How to achieve self-approval above and beyond self-acceptance

self-approval
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We hear a lot about self-acceptance these days, but what about self-approval? Wouldn’t you rather go beyond mere acceptance to lavishing wholehearted approval on yourself?

Acceptance suggests tolerating. Do you choose to set such a low bar for your self-image? Self-approval instead means celebrating yourself and all the things that make you you.

Here are 7 tips for achieving the self-approval you seek and deserve to enjoy.

1. Look within for self-approval.

The obvious path to self-approval is looking within for validation rather than seeking approval outside yourself. You give away your power when you let others tell you if you’re good enough.

Self-approval is looking within for validation rather than seeking approval outside yourself. Click To Tweet

2. Speak self-approval.

Say out loud the things you like about yourself. Go outside your comfort zone with your self-approval affirmations.

Say things like, “I am powerful, magical, magnificent, etc.” These will make you feel different than repeating mantras that tell you you’re merely okay.

3. Focus on what you want.

When you put the focus on what you want instead of what you don’t want, you have a fighting chance of getting it.

When you move toward your goals and heart’s desires and they begin to come true, you unveil your power. Knowing you’re potent enough to make your dreams come true enhances self-approval.

4. Do more of what you love.

self-approval

We are usually better at the things we enjoy doing. If you spend more time on activities that enhance your joy and work to your strengths, self-approval increases.

Frustration and feelings of inadequacy follow slogging away at things you don’t enjoy. So outsource your weak areas as much as possible and build up your self-approval muscle by focusing on things you love.

Outsource your weak areas as much as possible and build up your self-approval muscle by focusing on things you love. Click To Tweet

5. Self care leads to self-approval.

When you take time to care for yourself, you tell yourself you’re worth it. Self-approval skyrockets when you ask yourself what you need and deliver it.

You may not have had your needs met in the past, but you’re no longer dependent on others to take care of you. Reparenting yourself means giving you the care and attention you never received as a child.

6. Set healthy boundaries.

When you stop abandoning your own needs and putting others first, your self-worth increases. What’s terrifying and hard at first becomes easier with practice.

Each time you say no to someone, you tell yourself you are worth protecting. Your time and energy are yours and not for everyone else to use up.

Read The Giving Tree as a warning of what will be left of you if you don’t stop over giving. (Hint: not much)

7. Never criticize yourself.

A lot of self-help literature aims to teach you how to deal with your inner critic. But, in the classic book You Can Heal Your Life, Louise Hay says simply: Never ever criticize yourself.

She teaches unconditional self-love and that means never speaking a critical word to yourself. Shame won’t create change, so focus on who you want to be in the future instead of dwelling on past actions.

What causes emotional triggers and how to overcome them

emotional triggers
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In recent years society has taken steps to protect us from potential emotional triggers. These include warnings on books and other media that give consumers the choice to avoid content that may unduly upset them.

First of all, what are triggers? These are events that create an emotional reaction in someone that makes them feel as though they are re-living a past trauma.

With this definition in mind, it’s easy to see why we’d want to help someone avoid such a situation. But, it’s impossible to avoid them all as they can come up in the course of everyday living, such as conversation.

So, it’s important to learn how to handle these events when they arise, rather than relying on warnings to protect you. Here are 5 ways to cope with emotional triggers.

1. Observe them.

When someone dominates conversation, I’ve observed myself detaching and my flight response kick in. I’ve experienced ringing in my ears and visual impairment when someone monopolizes conversation this way.

Taking note of my responses to this (admittedly) annoying but otherwise non-threatening act helped me get curious about where this trigger originated.

Turns out my first memory of feeling this way came when I spoke up to my abusive boyfriend about the way he dominated conversation. Observing my reactions helped me unearth an origin story that I could now work to overcome.

Observing my reactions to a triggering event helped me unearth an origin story that I could now work to overcome. Click To Tweet

2. Breathe.

Paying attention to your breathing slows things down in contrast to the panicky feelings that triggers induce. It helps you relax and counteracts the emotional overdrive you’ve been hurled into.

Deep breathing gives your mind something to focus on and can help relieve the somatic sensations that take over in the wake of an event. It grounds you in the present moment, offering relief from re-experiencing the past trauma.

3. Journal about your emotional triggers.

emotional triggers

Journaling can help you process the emotions that come up when you feel triggered. Organizing your thoughts this way helps make sense of them.

Writing down how you felt, what you saw, smelled, heard, etc., can help you spot patterns. These in turn can prepare you to deal with future events more mindfully.

4. Talk to someone about your emotional triggers.

Similar to journaling, verbal processing can help you deal with these events. Reaching out to a therapist, coach, or understanding friend gets the feelings out where they belong.

