I was going to write about something else. Then a snake crossed my path today, and after the day I’d had, I welcomed it. In case you didn’t know, snakes are ancient symbols of shedding what no longer serves us. Snakes shed their skin when they need to; it isn’t seasonal, something I found incredibly interesting when I’d learned it.
So, what’s being shed right now? More of all that “approval crap.” You know what I mean. You make an A in something, and you’re awesome. You don’t do so well, you feel like crap. That’s me not loving me.
Then there’s other people’s approval. You did what they liked, so they stay your friend. You don’t do what they like, all of the sudden you feel rejected and unloved.
Happiness is ditching approval. My own and others.
I’m willing to take responsibility when I turn the knife on myself, but I am also willing to acknowledge the knife others want to plunge into me and say, “No, sorry. Not this time. Not anymore.”
Approval is exhausting, and it ruins our happiness. Think about how your mood soured when you felt it yanked away from you last. One of my favorite spiritual teachers, Anthony de Mello, called approval a drug. We’re given it as a child, and we get addicted to it. Withdraw the approval, and we need even more of the drug.
His solution was to go through approval detox—my words, not his. Watch it for what it is, but step back from the grip. He mentioned there would be withdrawal symptoms, and boy, did I feel some of those painful ones today: a sense of loss, grief, anxiety.
So, shed with me. As much as you’re ready to, as much as you can.
I’m ready for a lot more happiness personally. What about you?
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