There are so many places that we are subjected to judgment and taught that we need to earn acceptance from others. We first hear it as children in things like:
• Santa – if you’re good you will get a toy
• Being ignored by parents or family because of various circumstances
• Not being the right size or shape to have friends
• Not being the right sexual orientation
• Not “cool” if you don’t have the latest gadget or clothing
• In church where you hear that you have to follow a set of rules to be saved or worthy of heaven.
This condition of acceptance is prevalent in our workplaces, in the media and especially in society as a whole. We are accepted or not based on some set of rules or made up standards that have no bases in a true loving and accepting relationship. The frustrating part for me is how it’s all couched in words that are “believed” to be inspirational and supportive. I’m seeing this over and over how brainwashed people completely believe what they are saying, but they have no idea of the true meaning behind their own words. Blissful ignorance is a good phrase for all of it.
Each of us seeks love and acceptance from others. I believe this is genetic and “primal” to us as we are truly pack animals. If we don’t have the touch and connection to others, we tend to go a bit crazy. This is even true for new born babies, if they don’t get touched and held, their health and chances of living diminish drastically. Even as adults, if we are not touched, our minds take over to try and fill in the reasons for why it is this way. We tend to blame ourselves and create shortcomings or faults in us to explain why we are unacceptable. This state of being tends to send us into a state of survival where we start making odd decisions about how we run our lives. We do what can seem to others at the time or in hind-sight to you, as unacceptable. We might decide to ignore our kids in order to go out and find a mate or someone who will pay attention to us. We might even drink or take drugs to soothe the pain of loneliness. We might even become a workaholic just to feel like we matter to at least someone – even if it is an employer.
While these actions are self centered, they are rooted in the fact that we want to survive and to be loved and accepted. Moreover, when this happens, we are not specifically intending on hurting anyone but it can and often does happen. Oftentimes the ones who are hurt most deeply are children. They don’t have the maturity or understanding to “reason out” what is happening. The child just knows that the people they love are not loving us back unconditionally. The pain of this becomes anchored deep within the psyche and their ego kicks in to try and protect them. It starts to manufacture all of the reasons why this is happening based on the “facts” as a child would understand. An usually the created story is not supportive in any way. Then as the child grows and brings forth all of these fears into their adult life, they continue to search for acceptance and love anywhere they can. As these adults have their own children, this cycle can continue forward if the adult hasn’t taken their life back into their own hands. This dis-ease of nonacceptance, unworthiness and conditional love spreads out to all generation after generation if gone unchecked.
For us looking for love and acceptance we are sometimes called seekers. We go out to our communities, bars, churches and other various locations seeking this connection. This got me to thinking about my Christian Lutheran birth religion and that one of its purposes was to provide this connectedness for people. In my years of going to church the only part of the whole thing that felt “real” to me was when we got together as a group for fund raisers or even the after church for cookies and coffee. In my opinion, where all of it goes wrong is when the church tries to make you believe that the only way for you to be accepted by this group (long term) is to abide by their belief system which is rooted in conditional acceptance.
I just watched the movie “Mouth to Mouth” with Ellen Page and the overall story is about street kyds getting recruited to follow this “new path” or way of living with this person’s vision. Initially it is a very attractive ideal and feels very open and accepting. It does draw in many kyds and adults alike, but as the story goes along, it becomes more and more apparent that the leader has different motives and is ultimately applying the same conditions of acceptance that the kyds were “rebelling” against in the first place. This MO is so common in many aspects of our society. We are so incredibly starved for touch, love, acceptance that we are easily convinced to believe the ideals of a “profit”. This also reminds me of a new documentary called Kumaré about a man who impersonates a wise Indian Guru and builds a following in Arizona. His group was amazed at how we are all looking for this connectedness and will so easily believe in someone simply because the “Guru” is paying attention and listening to them. Truly spending time to connect with others is really a huge part of healing.
The good news is that the cycle can stop at any time and it is completely in your control. The process to reclaim your life starts with loving yourself completely. This doesn’t mean you have rose-colored glasses on and believe you are not capable of mistakes. It means you accept and love yourself just as you are. And when you mess up, you don’t berate yourself or find reasons to think you are less than any particular standard. You just simply acknowledge what happened and make a plan or decision on what to do to fix, remedy or mitigate the issue. Then move forward.
It is important to understand that the dis-ease of unworthiness has been very infectious and has been growing in the world society for thousands of years. The basis for curing all of it is for us to stop right now, in our tracks and spend a few minutes each day just loving and acknowledging ourselves. Take time to just sit with yourself or go for a walk in nature and just breath. Clear your mind of the chatter of the day and just listen to your footsteps or maybe the sounds of nature around you. This can be achieved in various ways and you will find it.
Stop the dis-ease of thinking you are unworthy from spreading. BE STILL and know that you are love. You do not need to earn love. It all starts with you – loving yourself.
Author’s Note: This post was edited on 06/23/2012