The Approval Drug

David Masters

In this world of competitive hyper-driven personalities and ego-driven wanna-be’s, you are inevitably going to come upon a number of situations where you are challenged to prove yourself to someone for any number of reasons. Warning: Never try to prove yourself to anyone for any reason… because it is a dangerous trap to want or allow someone to approve of either your work, behavior or performance.

Let’s say for the sake of this discussion that you have a task and do your best at whatever you do, but for some reason it isn’t good enough for the person you are trying to prove yourself to… what happens?  When that person that you have given the power to appoint you a “success” turns on you and disappoints you and is critical, cruel and heartless in assessing the results of your test… what happens to you inside?  

Do you fall apart, does your life come to a screeching halt because someone doesn’t think you are good enough (did you have a parent, teacher or peer that did that to you)? Or, do you learn a valuable lesson which is: it doesn’t matter in the long run what people think of you whether it be good or bad… that’s because who you really are is not measured by how much people approve or disapprove of you.

Rather, who you are is measured (by God) by what you do from your own motivation and for the right reasons. There are countless thousands of wrong reasons for doing anything and even more reasons and wrong motivations to do something. Conversely, the right reason to do anything is very simple because the right reason is motivated by conscience, fairness, honesty and is free of emotionally fueled drive from a distorted ego seeking approval from a mere human.  

I admit that It’s not exactly easy to find the right motivation to do the right thing regardless of the outcome because we are all outcome-based creatures. We’ve been set up to be that way from early childhood and a good example of that is our eating habits formed by our relationship with mom and dad. Simple observation reveals that for children food is not as important as it is to adults for various reasons. But to most ‘grownups’ food is king.

I remember how so often I would see parents try to encourage or tempt kids to eat rather than allowing their natural appetite to dictate when that naturally happens (possibly a root cause of eating disorders stemming from either being pressured mercilessly or desiring to please). There are also bribes… If you look at desert objectively you’ll see that it’s a reward for eating! Really? A reward for doing what is a quintessential function of survival.

Third world people that are starving no nothing of the concept of dessert and further back, cave people didn’t know anything about after dinner mints.  For helicopter parents that dote over their kids, fear and guilt manifests in motivating and manipulating children for approval and or proof of loyalty. “EAT YOUR BROCCOLI OR THERE IS NO DESERT!”  “I did mommy, I did!” “PROVE IT!”

Remember when you waited for that sucker or that cookie or piece of cake as a reward for what you have just consumed whether it was good for you or not. The point is, we are human beings on the spiritual journey and even more so we are spiritual beings on a human journey and there are many side roads that can take us away from the true meaning of the Journey.

“who you are is measured (by God) by what you do from your own motivation and for the right reasons”

Needing to be loved or accepted always comes with some litmus test of proof… SHOW ME HOW MUCH YOU LOVE ME. We must be careful not to fall into the traps in which we are set up to fail by other people who have fallen (misery loves company).

The story of Mozart is an interesting example in the sense that his arch rival Antonio Salieri set him up to fail so that he would die a miserable death thus allowing Salieri to become the courts musician. Antonio Salieri believed that Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s music was divine and miraculous. He wished he was himself as good a musician as Mozart so that he could “praise the Lord” through composing.

He began his career as a devout man who believed his success and talent as a composer were God’s rewards for his piety. He’s also content as the respected, financially well-off, court composer of Austrian Emperor Joseph II. But he’s shocked to learn that Mozart is such an earthy and vulgar creature, and can’t understand why God favored Mozart to be his instrument.  

Salieri’s envy has made him an enemy of God whose greatness was evident in Mozart. So, he methodically takes revenge against God and Mozart for his own musical mediocrity by encouraging an increasingly sickly Mozart to work himself to death.

The knife in the back was made of words and ‘proving his worthiness” as Salieri also tried to prove God wrong by killing his terribly flawed servant. Truly there is a burden when it comes to proving anything, especially when it comes to being seen as “special’ or gifted.

So, live your life with the knowing that the secret of true happiness is “to thine own self be true.” Be real, and be grounded in truth so that the false fruit and gaudy ego rewards of this world have no effect on who you are. There is no greater reward on this earth than authentic freedom.

John 15:8 “My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. 

2 Peter 1:16-18 For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, “This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased”– and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain. 

1 John 1:1-3 What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life– and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us– what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.

This Simple Seven Minute Meditation Can Change Your Life

“learn the secret of how to control your responses, how to find that God-given switch in your mind which will allow you to energize and motivate yourself.”

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