The Back and Front of Approval

The Back and Front of Approval

“All phenomena have a front and back” Michio Kushi, (1987)


“You can’t possibly believe that b**%$#@!” I screamed at the dear relative who has sheltered me for the last month until I could head out on my cross-country journey. Ah, yes politics the tear that rends and separates. Quite a few things I said in anger burned my tongue with a bitter and horrible taste. Some things, I am embarrassed to say, were said with the express purpose to hurt and push away.


“Why do I keep doing this”? Why do I keep struggling and fighting with people over this stuff with people I love”? I kept begging for realization and relief. It is a common axiom that wounded people wound. I clearly have a few wounds left. I am hurting others, those who are dear to me, and I am alone because of this. “I’m out of here,” “can’t deal with people, they suck” is my usual response to this scenario. I did hear a persistent voice that kept saying “this is your stuff not his”.


My spiritual program requires that I review my part and make amends to turn this around. But, I have resisted the required writing by including it all in one great lump called writers block. So not only have I been unable to tend to my blogs and writing projects, I have been stuck in this double bind where the one tool I need to use, to be free of these flaws, is the one I have the most resistance to. Well, thank you God for prayer and especially the prayer for the willingness to be willing to be willing…


Out of my prayers has come a go-a-around for relief from an old source. Whenever I am resistant to any part, or all, of my regular “routine,” i.e., my personal meditation practice, journaling, writing inventory with the requisite amends and righting of wrongs, I go to Yes, can help, with just about any and every thing not just with the obsessive need for what is cute.


When stuck on a statistics problem in undergraduate work, was my tutor that provided the solution to my problem. So with spiritual issues and feelings of low self-esteem, I turn to the world of affirmations. There are all kinds of affirmations for prosperity and money, and for specific kinds of self-esteem. The money and prosperity affirmations have only gotten me so far. Yes they do work but I haven’t been able to jump to the next level of success. Time to go deeper to the source, the cause of my problems.


What I believed the main issue or belief holding me back was the feeling of not being worthy. So, “I am worthy, I am worthy, I am worthy”… OK, I do demonstrate low self worth but then I realized that my behavior also looks like I have a belief of being entitled” “Hey mom can I borrow another $1000”? “Ah, how ‘bout $20.” Now that is entitlement! My poor retired mother! This is the first front and back of this situation. Do I have a major financial amends due? Oh, yes. So now I have to move forward, grow up and become the success I know, and God knows, I am capable of, so I can make that financial amends. I owe this to others and myself.


I have both extremes of the same coin, the front of low self worth and the back, of entitlement. Yes, self-worth and worthiness (when hateful towards myself, just worthless). All have been an issue for me. I have been a retributive “God” towards myself, and others. When I am sabotaging and restricting my own success, I am vindictive towards self. Vindictive thoughts towards others look like “I will show them!” Or “they are going to pay, if not by me then ‘God’,” with accompanying fantasies of how ‘God’ would ‘get them’ for me. No one wins with these thoughts. These are toxic thoughts that hurt myself, and my ability to be of service to others. Resentments like these are like drinking poison then waiting for the other person to die.


One of my spiritual sisters, doing the work, an inspiration that is moving forward with her life, reminded me of Louise Hay’s book, You Can Heal Your Life (1984). In it, Hay outlines the power of beliefs and the words that describe them, and how this creates life outcomes. This book is one of the first books, that I am aware of, to link word statements, and beliefs to physical conditions.


This book has many exercises. One is to state the affirmation, “I approve of myself” continuously for three or more days. This I had been doing at least a day prior to this fight. So what happened? I had been getting along really well with my host after writing some inventory and realizing that I was not treating him well.  So what happened? Why had I slipped backward? Louise Hay warns that this is part of the process and to be aware of where we are holding onto these patterns. Why would I hold on to this stuff? Well, it is comfortable, in a sense, like well-worn clothes or shoes. Yes, these cloths are comfortable but also stained, have holes, and I don’t even like them.


Another exercise in the book was to ask in meditation “what do I need to know about this? My own version of this, inspired by Twelve Step programs, is “what is the truth about this situation? “What is my part?” “God help me and give me knowledge of your will for me in this situation”. These were my last thoughts before slipping into sleep last night.


Be careful what you pray for. Upon awaking and in meditation, I was drawn back to the affirmation “I approve of myself,” “I approve of myself” and was writing this repetitively when I saw a movie unfold in my mind.


I saw how I had been making statements to my host throughout the day which later we argued about. Statements made as if I needed to convince him of a position I held. Voila! I needed his approval! And when he resisted and did not revert to my position, I got so mad and then had to reject him, push him from me because of some deep pain, from my past, that still made this “lack of approval” from him felt horrible!


Some how I still need approval about this stuff. Is this why I persist in using up so much of my creative energy in pushing my political views in Facebook? I post these politically charged statements all while claiming Facebook is a lazy man’s blog that makes it feel like I am blogging not really. This could be a blog post all it’s own. And I will write more on that.


“I am willing to release and let go of this pattern underlying this need for approval”! I wrote this a couple of more times. I felt it in my heart and saw a new movie in my mind. The show was of where I was and what was keeping me from my trip out West and moving forward in my life. “I desperately need approval”! It is a feeling so strong that it has prevented me from my writing, my art, and my life.


Memories of my childhood, the yelling, being called stupid, and my obsessive need to prove I was smart were clear in front of me. This need was so strong it led me towards a degree in a field I didn’t even enjoy but had recognition (approval) I desperately desired. There is nothing more left to prove.


Then, the sweetest of images poured into my mind and heart. I saw myself as a sweet but stiff frightened baby, which I pulled into my chest and said, “I love and approve of you”. This baby me, became relaxed and quiet. Then, at each stage of my life, at six with golden hair and tomboy ways, “I love and approve of you” then, me a pre-teen so scared and drawn, “I love and approve of you”. I felting her cold ‘I don’t care’ ice become warm in my arms. Next came myself as the seeker, teacher and women with cancer, bald and skinny, I held each in my arms and said, “I love and approve of you”. The parts of me with mistakes and imperfections, “I love and approve of you, myself.”


The “front” of approval from others is the momentary comfort it brings. The “back” is the dependence on others for a feeling of approval that you yourself won’t or can’t give yourself. No matter how many state their approval, if you don’t believe it a million who approve will not alleviate.


Then, an intense energy feeling started flowing in me mixed with vibrating in my chest, and a feeling of love. It unleashed the words that flowed into this post so the writers block released. These words just started flowing and this post is the result. I have nothing left to prove and no need for approval of any one except my own self and that feels wonderful.


Works Cited

Hay, L. (1984). You Can Heal Your Life. New York: Hay House.

Kushi, M., & Jack, A. (1987). The Book Of Macrobiotics: The Universal Way of Health, Happiness and Peace. New York, PA, US: Japan Publications.


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