11 Tips to Stop Your Approval Addiction

I don’t need your approval to be OK and you don’t need mine. I don’t need your love and devotion to be happy and you don’t need mine.  It took me two different therapists and several years to finally take back my power and accept that certain family members, friends, coworkers and colleagues would never ... [Read more]


PicMonkey approval

I don’t need your approval to be OK and you don’t need mine. I don’t need your love and devotion to be happy and you don’t need mine. 

It took me two different therapists and several years to finally take back my power and accept that certain family members, friends, coworkers and colleagues would never accept or approve of me. Never. 

When I finally tired of holding myself back, I let go of trying to win others over. I let go of trying to fit in. I let go of trying to be someone I was not. I let go of needing what I so desperately wanted—their validation. 

I’ve since picked up the shattered pieces of my heart and soul and accepted that some people will never love and accept me. Never. 

I’m perfectly fine with it. There are over seven billion people in the world. There are plenty of people who love me and always will. There are people I haven’t met yet who will be crazy about me! 

If you’re tired of beating your head against the wall, if you’re tired of trying to be someone you’re not, then it’s time to let go of seeking validation from others. 

It’s time to be exactly who you choose to be. That’s freedom! 

The most splendid achievement of all is the constant striving to surpass yourself and to be worthy of your own approval. ~ Denis Waitley

1. Be your own best friend. You cause your own pain and suffering when you fail to love and approve of yourself. Give yourself the love and acceptance that you want from others and your neediness will subside. 

2. An opinion is only a story. What someone thinks or says about you is only their perception. Don’t allow anyone to define who you are or what you’re all about. Don’t allow others to decide your worthiness. You have a Divine legacy. 

3. Think well of yourself. Remind yourself that the unasked-for opinions of others don’t matter. Don’t allow anyone to bring you down. Treat yourself with respect. Celebrate who you are. You deserve the best that life has to offer. 

4. Observe yourself. Gently notice how you are around others and what you say and do to disconnect from your authentic self. How do you give away pieces of yourself to fit in? Learn to make the choices that are right for you. 

5. Make a decision to stop. Stop pretending to be someone you’re not. Stop hiding who you really are. Stop feeling pressured to go along with something you don’t believe in.

6. Practice being you. Lean into who you are. Don't be afraid to speak your truth. Honor what you want. Don’t go along with the crowd. Be willing to walk away. Make decisions based on what’s best for you. 

7. Find your tribe. Don’t take rejection and abandonment personally. Walk away from the people who don’t want the best for you. Have zero tolerance for those who don’t see your magnificence. Seek out like-minded family and friends. 

8. Know what you want. Hold on tight to your own tastes, values, ideas and dreams. Take risks, commit and allow yourself to fail. Live life your way! 

9. Serve others. Don’t be a people pleaser. Find the people who need your talents and gifts and look for a way to meet their needs. 

10. Be kind to yourself. Accept your shadow side, imperfections and flaws. Understand and heal the parts of you that you’d rather hide. Don’t allow yourself to be shamed. You deserve to be seen and heard. 

11. Live a life of awesomeness. Let your beauty shine. You don’t need anyone’s permission. You set the tone for your life. Be weird. Go in the opposite direction of the herd. Stand in your power, have fun and enjoy your freedom! 

How has the need for approval impacted your life?

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When it comes to fear, we can be so hard on ourselves. We take this tender part of our experience, and we reject it, change it, ignore it, banish it. Anything but deal with it.


Our guest today is Gail Brenner, psychologist and blogger from A Flourishing Life: Practical Wisdom for Clarity, Freedom, and Happiness. I met Gail in San Francisco last fall. I know you'll enjoy getting to know her as much as I did!

"The single clenched fist lifted and ready, or the open hand held out and waiting. Choose: For we meet by one or the other.” ~Carl Sandburg

When it comes to fear, we can be so hard on ourselves. We take this tender part of our experience, and we reject it, change it, ignore it, banish it. Anything but deal with it.

