I approve this message

I’d really like everyone to love me all of the time. Is that too much to ask?

 

It’s not working out that way. Last week I had a whole bunch of criticism–even repeated gossip–thrust at me. It threw me into a storm of upset.

 

I called all my friends to find someone to tell me I was still okay. One friend said, “You are really identifying with this.”

 

Bingo. My identity was at stake. I had taken this criticism–It wasn’t even fair, by the way! –and internalized it as the truth.

 

I know that mistakes get made. I even know I make them sometimes.

 

Mistakes are learning opportunities. I know that. I know that. Maybe if I say it a third time I can believe it.

 

Why do I have to go through this hurricane of emotions when I find out someone disapproves of something I did?

 

Mistakes, made in the company of friends, are no big deal.

 

Not everyone is my friend. Some people are kind of mean.

 

I’m not good with mean. I turn into an armadillo, curling up into a protective ball of armor. I shrink and fester around the injury. My instinct is to run away from the person who hurt me and only be around friends.

 

You ever hear of fight or flight? I do not like to fight. Fly, armadillo, fly!

 

There’s another kind of instinct, one felt by females. Tend and befriend. We’ve developed a way of coping that helps with our biological childbearing. We go around and make sure everyone is okay and everyone is our friend so that we will have a group of people to help. The little ones as well as us are going to need a posse.

 

It is instinct; it is biology to want everyone to like me. It is natural.

 

And it is not going to happen all of the time. Especially not in the kind of life I want to lead.

 

I want to lead a life of creativity and discovery. I want to change the status quo. More than that, it is part of who I am to change the status quo.

 

And here we have it. I want to change what many people work hard to protect. Those people are not going to like what I am doing, or who I am for that matter.

 

This badly conflicts with my desire to have everyone love me all the time.

 

What on earth can I do about that?

 

I wish I could not let it bother me. I wish I could find a way to approve of myself and let that be enough.

 

Somehow, someway, I will find out how to lower the value of other people’s opinions and inflate my own assessment of myself. I know what I do, and I know when I’ve done it wrong and been shameful. I also know when I have done it right.

 

I really need my approval, and my approval of myself has been dependent on others. I’ll have to stop that.