My addiction to approval

By daniellemccarron 10/25/18
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I’ve been speaking up more and more lately about equality and intersectional feminism. I have been getting louder about my recovery and showing people my darkness as well as my light. I have been really trying to actively ground my spirituality in humanity, rather than spiritually bypassing (think, good vibes only and not doing any work on yourself). The more I speak up, the more hate I get, the more I have people telling me to be careful and the more fear comes up.

Am I saying too much? Am I annoying? Am I making people uncomfortable? What does everyone think of me? What if I speak up about something I don’t know everything about and I am wrong? What if I get told off or shut down? What if people don’t love me anymore?

I had this moment of fear today. This moment where I went, oh my god, no man is ever going to love me now that I am speaking out louder and louder – now that I am being more me. Gross, right? This is a direct result of the system we live in and how I have been systematically taught to think and feel. I felt sick for even having the thought and then I cried at the reality of that belief. This is what I have always felt – if I was who I really was you wouldn’t love me. If I am who I really am, you won’t love me. And I want to be loved just as much as everyone else, so I would rather not be myself and have you love me.

And what I am realizing more and more is the closer I get to who I am and the stronger sense of knowing I have in my truth, the more that makes people uncomfortable. I will either lose myself in ensuring others are okay or find myself in making sure I am okay. No longer will I put others above myself, rather, I will walk side-by-side with everyone as equals. I used to feel I wasn’t worth as much as you were, so I needed to do everything to help you be okay at the detriment of myself.

“You will be too much for some people. Those aren’t your people.”

I have always been quite the people-pleaser and caretaker and have found external validation in those roles. If you need me, you’ll love me. I had a pretty big aha moment when I realized how deep this went with my relationship and need for approval from men. I would be that girl putting other women down in front of men, so they knew I was cool. I would be the girl who couldn’t say no because I wanted you to like me. I was an active participant in my own demise when it comes to men and when it comes to upholding the patriarchy. 

So much of my addiction to alcohol was tied up into all of these needs. The need to be loved and seen and approved of. If I could drink like the boys, I would be seen and then I would be okay. If I was the life of the party, you needed me there. I was, and still can be, addicted to approval and external validation. If you love me, I will be okay. This is a temporary solution; however, the way alcohol was. If I don’t believe in myself or love myself then I will never truly be able to accept it from you, anyways.

It is so vitally important to get curious about the nature of our thoughts and feelings. I am the person underneath the thoughts, the person who can recognize that they are just thoughts. I am the person behind the feelings, I am not the sadness or the despair or even the happiness. I am behind those feelings. When I noticed this thought, this thought that I would never be loved by a man if I continue down this path (this path of radical self-acceptance, I might add), it caught me off guard and I had to pause and reflect. If I didn’t, I would continue to believe that thought and it would keep me stuck. This is the nature of our thinking and why it is so necessary to bring awareness to our thoughts.

I believe now, and although it still is painful sometimes, that the right people who are my people will stick around, no matter what. The people who see me for who I am, not what job I have, where I live or whether I drink or not. The people who know my heart and support me, even if my path doesn’t look the same as theirs. The people who I would do anything for and not because I need their approval but because I love their souls.

So now, I am getting curious about what situations I don’t feel myself in. What people do I shrink in front of? Which people do I feel unsafe to be myself with? Transformation can come from curiosity. I invite you to do the same.

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Danielle's new book, Journey Back to You: A guide to meeting your authentic self, is available here. For more information, check out her website or follow her on Instagram

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