We think that if the fear would just go away, we will be able to get on with it. And in the meantime, we are suffering tremendously, watching the moments of our lives tick away, waiting to live.

As much as we try to get rid of fear, it seems to have a mind of its own. So what to do? There must be another way.

There is, and it is called friendship. When fear arises, we are being called to befriend a part of ourselves that is asking for our attention. Just like a friend, we invite it in, get to know it, and treat it with loving care.

The Essential Life Choice

When any painful emotion comes to our awareness, we are faced with a choice. We react against it, or we welcome it. We feed the inner war, or we begin to wage peace. We put off our happiness to some future time, or we relax into the experience of the moment as it is.

What is amazing is that we have this choice. By aligning ourselves with our deepest longings, we don't need to follow stress, unhappiness, and limitation. We can move out of the way to let the light of our lives shine in every direction.

Fear 101

Are you paralyzed by fear? Are you keeping yourself small by allowing it to guide your decisions? Maybe now is the time to consider befriending fear. Get to know it so well that it loses its power over you. Learn to address it so it doesn't overwhelm you. Then go on out there and enjoy yourself.

If you look closely, you will discover that fear is made up of thoughts and physical sensations. When fear is running, we channel our inner boogieman and create scary stories in our minds about every negative outcome imaginable. At the same time, our bodies are tense and contracted.

If you want to befriend fear, tune into your body and explore your thoughts. Here's how.

Befriending the Fear Body

The hallmark of the body in fear is an overactive nervous system ready for fight or flight.

  • Notice. Find your inner witness, and simply notice the bodily sensations you are experiencing. Allow them to be as they are without running or fixing.
  • Breathe. Take a few slow, deep inhales and exhales. Inhale the nourishment of air and exhale to let go. Just a few breaths can be so centering.
  • Relax. Close your eyes, and invite relaxation into your whole body, head to toe.
  • Move. Swing your arms, run or walk, take a few yoga postures. Make a space for the energy in your body to move.

Befriending the Fear Mind

Fear-based thoughts swirl like a tornado. Have you noticed?

  • Orient. Embody resilience, strength, and empowerment.
  • Notice. From the place of the inner witness, put some space around your thoughts.
  • Question. Investigate the thoughts to see if they are true. Hint: they aren't. Fear thoughts create negative scenarios about the future. See the futility of buying into them.
  • Don't know. Realize that you don't actually know what the future is going to bring. Stay open so that creative solutions and insights can emerge.
  • Listen. Don't listen to what the fear thoughts are saying, and find the quiet whisper of your soul speaking.

Once you turn to meet the experience of fear, you set in motion the possibility for thoughtful and compassionate responding. Every part of your experience has a place to be. And in this acceptance arises the knowing of your next step.

Befriending fear allows you to tap into the natural wisdom and intelligence that is the truth of your being. Right now, in this moment, what do you choose?

Does fear hold you back? Have you learned to flourish in the face of fear? 

image credit

Gail Brenner, Ph.D. is a psychologist and blogger who writes at A Flourishing Life, where she delights in offering practical wisdom for untangling self-defeating habits and realizing happiness.

You can receive her posts by RSS or email, and contact her regarding personalized sessions to help you get unstuck.

Joy, Love and Wisdom with Brenda Strausz

Love is such a powerful thing. Louise Hay says that, “Loving ourselves creates miracles in our lives.” When I see my clients through the eyes of love, they begin to open to their own loveliness.

As they share their fears, worries, hurts and pain, we explore how they live in the world. What do they believe about themselves? About others? About their lovability? How do they relate to the world? What do they think is holding them back from being happy?


Every once in a while you come upon a blog or website that stands out with wisdom and love. Brenda's was one I happened upon lately. Today I left my comments out of the interview. It is powerful on it's own. Enjoy and feel the love!

