If you’ve read my other four posts on this topic, you know Empaths are often sabotaged in their personal growth by common fallacies and tactics that leave them feeling stressed: energetic starvation, confusion, amnesia, and left-brained logic.
From a young age, empaths and highly sensitive people are taught how to be in order to make others more comfortable. When left to their own devices, empaths are true change-makers and truth-tellers/seers and this threatens the status quo; it would uproot all systems of control. Chances are you have had to become a “palatable” version of what makes life easier for those around you, rather than being encouraged to pursue yourself and your interests or talents at all costs (ie: self-actualization). This isn’t fair and it ends up holding you back and keeping you sick and stressed in the long run. You are here to self-actualize.
This next form of empathic sabotage is a big one too, because it starts early and often follows us our whole lives: the need for approval.
Empaths have a rich, complex inner life that they don’t often communicate (or know how to). We put up, shut up, and play the part to avoid being targeted for being different or singled out, or having a difference of opinion. If we trace this pattern back in time, you will likely find that it originates in childhood (or beyond) because childhood is where you were taught what “acceptable” behavior is and how to get the love, support, and approval you desire from those around you.
Planet Earth is a place of extreme groupthink (don’t think so? Try self-actualizing and see what ensues). It feels very scary for an individual to venture into uncharted territories — following their heart, mind, and soul rather than the crowd. It’s because we have learned that when we do things on our own, for ourselves, we risk losing the approval we have been conditioned to seek. “What if I trust myself and they reject me?”, “What if I follow my heart and it goes wrong?”, “What if they tell me I am wrong even though they haven’t felt the momentum behind my life experiences and decisions?”, “What if I am too different to be loved?” you may subconsciously think.
The need for approval from others runs very deep. If we look to ancient religious texts, we can see it transcends time, people, and places, and is ingrained into our every decision (remember my thoughts on The “Eve” wound?). “I have to get their opinion so I know what to do with my life”, “I have to do what is ‘normal'”, “I will be totally alone if I trust myself”, “They will punish me if I don’t do what they want”. This feels scary because humans are mammals that crave commune and connection with others for survival. If we make choices others don’t approve of, we risk losing the community support we need to thrive. It’s the proverbial fork in the road on the path to self-actualization — will you keep playing the part or will you realize their approval is but another control tactic and that you do not need it?
If we look around us at our modern culture, we see the symptoms of the need for approval everywhere: advertisements (buy this so you can fit in and finally be accepted), spend a ton of money on education and training so you can land the dream job and finally have a power status, buy this makeup or clothing so you will be pretty and taken seriously, trust those in authority because they clearly know more than you do, look at this selfie then rate it to tell me how attractive I am, “like” this post on Facebook so I can feel validated, let me listen to this pundit tell me how to interpret this political situation, and on and on. It’s not anyone’s fault — it’s just where we’re at and until we examine and debunk the “approval myth”, we will be slaves to it.
The people who reject you or mock you for going at it differently are only in the group think so they themselves do not have to come to terms with their hidden wounds that leave them seeking approval from others; they too are scared to get out of the system.
Here’s the truth: as an empath, you are an old soul. You carry memories and wisdom with you that others do not. You see through facades, you desire depth and progress, you want to change systems that are bad for people, and you are holding yourself back because “what if I get too big”? The need for approval is not only about feeling you are somehow inadequate or feeling ashamed for not being able to force yourself into group think — it is also about what is on the other side of the need for approval — your big, beautiful, badass self. You see, when you self-actualize, you scare those who have not and there could be punishment or spiritual warfare on the horizon as a result (aka: “what will they say if I am magnificent? That I am full of myself or lack empathy?”).
Keep this in mind: you are not broken and you do not need the approval of others to complete or guide you in life. You already have everything you need. It is simply hidden under layers of trauma. You are not broken or somehow lacking. It takes a while to convince yourself of this, but trust me, you can get there and you can see it for yourself.
Owning up to our core wounds and life lessons is one way to finally break through the need for approval into radical self-acceptance. Until you unravel and deconstruct what has happened to you and why you choose what you do now, you will keep repeating the cycle. Truly, it requires putting your foot down and saying “no more”. Breaking the karma teaches you how to be perfectly still, present, and accepting of yourself. But there are more…
Ways to overcome the need for approval:
- identify your core wounds and life lessons (I do this in Energy Readings)
- activate your second and fifth chakras (your sex organs carry trauma from the need for approval, as well as your throat area for fear of saying something “wrong”)
- choose yourself and pursue what you want in life
- re-frame your thoughts to see that following your own path is what you are here to do, and anyone who does not do this is simply scared — the crowd doesn’t have the right answers, they are just terrified of being alone
- identify and break external validation methods, such as getting stressed over your appearance, physical possessions, etc.
- stop identifying with your “role” (your job, your family position, the false personality you have adopted)
- do not buy into punishment systems
- fight back when necessary and force oppressors to see there is another side to your story
- let go of toxic people who lack empathy and dismiss diversity
- accept your greatness without guilt, shame, or minimizing
Remember, it was never about you — it is about a cycle that has yet to be shattered. Recognize it then shatter it into a million pieces.