I have been waiting for the state of Texas to approve my LPC license for almost two months, and it's agonizing. I keep thinking, "Did I forget something on the application?, "Did I not meet all the requirements?", "Am I not good enough for the state to approve me?" I was explaining all these worries to my husband and hearing myself say them out loud, and I realized just how important approval is for all of us. Am I good enough, smart enough, attractive enough, and will someone please tell me so?
I think back to childhood and look at my own children to know just how important it is. We gauge our progress by how others respond to it. We look to those with more knowledge and experience to tell us when and how we've reached milestones. We look to our communities to define success and failure. We look to our families to be proud of us, and we shudder (even if it's secretly) when they are disappointed.
What happens when we are consistently lacking the approval of others? I become overly anxious and worried, even sort of obsessed with my desire for it, unable to stop thinking about it. My self-esteem is effected as I question whether I'm worthy of it. We can all remember how we felt as children when when not praised or encouraged in our school work, our performance in sports, or our household responsibilities. What if we were ignored entirely or felt invisible to those around us? Self-worth is partially an internal process, but highly influenced by how we are perceived by others.
So perhaps we should take time today to voice our approval of those around us in some small way. Whether it's your child putting his dishes in the sink, your employee faithfully showing up for work each day, your parent talking you through a difficult situation, your doctor giving you news from your latest labwork, and anyone else whose actions make your life easier, take time to say, "You are awesome, I approve of this good work you are doing!" Hearing it and saying it are ways to stay healthy and whole in our ever-so-social human world.
Here's to the my approval from the state of Texas, hopefully!
Kambria Kennedy-Dominguez, Counselor and yoga teacher specializing in mental health, substance abuse and wellness.