Brenda Strausz is a holistic Psychotherapist, Life Coach, Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT Tapping) Practitioner and Hypnotherapist. She specializes in helping women love and accept themselves and overcome any obstacles that stop them from living in their full magnificence.  

She believes strongly in the healing power of love and forgiveness and feels that your joy is the greatest gift you can give the world!

You can follow Brenda on Facebook or Twitter.

What led you to become a therapist?

I wanted to be a psychologist for as long as I can remember. I ended up majoring in early childhood education and taught both full-time and part time for about 20 years. Although I enjoyed teaching, I found that I was more interested in my students’ psyches and souls than in their academic achievements.

At age 49, I took a BOLD (love that word Tess!) leap and went back to school to become a psychologist.  It was one of the best things I have ever done!  I realize now that the wisdom I gleaned through my years as a wife, mother, friend and educator was invaluable.

I am very grateful for this classroom called “life” as well as the great education I got.

You are known for helping women increase their self love. Share with our readers how you go about doing that.

Love is such a powerful thing. Louise Hay says that, “Loving ourselves creates miracles in our lives.” When I see my clients through the eyes of love, they begin to open to their own loveliness. 

As they share their fears, worries, hurts and pain, we explore how they live in the world. What do they believe about themselves?  About others?  About their lovability?  How do they relate to the world? What do they think is holding them back from being happy?

As they tell their stories, we figure out what false beliefs they are carrying around and how these beliefs are affecting their lives. Author Tara Brach says that we are all in “the trance of unworthiness”.  I guess in many ways I de-hypnotize people. 

I help them to see how their old baggage and limiting beliefs keep them from living fully.  And as they shed the old stuff, they begin the journey back to themselves. They see their true magnificence!  And like a flower that is given sun and water I watch as they blossom. And that is a joy to behold!

We also pay attention to how they talk to themselves and we identify the inner critic which is in reality the internalized parent. This critic takes its toll on us. It weakens us and depletes our energy. I guide them to see the voice for what it is and practice disengaging.

We go on a “goodness” search as we identify the gold within.

And then come the affirmations!  I make sure that they are not just parroting them but really believe them. Affirmations have tremendous power!

Below are some of my client’s favorite affirmations:I am a being of light and love.

I accept and love myself just as I am

The love I feel for myself flows out and touches the whole world.

I treat myself with kindness and compassion.

I see the beauty and sacredness of my soul.

I appreciate all my blessings and gifts.

I have so much joy to share with the world.

When we get to this place of self-love, it is amazing how much better we feel and how much our lives improve in so many areas: relationships, work, our attitudes, our thoughts, our behaviors, our daily interactions.  We feel so much more alive!

I find it exciting you use different modalities along with traditional therapy; tell us more about that.

I am so grateful that I have so many ways of empowering my clients.

One of my favorite modalities is Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) which I have been certified in since 2002. EFT works like acupuncture for the emotions but without the needles. It consists of the client gently tapping on energy points along his or her body while saying affirmations. The tapping releases energy that has been stuck and puts the body back in a state of flow.  

People universally report feeling like a burden has been lifted from their shoulders. This technique is wonderful for everything from moving beyond limiting beliefs to helping with physical illness, trauma, anxiety, phobias, stress, depression. The motto with EFT is, “Try it on everything!”  

I also use Hypnotherapy in my work. It gets to the underlying cause of issues and works in removing mental and emotional blocks and breaking old negative and subconscious patterns. It is also very useful for anxiety, depression, relationships, personal performance, reducing cravings and many other things.  I often combine it with EFT for spectacular results.

 Art Therapy and Journal Therapy are very helpful for gaining self-clarity. A recent example: a client came in confused about why she was so depressed. I gave her colored pencils and a sketch pad and asked her to draw how she was feeling. She picked up a black colored pencil and drew a very small figure cowering in the corner of the page. 