If sharing with a friend, make sure they understand the nature of triggers. These reside in the body and cannot be dealt with on a cerebral or “common sense” level, for example.

If sharing with a friend, make sure they understand the nature of triggers. These reside in the body and cannot be dealt with on a cerebral or "common sense" level. Click To Tweet

A well-meaning friend who tries to reason you out of your triggers is not the one to turn to for this type of verbal processing.

5. Leave the scene.

You may want to excuse yourself and go to the washroom. Take the time you need to collect yourself before returning to the scene.

You may also decide to go for a walk. The back and forth movement calms the nervous system and has science-backed benefits for mental health similar to EMDR.

What is self-connection and how to connect with yourself

self-connection
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Before you can be any good to the world or anyone else, you have to know yourself. That means self-connection, or re-learning who you were before you disowned the parts of you that felt unlovable.

Self-connection is an inside job and requires tuning into yourself apart from outside influences. Without it, we’re tossed to and fro by the opinions and expectations of others.

We end up living a life misaligned with our true desires. We fail to fulfill our purpose in life because we’ve denied the very things that make us who we are.

If you’ve felt disconnected or misaligned with your authentic self, here are 5 ways to self-connection.

If you've felt disconnected or misaligned with your authentic self, here are 5 ways to self-connection. Click To Tweet

1. Develop your intuition.

Listen to that inner guidance system that tells you which way to go and what to do next. Get quiet and eliminate distractions to hear the direction this voice provides.

There’s no guarantee your intuition will always be correct, but neither are all your outside advisors. And, if you take a wrong step as a result of your intuition, it’s one that came from an authentic place and will likely have something useful to teach you.

2. Stop people pleasing.

If you’ve been basing your actions on the desires of others, it won’t be easy to put yourself first. It takes practice and starts with figuring out what you like and dislike, then doing more of what pleases you.

Instead of looking outward for your validation, look within. Take care of your needs and let others take care of theirs. That doesn’t mean abandoning them, but setting boundaries around your time and energy.

3. Self-connection means making peace with your shadow.

self-connection

Many of us have disowned parts of ourselves that resulted in loss of love as youngsters. If something triggers you that’s often a sign of your shadow seeking the light.

Many of us have disowned parts of ourselves that resulted in loss of love as youngsters. Click To Tweet

If expressing anger, or even joy, made people withdraw from you, you’ll suppress those aspects of your nature and consider them bad. And you’ll experience shame and guilt when you do feel or express them.

Reconciling with these parts of yourself and making peace with your emotions drives self-connection. We need all the parts of us to make a whole, even those attributes we judge as wrong and want to disconnect from.

4. Start the day asking “what do I need?”

When we’re chasing goals, we forget to check in with ourselves and what we need. Instead we jump into our to-do lists in an effort to “crush the day”.

Goals are important (or not) but our first goal should be to nurture ourselves. I learned from Dean Graziosi to have goals for the way I feel first. You won’t get far trying to make progress on a depleted inner tank, anyway.

5. Meditate for self-connection.

Contrary to popular belief, meditation does not have to mean emptying your mind of all thoughts. In fact, it can look like quite the opposite.

Set a timer for ten minutes and let your mind wander. Observe the thoughts and emotions that come up and receive the messages they have for you.

If you want, journal what comes up for you. Know that writing down your desires makes them far more likely to come true.

Self-connection means learning to trust your internal compass instead of rushing for external opinions and validation. That requires time alone, away from the pressures and expectations of the world around you.

How to let go of the need to control

control
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Do you have control issues? If you find it hard to relax and make room for surprises in your life, there are probably good reasons for that.

One of them is childhood trauma. If you didn’t receive the love and security you needed growing up, you might control your circumstances as a way to feel safe.

If you were given too much responsibility as a child, you fear things will fall apart if you release yourself from the burden of micro-managing your life. You’re not used to receiving or expecting support to relieve the strain.

If you were given too much responsibility as a child, you fear things will fall apart if you release yourself from the burden of micro-managing your life. Click To Tweet

Another reason for control issues: you have a more organized and serious nature. These are excellent qualities but when they get out of balance can reduce your quality of life.

I’m an Enneagram 1 who keeps a tight budget and plans her calendar to the hour a week in advance. Lately, though, I’ve examined this need for control and how it hampers my equal need for fun and relaxation.

As I learn to invite in more of what I want, I realize how a rigid monthly budget has the potential to block me from attracting surprise income. And an uncompromising weekly schedule leaves little room for fun and spontaneity.

So, if you’re like me, how do you let go of the need to control things so tightly? Here are 4 ways.

1. Start small.

Instead of going cold turkey and eliminating your budget, can you create one that’s less “on the nose”? For example, I’d been in the habit of tracking each and every transaction as soon as I made it, right down to a $2 coffee or $1 iTunes purchase.

