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Bruce, Caroline

Topic for Discussion

Okay, here's one. What do you do if you suddenly "wake up" to realizing
that the approval of other people has suddenly - or not-so-suddenly -
become more important to you than God's approval? I think even if you
don't believe in God, you might have something valuable to contribute
here, because there is an underlying idea that even transcends faith or
the lack thereof. If you don't believe in God, your question might
simply be, What do you do if you find yourself putting more stock in the
approval of others than you should?


There are two ways I could answer that question. One is simple and straightforward, and the other is probably better, but longer and more involved. I'll go for simple right now and see if I feel like doing longer, later. The simple answer is: re-evaluate. Sit myself down, take a long look in my metaphorical mirror, and ask myself, "Do I really want to live in reaction to the opinions of others? What do I want for myself? And what is it that is making these others so powerful in my thinking?" Then I begin to re-create the habit of being true to myself consciously, deliberately, step by step, and moment by moment until I have re-established my connection with inner (or higher) wisdom.

I hope that didn't come out sounding like wishy washy garbage.
When that happens, I stop and reevaluate the situation. I have made the mistake of putting the value of what people thought before God and it didn't result in good things.
I grew up believing that the opinions of others were the most important thing. The opinions of my parents, the opinions of my teachers and god help me if my opinions weren't the same and if they were I shouldn't listen to myself, just listen to them because they were right.

For most people this is normal to an extent but my parents opinions on things like blindness etc. were very damaging to me.

My dad never wanted me to carry my white cane when we went out into public. He always said that I needed to use my eyesight or that I'd lose it and that he would tell me when and or if there was an object in my way. Well we went fishing in Alaska and I wanted to bring my cane with me because I was living on my own by then and was used to carrying it around. My father told me not to though, so I listened to him. Then I fell through a two foot gap in the boards of the dock on the ocean. I got the worst roadrash of my life and I got a wake up call.

I need to do what I believe and know to be right for myself and I believe that my relationship and prayers to the Goddess help me know what is right for me. That fall taught me to listen to my inner voice and to stop relying on others' opinions so much.

Now I'm having to relearn this as I enter the Deaf community and am afraid of what other people will think/say and I wonder if I am doing it right ( don't ask me what "it" is because I don't know).

This whole uncertainty is so different because I don't give two shakes about what people in the blind community think of me; I'll do what I like.

So what I'm trying to say in an over-long, round about way is that this is a life long struggle and that everyone has to come to grips with it in their own way.

Wordy much?
In this case, wordiness is good. I need to be hearing everything everyone's been saying. For me, I've come to terms with the fact that this problem exists; I've come to terms with the fact that it's a problem and I don't want to be this way. But the desire for the approval of those around me is so overwhelming ... I don't know how to deal with it. People's stories help me here, just seeing that I'm not alone and that other people have found ways of dealing with this.
Here I am, back at this question again! That's because as the day goes on, I am realizing what a wonderful, powerful question it is. And thinking back on my response, I want to re-emphasize the idea of thinking very hard about what it is that makes these other people have power over your thoughts. I know it sounds really corny, but to me it boils down to a matter of either giving away your personal power, or retaining it (whether you believe in God or not, it still all comes down to you and your choices). What do these other people have that you want from them, or how are they filling a need that you fear will not be met without catering to their opinions of you? I know that approval is actually a human need--we are social, after all, so seeking approval is part of how we function as a group--but be careful of how much weight you give it, and, maybe most of all, think about what those others gain from making you feel you need their approval. I think maybe I'm not being clear again. I'll leave it alone now, I promise! But great question, relevant to all of us.
Please don't leave it alone. What the three of you have said so far is valuable and important, and it all contributes greatly to my chewing my way through this one.
There's only really one person's approval I ever go after; my own. If I'm not happy with what I'm doing, I'm the only one who can change that. Not my parents, not my friends, not even Jessica though I'm sure if she could she'd definitely try. If people who aren't me don't approve with decisions I make/how I choose to live my life, that's their own issue to deal with. At the end of the day, they're not the ones living my life, and they're not the ones affected by my decisions.

In short, you wouldn't know what's best for anyone else, so why in the hell would anyone else know what's best for you?


People don't usually say, "I approve of you,"
rather, they say, "I disapprove of such and such" and so for me, when I overemphasize in my life wanting someone's approval, what I really want is their lack of disapproval.
The question then becomes, "Why does the thing about which they disapprove matter so much?"
For me, I used to get bent out of shape about being a "bad traveler."
I suddenly realized one day that I knew sighted people who had just as bad a time of orienting themselves as I did. I still tend to feel the need to proove myself to myself, but more often than not, I am comfortable with the fact that I travel safely, and can get where I need to go. Other blind people can think what they want about my ability to travel, but I try not to let it bother me.
I can think of at least two instances where my parents disapproved of things I did, but I finally said to them, "This is my life, and I"m making choices I feel comfortable with I'm sorry if you are not comfortable with those choices."
I am not christian, but from reading a bit here and there, here's my take on god from that perspective.

I personally feel god loves everyone equally, and neither approves or disapproves of our actions at the time we take them. In the end, god will judge, but free will means we have the ability to make choices without god judging the choices at the time.
remember that, like a parent, God can love you, and not approve of a thing, so don't confuse god's love, with god's ultimate judgement of you.