I told her to give the figure a name. “Ms. Nobody."  She wrote.  “And what might Ms. Nobody be saying?”  Grabbing the black pencil and wrote, “I don’t really matter to anyone. I am small and afraid. I do not know who I am.”  This gave us wonderful information to uncover the source of these feelings and how she could move beyond them.

You state on your website that stats show 85% of all illnesses are caused by unresolved emotional issues. That’s huge…I have two older adult friends with rheumatoid arthritis. What kind of emotional baggage would cause something like that?

It is amazing how connected the mind and body are. The body is really a metaphor for the mind. For example, if client complains of a headache and describes her main symptom as “pressure”, we explore what kind of pressure she is under. Where is it coming from?  What was he past experience with pressure? How can it best be resolved?

 I have found with arthritis often the client is hanging onto something too tightly. Stiffly. I worked with a client who had arthritis in her hips. As we explored her emotions around this she came up with a stuck feeling, a fear of moving forward. 

She hated her job; she longed to do something fun and creative. With EFT we addressed this feeling of ‘stuckness’.  We explored where in her past her fear of moving forward came from.

The next day she went shopping and realized that she had walked for 3 hours without even noticing the pain. In the next few months she decided to leave her job and go back to school to pursue her dream. Her hips seldom hurt now.

Do you have any upcoming projects?

I am working on a book called Open to Joy that focuses on finding joy in everyday life.

I am in the process of creating an online class called “Focus on Joy” where I will send out lessons and playful assignments on freeing yourself to experience more joy in your life.

I am going to be offering a 6 week teleclass on Louise Hay’s work, “You Can Heal Your Life.”

Why would a client want to hire you as a therapist or coach?

I am dedicated to my clients’ blossoming into their true and beautiful selves and I am trained in powerful modalities to help with this process. My clients report how their lives and relationships improve when working with me and how they feel much more peaceful and joy-filled.

What words do you want to leave us with today?

You are magnificent!  Embrace your magnificence and let your light shine strong and bright!  You have everything you need inside of you to live a life of joyful abundance. . And your happiness and joy are the best gift you can give the world!  

Born To Run

“The more I run, the more I want to run, and the more I live a life conditioned and influenced and fashioned by my running. And the more I run, the more certain I am that I am heading for my real goal: to become the person I am.”


Fast as fast can be!

Creative Commons License photo credit: jenny818

Why I Love Running

“The more I run, the more I want to run, and the more I live a life conditioned and influenced and fashioned by my running. And the more I run, the more certain I am that I am heading for my real goal: to become the person I am.

                                                             —George Sheehan 

Over twenty years ago I quit smoking and started running. At that time, I was a young mom with four daughters. 

Running gave me a break from the girls, set a good example and gave me an outlet from the craziness of raising a family. It was a life changing decision that continues to benefit me today. 

Why I love running: 

It provides mental toughness

A year ago I ran a ½ marathon in Atlanta. I made the mistake of not training on hills. I struggled the last five miles telling myself, “I can. I will. I can. I will.” And I did. 

When life is hard and unfair, as I runner, I know how to dig down and find strength. I’ve stood up to hardship by running through difficult times. I ran when my teenagers were testing boundaries, through my mom’s cancer and when my husband lost his job.

Like life, running takes courage—everyday kind of courage. 

Running is fun.

There are several fun elements involved in running: discovering new routes, running in other cities, trying out new shoes, getting a t-shirt and medal at the finish line. 

Runners are social and love to have pre-race dinners and post race parties. Entire weekends can be filled with expos and events centered on the main event. There’s a buzz of excitement that can’t be squelched no matter what the weather. Like the cloud of dust envelops Pig Pen in the Peanuts cartoon, a cloud of joy outlines a runner.

It gives me an opportunity to quiet my inner critic. 

I’ve learned to keep my eye on the competition. I choose a runner a bit ahead of me and vow to pass them. Each time I do I’m reminded that I’m always capable of a little more than I think I am…I’ve learned how to turn off the little negative voice and persevere.   

