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It is so important that we have people in our lives that we trust enough to help us along our spiritual path. They help show us areas that we need to work on and give us support along the way. However, it’s easy to become addicted to their approval.
"The only approval that we truly need is the Creator’s."
Kabbalah teaches us that the purpose of our spiritual work is to grow closer to the Creator, not for others to approve of us. When we do things for the sake of approval, we are not thinking about what the Creator wants. We seek the good feeling that approval gives us. In other words, we are thinking about ourselves, not the Creator. Likewise, when we do receive approval, it blinds us to the work that we still need to do and weakens our desire to change.
Here are a few ways to stop focusing on other people’s approval and start focusing on the Creator:
1. Ask yourself, “What am I afraid of?”
More often than not, we seek approval because we are afraid. We worry that people don’t like us or that we aren’t good enough. We fear that we will never find love, or that we are going to be alone forever. We may even face daily insecurities, holding false beliefs that we are talentless, unattractive, or incapable. In order to remedy this, we seek out the quickest fix – which is generally to get others to validate us, be it through a compliment or a ‘like’ on social media. We look for that external validation to prove to us the negative voice in our heads is wrong. The problem with this is that it will never be enough for us. We will constantly need more and more validation from others.
While we cannot always control our fears or negative thoughts, we can acknowledge them and make efforts to fight against them. All fear stems from a lack of certainty in the Creator. If we had total, unconditional certainty that the Creator wants what is best for us and will give us exactly what we need when we need it, there would be nothing to fear! Through our spiritual work, we can awaken more and more certainty in the Creator. When we focus on this, the fear dissipates and so does the need for approval.
2. Stop comparing yourself to others.
Our ego is a two-sided coin: on the one hand, it makes us think we are better than others, and on the other, it tells us that we are so much worse! Our ego has us constantly comparing ourselves to those around us, just to see how we measure up. Our ego also wants people to see us a certain way: funny, successful, talented. When we don’t feel that way about ourselves, it causes us to seek that approval from others.
"Each person is on a unique spiritual journey."
The truth is that each person is on a unique spiritual journey. The things that are difficult for some come very easily to others. That isn’t because one person is “better” than another, but because their soul needs to focus on different areas in order to grow.
When you feel yourself comparing yourself to someone else, remember that the struggles and challenges you are facing are personally designed for you by the Creator.
3. Understand that approval from others may bring short-term pleasure, but learning to love yourself will create long-term fulfillment.
When we receive external validation, it feels good! That’s why it is so easy to become addicted to it. However, in the long run, it creates a bigger lack within us. We stop having the ability to feel good about ourselves without approval from others. It becomes harder to judge our own growth without being told we are doing a good job. And it shifts our focus away from the things we really need to work on to find lasting fulfillment.
Learning to love ourselves isn’t easy. In fact, it’s a life’s work! But to love one’s self is in the most profound sense of the term to love the Creator, as we are all God’s creations. True, lasting fulfillment comes from growing closer to the Creator, and one way we can do that is by learning to love ourselves and others unconditionally. That is what reveals Light in our lives and in the world.
It’s a difficult line to walk between wanting to better ourselves and wanting approval from other people. After all, teachers and friends help guide us and support us. We need other people to help us in our spiritual work, but ultimately, it is up to us to deepen our understanding of the wisdom, transform ourselves into more selfless beings, and to grow our relationship with the Creator. The only approval that we truly need is the Creator’s.