irony is that the struggle to win love and approval makes it very
difficult to experience them."
I Need Your Love - Is That True?, Part 1
Have you ever felt that the harder you look for love,
the more it seems to elude you? Or that seeking approval makes you feel
insecure? If you have, there's a reason. It's because seeking love and
approval is a sure way to lose the awareness of both. You can lose the
awareness of love, but never love itself. Love is what we are. So, if
love is what we are, why do we look for it so hard, and often with such
poor results? Only because of what we think—the thoughts we believe
that are not true.
You don't have to believe any of this. You can verify it for yourself as
you read this book or when you put the book down and ask four questions
about your own relationships, or lack of them, and discover how your
In the pursuit of love, approval, and appreciation, what do we think? We
think that the love and approval of others are the keys to the kingdom—to
every good thing in the world. We think that seeking romance brings
love, a sexual partner, long-term closeness, marriage, family. And we
think that trying to impress society—trying to win the admiration of
the right people—is our best shot at bringing fame, wealth, and
satisfaction into our lives.
So we think that if we succeed in the quest, we're home: safe, warm, and
appreciated. And what if we fail? We're homeless, out in the cold, lost
in the crowd, unnoticed, lonely, and forgotten. If those are the stakes,
no wonder the quest can be so fearful and all-consuming. No wonder a
compliment can make your day and a harsh word can ruin it.
The big, primitive fears rarely rise to the surface. Few people walk
around actually thinking that they're about to fall through the cracks
of society and vanish. Instead, thousands of anxious thoughts appear all
day long: "Was I noticed?" "Why didn't she smile?"
"Did I make a good impression?" "Why hasn't he returned
my call?" "Do I look okay?" "Should I have said
that?" "What do they think of me now?" It's a constant
monitoring to see if we're gaining or losing ground in the grand
approval sweepstakes. Those little doubts are rarely noticed or
questioned, and yet they set in motion hundreds of strategies designed
to win favor and admiration, or just to please. The unspoken belief is
that unless people approve of you, you're worthless.
The irony is that the struggle to win love and approval makes it very
difficult to experience them. Chronic approval seekers don't realize
that they are loved and supported not because of but despite their
efforts. And the more strenuously they seek, the less likely they are to
How do we get into this predicament? For a few pages, we'll just look at
the ways unquestioned thoughts create our experience. We'll see how
often-unnoticed thoughts that most of us share lead us to needing,
wanting, longing, and reaching for what we already have. The thoughts
behind a familiar 3 a.m. anxiety attack are a good place to start.