Runners experience nature at its best. 

In Michigan running allows me to experience the seasons with all of my senses. In the spring, an early morning run gives me the opportunity to be the first one to see dawn break, the ducks swimming on the lake, and the flowers blossom. 

In the summer I glisten with sweat, run on the beach, enter midnight runs and eat more ice cream. 

In the fall, my senses are filled with the sounds of a football game, the leaves crunching under my feet and the sight of frost on the pumpkins. 

In the winter I’m challenged to crawl out of bed and slip into the morning darkness and freezing cold. I’ve ran under the stars, fallen on ice, and have been blinded by blizzards.

In Arizona the running is easy. The bright sun and clear blue sky are my constant companions. Shorts and a light shirt are the norm. Add water and I'm good to go. 

Running keeps me thin. 

My nine siblings are all tall. I was the only short one in the family. I’ve used running to reduce and manage my weight. I’ve gained a stronger self-image. 

Running burns 100 calories per mile, more than any other form of cardiovascular exercise. Running combined with a healthy diet have kept me at the same weight for years. 

Running keeps me physically healthy. 

I have better circulation, a stronger heart, excellent blood pressure and physical endurance. Running raises my HDL (good cholesterol) and helps prevent heart disease. 

Running keeps me young. 

It slows my aging process. Running promotes the human growth hormone that helps me stay young. I have less muscle and bone loss than other women my age. My legs and body are strong and capable. I have an after glow that lasts the rest of the day. 

Running relieves stress.

I use it for problem solving while allowing any stress to roll off my shoulders with each step and every mile. Long country roads rid me of negative energy. When I’m angry, I do short but fast runs. Over the years, running has helped me feel less moody, less tired and less confused. 

Running makes me confident.

It allows me time to think, to dream, to plan and be inspired to do greater things. My mind becomes focused and determined. Running gives me a move-a-mountain mentality. I’ve quit making excuses. I hold myself accountable. 

Running has allowed me to be a good role model. 

Both friends and family admire me for being disciplined enough to make running a lifestyle. My daughters run, walk and one does triathlons. 

Most people think they aren’t capable of running. I have a different opinion.

Physically challenged people are excellent runners. I’ve seen 75 year olds finish marathons, blind people run and soldiers with prosthetics finish races.

I’ve seen people run for a cause and raise hundreds of dollars for their favorite charity. Those who inspire me the most are the athletes in wheel chairs. With focus and determination, using half their body strength they finish ultra marathons. 

Running keeps my mind positive. 

Knowing I’m capable of running a 25K continues to amaze me and gives me a feeling of empowerment and freedom. 

Running provides a natural high caused by endorphins that is exhilarating and offers me a general state of happiness. Life is my adventure, I love running. I believe we were born to run!

My current lesson: learning to like strength training and yoga. I've incorporated them into my exercise plan and need to commit for the rest of my life!

Instead I'm taking one day at a time. I stay in the present moment as much as I possibly can during the work outs.

I'll keep you posted on my progress.

What do you need to incorporate into your lifestyle?

What do you love to do? 

What were you born to do?

Taking Bold Steps To Live Fully

And then something happened my sixth year of teaching, I began to wonder, slowly at first and then with greater pace and exhilaration about what life would be like if I really pursued my dreams. Now as I mentioned, I actually loved my job as a teacher.


Ekoin temple - Garden
Creative Commons License photo credit: Shot_by_Cam
I am honored to introduce you to our quest author Evita Ochel from Evolving Beings. Evita is the main author and co-founder of three websites: Evolving Beings, Evolving Wellness and Evolving Scenes.

Evolving Beings was born out of a passion for awakening and seeking truth in all areas of life. It’s mission is to raise the global consciousness on the planet, help others awaken, and rise up to live life from their highest version – love and peace. It is also to help transition others through the changes that are taking place on our planet today.

