Question: I don't know why sometimes I feel so much resentment toward the very people whose approval means the most to me. It just doesn't make sense. When these times come, not only am I unsure of why I am acting the way I am, but I don't even like myself. It doesn't add up! How can a person be in charge of his own life one minute, and in the next minute find it in someone else's hands? What's going on?
Answer: You're right, it doesn't add up; and the truth is it never will as long as you are figuring in flattering but false notions about yourself. Plug this new self-insight into your equation and see if things don't immediately make more sense. Whenever you do something that you resent doing but feel compelled to do, you must unconsciously be more concerned with how others feel about you than you are with how you are really feeling.
Let the following higher understanding set you back on the road to having your own life. While you have always believed that the better people feel about you, the better you can feel about yourself, you may have never really considered that the opposite of this belief must hold equally and unhappily true, and that is: the less you are approved by others, the more alone and uncertain you feel. This helps to explain why you think you have to please people, as well as why you resent those you feel you must please.
Being approved by others has become a strange kind of life-support system wherein, after a lifetime of depending on it, you unconsciously believe that there won't be life without someone there to approve you into existence. Just the opposite is true. The more you depend on others to confirm you to yourself, the less real life you have of your own.
Receiving the approval of others occurs spontaneously and healthfully in any natural human relationship. However, there is a vast difference between winning and seeking approval. We must be very alert to the whole process of peer approval. Cunning human beings understand just how deep and strong run the forces that drive us to look for approval from others. They use this knowledge of our weakness for their own gain. Only higher self-awareness, which produces active inner alertness, can keep us safe from these unconscious and misguided self-betraying forces--as well as from those who would use them against us. It is our fear of being alone and in doubt, of wanting to feel certain that what we are doing is right, that compels us to seek the approval of others. So this tells us that the chief cause of why our lives so often wind up in the hands of others is not that they are superior or that the world is too strong for us, but that we don't want to face the uncertainty and aloneness we think we are too weak to bear. This is the real cause of all of our wrong relationships in life. We have been betrayed by a belief in our own weakness.
The conscious refusal to go along with what your weakness wants you to do to escape its uncertainty is what invokes and finally delivers real inner confidence. This new kind of strength gradually becomes the cornerstone of a true individual existence--the life you've always wanted.