This sounds more like the actions of someone with a major spending problem who’s trying to get back on track. Since I’m already over responsible, letting myself off the hook will free up space for more lightness.

2. Face your fears around control.

Notice what comes up when you go easier on yourself. Do you fear you’ll wind up on the street if you let go of the strict budget? Or you’ll get nothing done without hourly time-blocking a week in advance?

Get curious about your fears and where they come from. Question whether it’s really true that you’ll be in the poorhouse or create nothing of value without your control measures.

Question whether it's really true that you'll be in the poorhouse or create nothing of value without your control measures. Click To Tweet

3. Learn to trust yourself.

control

Part of why I’ve kept to a rigid budget and schedule is that I haven’t trusted myself to spend wisely or get things done without them.

As I learn to trust my intuition, letting go gives me the opportunity to act from a state of flow. To do the next thing that feels right rather than having everything scheduled out ahead of time.

In Inspired Marketing Joe Vitale writes that his most profitable ideas have come when he’s listened to his subconscious mind. That part of ourselves is hard to access when we’re blindly following a tight schedule.

4. Temper control with a sense of play.

Most of us control freaks have atrophied our fun and playful sides with too much self-discipline. We want to relax and enjoy spontaneity but something in us won’t allow it.

It feels dangerous to let things unfold or change plans on a whim. But we need balance to lead full and satisfying lives.

Try a vacation without an itinerary. Stepping outside the hotel and going wherever the wind takes you can reap amazing rewards. Or pick a day and do whatever your heart desires from moment to moment.

Imagine the magic that will unfold when you let your intuition run the show instead of your stifling need for certainty. What an amazing possibility for self-connection.

How to deal with avoidant attachment and dating

avoidant attachment and dating
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I recently re-read Attached, a seminal book on the topic of attachment styles in romantic relationships. One section of the book addresses the issue of avoidant attachment and dating.

People with avoidant attachment style, the book argues, dominate the dating pool because their style values independence over relationship and avoids emotional intimacy.

People with avoidant attachment style dominate the dating pool because they value independence over relationship and avoid emotional intimacy. Click To Tweet

Securely attached people, on the other hand, tend to get into relationships and stay in them. They are comfortable with intimacy and communicate effectively. So, even though they make up more than half the population, they are less prevalent in the dating pool.

Anxiously attached people fear being alone and tend to go from relationship to relationship. Usually, those unions end because their neediness and poor conflict resolution scare partners off. They spend little time in the dating pool before finding a new love interest.

Independence over connection

Since avoidants value independence over deep connection, they will often bail when things get serious. Or they will never get past the non-exclusive phase to take the relationship to the next level.

They often see nothing wrong with their style as their minds have programmed them to view themselves highly and others critically. They believe their self-sufficiency equates with strength.

These are the people who consistently find something wrong with potential partners (no one is good enough). Or subconsciously push people away when they get too close.

You might recognize this quality in previous people who shut down attempts at deep conversation. Or who refused to discuss matters that would help both of you grow and understand each other.

It can be confusing when they seem so nice and outgoing, but refuse to leave the surface. You might start to second guess yourself and feel like you’re wrong for wanting more.

It’s also possible you’ve been avoidant and now realize those traits have prevented you from finding a fulfilling relationship.

Healing avoidant attachment

avoidant attachment and dating

If you want to move away from avoidant attachment and towards an intimate relationship, you need not pretend to be someone you’re not. Though minds are malleable and can transform through hard work, I don’t believe in fake it till you make it.

I do believe in understanding the hallmarks of avoidant attachment style in dating (read Attached) so you can see it in yourself and others. Then, steer clear of those who share your type and seek out securely attached partners instead.

As mentioned, these gems are more rare and, as a result, it will take longer to find one. In the meantime, view dating as a growth process. Rather than feeling defeated, take the opportunity to learn more about yourself.

View dating as a growth process. Rather than feeling defeated, take the opportunity to learn more about yourself. Click To Tweet

Remain open to self-examination and change. Are you making excuses not to see someone again? Withholding your thoughts and feelings for fear of moving closer?

You don’t have to give up your independence for a relationship. If you prefer to see someone once a week rather than every day, that’s not bad at the beginning.

When things get more serious and you need time alone, let the person know. Denying your true feelings will only bring up old habits of pushing people away. Open communication is key to a successful relationship.

If someone pushes your buttons, that may be a sign they’ve arrived to help you work on yourself. But it may also serve as a warning to run for the hills.

Each situation is unique and as you pay attention to your triggers and heal your attachment style, you’ll trust yourself to make healthier decisions. These informed choices move you closer to that connected, lasting relationship you desire.