The "Approval" Complex Paradox


A random thought distracted me during my practice this morning. I was trying to bring my hands to touch in supta kurmasana, when I thought, “man, I can’t wait to get this pose right and post it on Facebook” ugh, yuck!, my breath caught and I almost got stuck as a “kurma” for life. So I took a deep inhale, let that particular attachment go and moved through what remained of my practice, but I felt I had come to a pretty awesome self-realization, and I needed to write it down. So here we go:
Ok, I admit it; I like logging onto Facebook and discovering how many people "like" my posts and pictures. Yes I am fully embarrassed by this but lets face it, we are all in the same boat. Unless you don't use Facebook, in which case, kudos to you, although; chances are you are still seeking approval from others elsewhere in life, and that is perfectly normal.
See, as humans we have this “approval complex" thing going. (no, not a medical term as far as I know; just for the record) From a very young age, we seek our parent’s approval, our sibling’s approval, our friend’s approval, and even the approval of strangers.
And I am not saying this is wrong and that we all need to stop caring what other people think about us completely, because, lets face it, that is not very realistic. [Even those who say they are doing x, y or z precisely because they don’t care what people think; are doing x, y or z to prove to someone that the “don’t care”]
After all, that’s why we dress nicely, and wear makeup or get our hair done. And yes, this is also a big reason why we log on to Facebook to begin with; is it not? So we can share who we are with others and get some form of approval from them as to who we are; as if their approval was the one and only thing able to fully determine our worth, and that’s where the true problem lies.
If we allow ourselves to go through life putting more stock into what people’s opinions are about who we are, than into what we believe or know about ourselves and our true worth; then we get caught up in a dangerous lie that can only lead to heartbreak, disappointment and, yes, you guessed it, attachment.
I see this more clearly today because it dawned on me how much our need for approval has seeped into every part of our lives, from the way we express ourselves to the way we look and even; dare I say this? Our yoga practice!
Looking back it actually is very interesting how all of a sudden, a person’s ability to execute a beautiful asana properly in the middle of Times Square has become more of a sign of admiration and respect than the actual knowledge, devotion, dedication and commitment the person has to the YOGA, not just the asana.
Now, am I saying that every person who posts pictures of an awesome pose anywhere on earth (yours truly included here by the way because I do this all the time) is a bad person? No! Heck no! Matter of fact, I love seeing these pictures; they inspire me and make me smile, so by all means keep them coming. The real problem is the fact that some people are using these images as a way to prove to the world that they are good enough, worthy enough, and in some extreme cases, better than.
And it is an “attachment” deriving from our need for approval, and in some cases (like me, for instance) it can be a crutch to help boost a person’s self esteem from time to time.
And, yes, I know, some of you are saying, sure, but Facebook is really just a great promotional tool that also helps to connect you with people across the globe, and I am only sharing my love for the practice and the asana with the world; but be honest, how happy are you when all of a sudden a thought you posted or a picture you uploaded has a billion likes and just as many comments telling you how awesome you are. Or, how often do you find yourself judging other’s comments, actions, or pictures.
Yeah, admit it, we are all a little vain, a little egocentric, a little insecure and yes a little too focused on gaining people’s approval.
And as stated before; this is ok, its part of who we are, part of our human nature, and I am at the top of the list here, by the way.
Being the lovely brat that I am, of course I seek approval and praise constantly, after all, this is “Sapha land” and the “Sapha show” should play and be loved by all 24/7 right?
WRONG!
Ok inner brat, time to have a little chat.

Time to look in the mirror one more time and realize you are enough.
Your own love and approval and "like" are plenty, in fact, they are all you need. So stop putting your ego first, and instead, treat yourself with all the love, respect and admiration you have searched for from others for so many years. 

Yes, it is super nice to know those around us like, love and yes even approve of who we are; but it is even nicer when all this love comes from with in. See, the moment you start approving of who you are, that is the moment when no matter what someone says or does to try to put you down, it no loner holds any power over you. 

Now how amazing is that?
Can you simply be in the moment with out seeking approval? And can you love the part of yourself that still needs some attention while at the same time allowing all love, attention and approval to come from with in as well as from others?

“A man cannot be comfortable without his own approval.” –Mark Twain

“You can search the entire universe and not find a single being more worthy of love than you.” – Buddha

“With realization of one's own potential and self-confidence in one's ability, one can build a better world.” - Dalai Lama