who you think are better than you ( another big lie). So when you do get some approval, you feel like a fraud because you never believed in yourself to begin with. See the cycle?

9. You hold yourself up to ridiculously impossible standards.

One of my self-imposed ridiculously impossible standards used to be: “You must always be liked by everyone.”

Reality Check:

Notice the words “always” and “everyone” in the statement above?  They’re absolute terms that make it impossible to ever live up to whatever standard you impose upon yourself. And in the case of my old ridiculously impossible self-imposed standard I now say this: Some people will like me. Some people won’t. Some people will never give a shit.

10. You’re in complete and utter denial.

I didn’t know I was addicted to approval. It probably took over 100 self-help books to connect the dots. I hope I saved you some time.

Reality Check:

Nothing revolutionary, ground breaking, earth-shattering, or paradigm-shifting ever came out of wanting to fit in or be liked. Admit you have a problem. The world needs you.

P.S. Are you addicted to approval? Check out my latest telecourse!

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