Struggling with Anxiety
Sarah had always been a good girl. She wasn't perfect but always seemed to do the right thing. She completed all her homework and was a good student, even through college. She didn't drink or smoke or sleep around. She was given a lot of responsibility at work because she was the one everyone could count on. Sarah was kind and well liked. But Sarah had a secret.
Sarah craved approval. She wanted to be liked and would do whatever it took to get it. She worked harder than anyone else. She complimented people. Sometimes she lied. When she felt the disapproval of others, whether real or imagined, she became very anxious. She would ruminate on what she did wrong and try to find a way to make it better. Sometimes in this state of anxiousness she would eat...
The need for approval is universal. We all need some approval from somewhere or somebody. The problem isn't the need for approval. The problem is the inability to tolerate disapproval. Because the truth is, we will all face disapproval.
Sarah seemed to do okay until she found herself in a situation where she couldn't win. Her parents wanted her to come visit for Christmas. Her in-laws wanted the same thing. She had her parents on one side and her husband and in-laws on the other. She could only please one side. She would disappoint the other. She found herself twisted in knots trying to find a way to get the approval she craved. What is a woman to do?
Sarah's problem could only be solved by putting one person's approval at the top. He had to please herself. What she wanted had to be first and foremost. Trying to live your life within someone else's comfort zone always feels like a trap. Could she do it? Could she be that selfish? Could she live her life like she wanted? Where would she get permission to do such a thing?
Like all of us, she had no one to give her permission to live her life as she pleased. It was simply going to be a risk that she decided to take. And she would have to tolerate the disapproval and judgement of others.
At first it was very difficult. She would stand her ground and then cave when someone got upset. But then something very important happened. Sarah got angry. She was angry that other people got what they wanted and she didn't. She was angry at all the extra effort she had to expend. She was tired and she was angry that she was always tired. It was this anger that allowed her say, "It's my turn to do what I want."
All emotions have a purpose and her anger was there to protect her and allow her stand up for herself. It was this anger that mobilized her to action. The anger allowed her to tolerate the disapproval that came. The anger gave her permission to please herself first and foremost. Once she began to give herself and her needs the proper priority, her anger dissipated. But it was always there waiting in the wings.