I know many people who don’t like public speaking and in fact go to great lengths to avoid it. I, however, am not one of those people. I completely dig speaking to groups and it might sound like I’m bragging when I say that but as usual, this is another confession of a weakness of mine.
As a very young girl I was given several “opportunities” to give speeches at school and at church and each time, I received so many compliments from people afterwards, that I became addicted. Addicted not only to speaking, but also to the approval I received afterwards.
And that’s only one area of my life where I became addicted to approval. I love it when someone notices my outfit, my haircut or tells me I did good work. Since college, people have been telling me I look like Meg Ryan and it never gets old. I still love it every single time.
Feeling good when we receive validation is not a problem in and of itself. It only becomes a problem if we aren’t getting enough compliments or if we need them in order to feel good about ourselves. Three years ago when I left corporate America where I conducted trainings in front of rooms full of people who adored me, to spend my days cleaning up after small children who didn’t really notice me, I went through some serious withdrawals.
I turned to social media to try to feed my addiction. I posted a lot more on Facebook and Instagram and felt a small tinge of joy when people liked my posts. I spent a lot of time on Pinterest looking for ways to make my house look better, my outfits trendier, my life more creative, or other things I thought could make me feel more whole. Like a gift with purchase, Pinterest now notifies you when someone else pins your pin like one more shot of, “oh yeah baby…I DO have really good taste.”
I still post to social media a lot and I have no plans or desire to stop and I still love to see likes and feedback. However, I have done a lot of work to be healthier about the level of approval I’m seeking. While I still appreciate a compliment, I don’t need it because I’ve done the work of learning to view myself as a rock star. If I love me, I don’t need you to. I can still appreciate it when you do, but I don’t need it and I’m telling you that is a bad ass way to live. It means instead of spending time seeking validation for myself, I get my own back and then go to work trying to lift up others. This is what I believe we are meant to do in life but when we are in a place of approval withdrawal or addiction it’s tough to genuinely do it.
Here are a few simple things that help me, which you might try on for size:
1. Get your own back. Literally, I tell myself, “It’s Ok, I love you and I think you are amazing and I will always get your back.” When I set out to speak to a group now, I am not speaking from a place of hoping they will like me, because I already like me enough. Now I can focus on what might help them love themselves without a hint of needing any validation. I’m an even better speaker now than ever before.
I talk to myself positively when I look in the mirror. I journal to myself about why I’m amazing. I pay attention to, and own all parts of myself which means my strengths AND weaknesses which I’m also completely aware of. I get my own back and I know I can count on me.
When it’s me cheering for me, I always have a raving fan.
Sometimes people don’t like what I have to say or write but because I have my own back, I don’t need them to. I can be curious about them and love them and still love myself when we disagree. It’s such a better way to live.
2. Notice when you begin seeking approval. Before posting to social media, I pause and ask myself am I doing it because I’m hoping for validating comments and likes? Am I trying to show other people how fun and happy my life is to convince myself of that? Or is it because I want to share a part of myself with others to invite connection into my life or to make someone else’s day with a small laugh or smile? For me, the first is unhealthy and feeds my addiction so I try to steer clear of it. When I notice my behavior is beginning to look like approval addiction, I go back to #1 and get my own back through positive self-talk.
3. Picture everyone as a sparkly jewel. The truth is, when we are judgmental of ourselves, we are naturally more judgmental of others as well. When we’re wearing the “some people are better than others” lenses we view everyone through them. Instead, try to view all people as unique and valuable like amazing jewels. No two are alike but all are valuable. If you’re sparkly no matter what, then I must be sparkly too!
4. Remember that what other people think of you is much more about them than you. This is a tough one to remember because of what we know about Democracy. Say what? Stay with me. If 19 of the 20 people I just spoke to loved what I had to say, and 1 person thinks I was awful, then the majority must be right. I was brilliant and that one person just has a problem. Right?
Maybe not. It could just mean that 19 people have more similar backgrounds and life experiences than the 1 odd man out. Nobody is right or wrong and even the 19 who loved me are doing so because of where they are at in their minds and their lives. It’s not about me. I am a sparkly jewel whether those people even heard my speech or not. I personally accepted that the negative opinions weren’t about me long ago, but when I recently embraced that the compliments aren’t about me either, I stopped craving them. Ultimate freedom!
This morning I saw Jennifer Lopez on the Today Show talking about how she has pretty major self esteem issues. You heard me. THE Jennifer Lopez often feels badly about herself. Because even though she has perfect skin and unlimited talent, she’s a person like you and me. And for every thousand J Lo fans there is a hater and it will always be like that for Jenny From the Block and for you and for me. It’s ok. It’s all good. Get your own back first. Monitor your behavior to catch yourself seeking outside approval. View yourself and others as the amazing valuable creatures we all are and remember that what other people think is truly not about you. You are amazing and you should know it.
Sending major love to you today.
I’m preparing some free webinars, videos and classes with you in mind. It’s my holiday “Favorite Things” extravaganza a la Oprah and it’s coming soon. Make sure you’re getting our Take Tuesday e-mails so you don’t miss out on any of it.