Art by Stephen Cade
I grew up with parents who loved me unconditionally. However, I can't say that they approve of me or my actions unconditionally.
When I was in high school I didn't give a flying fuck about their approval. I knew they loved me, but they were really strict. I rebelled as hard as I could. I always approved of myself because I was having, pursuing and being fun.
Once I made it through a couple rough years of undergrad, I started wanting to get along with my parents better. It was great, but I realize now I started approving of my desires and actions less and less. I was using their approval scale--grades, weight, job. In high school I didn't care about those things at all.
I've been practicing self love using mantras like, "Jessica I love and accept you exactly the way you are," and it's felt a little off. Deep down, I know I love myself. I think I'm pretty great, and when I step back to watch the story of my life, I think it's a pretty cool story. I do love myself.
But then I read You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay. The first affirmation she suggests using is "I approve of myself." I didn't quite get it until this morning, when I heard myself thinking, "I just want some approval!"
Immediately I started saying "I approve of myself" over and over. I began to feel better and better. When I said, "Jessica I love and accept you exactly the way you are," I felt guilty. Like, "I love you and accept you even though you are bad in the following ways." But when I say, "I approve of myself," I feel like I own my desires and am proud of myself. "I love myself the way I am" feels like I am flawed. "I approve of myself" feels like I'm kicking ass and don't need anyone else's approval.
What is your approval-to-love ratio? Do you find yourself feeling fundamentally unloved, or just needing a little approval? Give "I approve of myself" a shot and see if it makes more sense than focusing on the notion of self love.