There is one heartache we know all too well. And each time it makes its unscheduled, unwelcome appearance it becomes that much clearer we've never really lived without the presence of this grief. It's that familiar to us. But, as quickly as this disturbance in our being can appear, it vanishes again, which leads us to believe that either we've overcome this feeling, or that it's passed. But we're wrong on both accounts.
Who is this dark visitor with both a permanent passkey to our inner home, and the power to punish us at will? Our never-ending need to feel approved.
There are few places in our life where this pressing want to be wanted doesn't compromise our true best self-interests. And believe me, almost none are exempt.
From the person who longs to be like someone else whose exterior manner of polished confidence he or she thinks commands approval, to that person whom he or she envies, who secretly spends all of his or her energies to appear confident in order to win that same approval; neither one knows the peace he or she is either seeking, or pretends to possess.
Our increasing insight into this fundamental fact about the barrenness of the unawakened human nature is an essential ingredient in our search for freedom. Within this seldom perceived secret lies the necessary, but shocking, realization that no man or woman has what he or she really wants.
In my book The Secret Of Letting Go, I tell the story of Alexis, a bright, young executive with her sights on the top of the ladder of a giant global corporation.
One evening Alexis gets the shock of her life at a VIP business party. She accidentally discovers that not a single one of her superiors, all the way to the top of the ranks, has any real power to help her achieve her dreams. Alexis learns all at once that the fulfillment she longs for, she will have to find within herself, or not find at all.
But, as temporarily disheartening as these revelations are for Alexis, it's the events of that evening which finally awaken her, and so place her, on the road to owning her own life. She was able to see, as we must now see for ourselves, there was neither any person with the powers she imagined him or her to have, nor was there any real need for her to be powerful in the way she'd always believed.
It's time to snap ourselves out of the painful delusion that any individual either possesses or, in some way, can grant us the power we need to possess ourselves. Let's gather the facts that will lead to our inner liberation.
No man or woman is powerful of him or herself. I know this. You can too. What we've always mistaken for power in another is only the overpowering false belief that someone else holds the keys to our happiness.
No one else holds the keys to your life. As this awakening dawns within you, your new understanding will also reveal a brand-new view of the world around you.
People you once thought of as powerful will be seen as weary pretenders who need you to complete their charade! What a wonderful, liberating surprise! And from the seed of this special insight flowers the first of many new inner strengths. Let's take a personal and up-close look at three of these new powers and the insights that empower them.
1. The Power Of Self Command
Casual courage develops naturally as it becomes clear to you that the people you've always looked to for help can't really help themselves. Now you know there's no advantage in giving yourself away to others or to their empty promises.
2. The Power Of Relief
Once it's totally clear no one else can do for you what only you can do for yourself, you no longer have to live with the anxious fear that someone you were counting on may let you down.
3. The Power Of Relaxed Confidence
Since you know there's no real advantage in gaining the attention of the world around you, you can relax when around others who are always engaged in tense competition for it.
No one can give us the approval we seek, because it isn't his or hers to give. And the more we understand the truth of this higher fact, the less inclined we'll be to give ourselves away.
Seeking and receiving approval from others is like sitting down hungry to an imaginary meal. You're invited to eat all you want, but no matter how much imaginary food is served, you can never get your fill. Your hunger remains. No fictional feast ever satisfies.
But this fact isn't so apparent when it comes to our appetite for approval. We still look to others for our sense of self even though the very moment it's received, it must be renewed.
Believing we can't be happy without the approval of others is like thinking that we can't see beauty without someone else's eyes! Time and time again, we come to the same spiritual lesson: no one can give us that which can only be found within our Self. But we must transform our sensing of this timeless Truth into our personal understanding of it. We must do the needed inner work, which alone leads to owning our own lives.