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Excerpted from I Need Your Love - Is That True? by Byron Katie. Copyright © 2005 by Byron Katie. Excerpted by permission of Random House, Inc.  All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. HTML and web pages copyright © by SpiritSite.com.
 

"The irony is that the struggle to win love and approval makes it very difficult to experience them."

  Byron Katie
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 life changes.

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 notice.

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.

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