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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.  


  • Mike Rosen says:

    Todd-thank you for that. I love that phrase/idea about how busy I am watching my own movie. Such an apt analogy. I think there’s wisdom in the realization that the world doesn’t revolve around me nearly as much as I think it does…

  • Hey Todd: I love you and the Jeep. Yes, I do require that you stay amazingly fit and feel the need to perform for love and acceptance. Just for clarity, I feel the same alot. However, this is the opportunity to understand the simple concept: internal locus of control v. external locus of control. As I grow to look internally to my own love, self-acceptance and approval, the projections of the outside world diminish equally to my internal journey. For all us, this is profound work. Glad we are in it together. Cheers

  • Steven D Kovacs says:

    My favorite part about getting older; accepting the fact that other people don’t pay much attention to how I look or what I do.

    I’m finally at a place where I have the best of both worlds. I feel good when I look good but I also don’t stress about the times I don’t.

    My family and friends want me to be kind, loving, and honest. That’s about the extent of their expectations.

    That Jeep is badass. I hope you get it and I hope you feel great driving it.

  • Jason Samatas says:

    I love your vulnerability here Todd. Really powerful and I can certainly identify with many of your thoughts. As I read your post, I personally feel things are more nuanced. Using your pushups example, there’s no question Cathy will love you if you weigh 185 or 285. However, can doing pushups and taking good care of your body make you that much more attractive to her? I believe it will. Will a Jeep in itself make you look cool? No, but will driving a Jeep make you feel more free and proud that your driving a car that makes you feel good? I believe it will, and that is what I think people will see — not the car, but the person driving the car and how he comports himself with ease, freedom, comfort, happiness, etc. So I’m not sure I describe all your initial comments as being a “lie”. To me, I view them as not being primary drivers of our self worth and happiness. But I agree with you 100% – all of our approval should come from ourselves. Easier said than done, but that’s where it should always originate. As always, thank you for sharing my brother.

  • Todd Adams says:

    Thanks Jason. I think the heart-center of Cathy will ultimately love me if I’m doing my work by not outsourcing my need for approval from the outside. I think I will be more attractive to her by doing that work.
    Regarding the Jeep- there is something underneath my want for a Jeep. The Jeep represents a feeling I will get for having it and driving it around. The Jeep itself doesn’t make me feel good. I make myself feel good by what I believe the Jeep will give me. When I go deep, the feeling I get from owning it is possible with or without the Jeep. All the need for approval resides inside of me and not from doing pushups or owning a Jeep. On my good days I know this, but most other days I simply want the Jeep. It is me wanting something I already have. Would love to talk to you more about this if you’re willing.

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