Taking Bold Steps To Live Fully

So many of us live lives that are for the most part very routine. Once we grow up and get some kind of a steady job, most of us are more than happy it seems to set up a family and establish a comfortable day to day routine. Or are we?

It seems that is the pattern that most of us flock towards, and yet our happiness levels are telling a whole other story.  If you talk to most people today, perhaps it is even you – you will not hear people being ecstatically joyful about their lives.

Life either seems to be full of struggles and challenges or if we are lucky, as some would see it, life picks up an established, comfortable routine.

But is this really living? Is this what life is really all about or is there something more that life calls you to be or do?

Well, there came a point where the time came for me to ask myself the same questions. I began my journey just like most people when I graduated formal schooling as a high school teacher.

I was excited to have the job I wanted and everything was brand new. There was learning, there was excitement and there was lots of growth.

Year one, two and three ticked by and I quickly developed a real love for what I was doing. The environment and tasks were now very familiar to me and one could say, I even felt like a pro.

From the first year of teaching right up until the fifth, I was sure this is what I was going to be doing for the rest of my life. I was happy, I was joyful, I loved what I was doing and boy did I have a great routine!

And then something happened my sixth year of teaching, I began to wonder, slowly at first and then with greater pace and exhilaration about what life would be like if I really pursued my dreams. Now as I mentioned, I actually loved my job as a teacher.

The meaning that each day took on for me as a teacher working with youth was amazing, but somehow, something within started to tell me that there was more. Something was bubbling under the surface, and by year seven I knew I had to make a decision. I had to move on.

I had all the security one would ever hope or dream for. I had a fantastic salary and a perfectly carved out routine. I knew my tasks. I knew what was expected of me. I was great at my job. Most days I had little, if any stress. And yet I still decided to walk away from this and resign from my position.

This was the boldest move I have ever made in my life thus far. 

The spirit within me was craving freedom. Freedom to be and freedom to express myself in whatever way I saw fit. There was a silenced writer within me waiting to break free. There was a calling to go out into the world and use my talents to teach on a whole new scale.

I was going into a completely foreign territory. I was shattering my routine. I had no idea what would await me each day. I had no idea when or where money would come from. I had no idea how or what my days or tasks would look like and if I would even be good at them.

To some such a move may seem unfathomable, maybe even crazy. But that is what bold moves are all about.

And it is not that I was bored, or seeking a thrill or wanted to give my body an adrenaline rush. It was because within me my spirit was stirring. It was calling me to really pursue and experience the fullness of life, and all I did was listen and act.

I listened – and where am I today. It has been 4 months now since I have been “on my own” and do I have everything figured out yet? Of course not. I did not make this bold move to find another routine. I did it so that I could really experience life and me on every level.

What I do have and know is that I am blissfully happy and free. Today I run 3 websites on which I  contribute to the world through sharing my writing, knowledge and whatever other ways I am called upon to do so. And somehow money seems to be trickling in from unexpected sources. And somehow each day when I wake up I know what to do. And somehow life is taking on a whole new meaning of fullness like I never thought possible.

Everything is just as it was meant to be, and all because I chose to tune into my inner being, listen and really hear what it was calling forth within me.

Today I know the possibilities are endless and living life in this physical plane is one of the most exciting things that could have every happened to any of us. It is the best gift we were ever given.

If you love your life and feel that everything is just as you really wanted, than that is wonderful. However, if you feel that you are holding yourself back, not really living out a certain aspect or dream that you really feel called to do, then go within and listen to your spirit.

It is not about taking irrational risks, but about living life with fullness. It is about having no regrets and giving it your all.

And thus today I encourage others to go within and listen to their own inner being. Each of our bold moves may come to us in various forms – but we will never know what may come if we don’t allow ourselves to connect with that inner space and see what possibilities exist.

Please visit Evita at EvolvingBeings and sign up to receive regular updates!

What bold moves have you made in your life or perhaps want to make?
How do you feel about these decisions? What is holding you back?