A good chunk of my day is spent seeking out approval of others. It pains me (and is slightly embarrassing) to admit, but it’s the truth. Three examples:
- I do pushups and jog regularly – partially to clear my head and be physically fit, but it’s also to look attractive to my wife and be respected by others.
- I am planning to buy a Jeep this spring – mostly because it looks bad-ass compared to my two minivans (yes, I have two minivans).
- I work hard to grow this organization (MenLiving)- mostly to fulfill our vision to live in a more harmonious world, but there is certainly some ego involved in that I want to be viewed as a successful leader of a start-up organization.
Bottom line: How I value myself is contingent upon how others see me.
Here’s the problem with all of this: it’s a lie. My wife is going to love me regardless of my workout routine, nobody gives two shits if I have a Jeep, and people are busy enough with their own careers/livelihoods to be concerned about the influence MenLiving yields.
To me this is liberating. In the book The Fifth Agreement: A Practical Guide to Self-Mastery, the authors describe how people are busy “watching their own movie”. My wife, colleagues, and peers are busy watching their own movie, playing out their own scenes and characters. My problem is I assume they are paying attention to my movie, but in fact, they are quite absorbed in their own. My work is to stop outsourcing the approval from outside of myself (others) and instead know that it all comes from within. It’s an inside job.