The association that exists between love and approval is one I see over and over again in therapy. Formed usually in childhood, we begin to make links as to how to get affection and attention from our caregivers. Sometimes this comes when we are good or quiet, other times when we ‘take care of.’ Very often, love and approval is linked because of an emphasis on achievement or success; talent or beauty.
Our attachment system is one that guides us to seek unconditional love; when we associate love with approval, we have been taught that love is conditional. Patterns can get repeated with our intimate partners and with our children, as we often carry that association into our adulthood.
But you can never be free when love and approval are linked. What brings us freedom is acceptance. And if we couldn’t get it from our caregivers, the greatest gift we can give ourselves (and therefore our loved ones), is to begin accepting. That we can’t always get it perfect, that we sometimes make mistakes. That it isn’t our job to be responsible for someone else’s happiness, that we can have confidence in our own identity. We can remind ourselves that beauty comes from the inside and that we can live simply and still be rich.
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Photo credit: https://unsplash.com/@wyron