Approval Versus Truth
Recently the choice between needing approval and choosing one’s truth has kept coming up.
It is something that I struggle with not only as an entrepreneur (Should I write that really vulnerable blog post even if it makes me look scared or weak?), but also with personal relationships (how do I tell my friend I don’t like her boyfriend).
It’s also an issue I hear about from clients and friends who are struggling with this in their life.
The issue is not so much that the choice itself is hard, but rather the impacts and repercussions that those choices can have that are the truly difficult part .
I remember when a good friend of mine was dating a guy that drove me crazy. I was not a fan of him and thought he was untransformed, insensitive and crass.
I love her and respect her own ability to choose a mate, but noticed that the weekly hangouts were no longer enjoyable and the monthly dinners together were painful.
I had to deal with the choice of either continuing to hangout with them (even though it no longer felt good and was energetically draining) or tell her I did not getting together (and then deal with her feeling hurt, offended and judged).
When thinking about this conundrum it was easy for a while to just grin and bear it. To smile through the superficial talk and offensive banter. And to hope that the frustration and feeling would pass.
But the more I did that the more I grew resentful of not only him but her (and secretly myself).
Many people do this in their life, in fact we all do.
Your situation and circumstances may be different but we are all dealing with ways in which we have worry, guilt and obligation run the show.
Whether it is you not wanting to go to your family’s place for dinner but do it anyways so as not to offend a family member or secretly believe in energy and crystals but don’t want your colleagues to know because it is too woo-woo, are all choices you are making for approval rather than truth.
[I understand that in our society there is a psychology of influence that happens with reciprocations and that is necessary and needed. But it is far better to ‘return the favor’ when it feels right and authentic for you rather than because you HAVE TO]
What many fail to realize and account for is the built up resentment and degradation of esteem that will occur when you dishonor your truth, which is a way bigger issue long term.
Going out to dinner with my friend and her partner when I don’t want to not only has me get resentful of her it also has me angry at myself for crossing my own boundary.
That built-up resentment and personal assault is far more poisonous to our relationship than saying up front that I don’t want to go and why.
Speaking up seems much harder than compromising our truth. This is because we as humans are conditioned to avoid conflict and turn away from difficult situations but yet choose resent and self-harm instead, hoping that it is easier.
It’s as if we are afraid of setting off an atomic bomb with the people in our life, so we avoid it by turning up the valve on the carbon monoxide instead thinking it’s safer. Both kill.
This is an extreme example but it is what we all do to some extent with the people we love the most.
If you’ve ever said out loud to yourself anything close to “I’ve had it”, “no more” or “fuck this”- chances are you’ve crossed a boundary within yourself and are blaming it on them.
It means you waited until you were completely depleted and at your wits end to stop and then think it is something THEY did. This is not their fault, this is yours.
I use the word ‘fault’ not to illicit blame or shame but to show you that WE are responsible for the boundaries that we allow to be crossed. Us. Not them.
In the end people are going to judge you and dislike you for all sorts of reasons. You can’t control that. I would much rather be judged and disliked for being who I truly am then some super-nice fake version of myself.
The thing many people fail to see is that being true to who you are may mean you are liked a bit less, but the ones who stick around will love you. It’s about quality versus quantity.
It’s about being able to look yourself in the mirror and love the person staring back.
Every time you compromise on your boundaries you compromise on your self-worth and that constant degrading eats away at your esteem. If you can’t stand up for you, how can you feel proud and happy with who you are?
Learning to represent your truth, honoring what it is you want and still being able do it in a loving and responsible way is possible and is important work to do.
You may think you are living a fulfilled life because you have the dream job or career or you’re in action doing what you love.
But fulfillment is not a function of what you do but of who you are, and compromising your boundaries for things that feel forced and contractive is no way to find happiness.
From personal experience the more open, honest and self-expressed I am the more my relationships have deepened and career taken off. Even in the cases that were hard and difficult to have. Sure there are the list of people who have unsubscribed, or folks who no longer invite me out and even some family that see me only sporadically.
But I’ve also been able to create diehard relationships that make my heart sing with joy and clients who love all that I represent.
Being yourself is the most effective way I know of to find your tribe and attract the folks that are a match for who you are. Both in business and life.
Living a life of approval and being liked is easy and can come with lots of perks, but when you take a step back it is a very lonely experience filled with inauthenticity, regret and resent.
Living true to who you are may seem more difficult, but choosing not too is even harder.