August 27, 2015

Leaving the Inner Mean Girls Club—Confessions of a Recovering Approval Addict.


The Inner Mean Girls Club is a secret club.

The members of this club have taken strict vows of silence and although we are members in good standing, we never actually discuss with others the secret inner-workings of our club, as that would leave us appearing less than perfect and feeling acutely vulnerable. And although I have been a member in this club for over 40 years I recently exited through the backdoor.

No one even noticed I left.

The club is officially referred to as The Benevolent Order of The Approval-Addict. The club is not overly picky or elite, in fact it will and does take members from all walks of life, all socio-economic levels, every race. The only restriction—female only.

We are like a tribe of women who have lost touch with their inner wisdom, their intuition, something they are born with but hand over, usually by the age of six-years-old. The trifle that is left after age six is often “kept in hiding” and seldomly used for fear of offending others or looking “untoward” or “unfeminine,” or “problematic” or “angry” or “hysterical.” God forbid.

We are “approval addicts” and our numbers are growing. I am happy to report that I am now among those in recovery. That is why I slipped out the back door sight unseen.

Approval addicts come in varying shades. There are as many personality differences among approval addicts as there are hair color. My shade was a tri-blend of “performer”,  “perfectionist” and “helper.” This means that I spent most of my life as a full-fledged overachiever—I was terrified of being judged and if I made myself invaluable to others I would in turn receive love and security. Now you can see why this is a secret club. It’s incredibly embarrassing. But, I have come to learn that the only way to deal with approval addiction is head on and that means admitting it and seeking change at the soul level.

The Benevolent Order of The Approval-Addict further includes, although is not limited to:

The failure/risk avoider. This may manifest as one who is exceedingly terrified of being “too open,” vulnerable or speaking her truth. This human is unable to say what she means, at any time.

The Chameleon. This may manifest as one who blends in and has a honed ability to adapt to people and situations quickly, efficiently and unnoticed. This woman’s skill at picking up on social and psychological cues allows them to affect an ever changing personality to match the setting they find themselves in as a device to be more readily accepted. They perceive themselves to be not necessarily acceptable on their own merits.

The Judge. This may manifest as one who chooses to strike first! Overly concerned with being rejected, this woman often dismisses the opinions or expectations of others outright in an attempt to thwart the criticism they fear from others. Often she is petrified of rejection and in a misaligned thinking process often succumbs to the base desire to hurt others through words or deeds in an attempt to diminish or shame others all based on the flawed concept “better them than me.”

Women are initiated into this society of pain as small children and learn that setting boundaries is tantamount to being unlovable. The thought goes something like “If I say what I really mean, or do what I really want, or live authentically, no one will like me.”

By the age of five-years-old our brains develop a coping mechanism that will direct our ability to manage any and all relationships in which we are involved. We are allowing a brain that developed as a controlled, often confused and often afraid toddler to direct our relationships with everyone including parents, siblings, our spouse, lover, children, boss, friends, teachers, P.T.A president, Rabbi, doctor, hair stylist.

Our motto is, “Give us approval or give us death.”

Approval Addicts look outward, not inward. We lose the connection to our primal intuition, our deepest knowing, our core essential self, our soul-spark.

“When we lose touch with the instinctive psyche, we live in a semi-destroyed state and images and powers that are natural to the feminine are not allowed full development… subsumed by the culture, or by the intellect or the ego—one’s own or those belonging to others.” ~ Dr. Clarissa Pinkola-Estes, Women Who Run With the Wolves.

You may be asking, “What the hell am I supposed to do about it now?”

Relax and understand that recovery from this addiction is not difficult. There is no 12-step program required. It will require consistency, gingerly, with great self-compassion.

You begin by accepting that you (we) are born in our original state, pure radiant perfection and you must return to this original state. You must be willing and ready to see yourself for the first time, including learned flaws and all and decide to change the game. You must be willing to let go of the myth and unlearn the programming.

You must “feel” your true connection to a universal benevolence and claim your inheritance—pure acceptance and unconditional love.

Then you begin dissolving thoughts. You must break down everything you think you know, look at it afresh and possibly take your key inauthentic beliefs, those limiting, marginalizing beliefs and turn them upside down and quite possibly inside out.

This is mandatory if you choose to live your true boundless, blissful life. Today, perhaps you could decide to make a shift. Perhaps you could consider how limiting beliefs exist in your life?

Try asking yourself some simple questions:

Which approval addict personality might describe me?

What are some of the common stories or beliefs I continue to tell myself that keep me trapped in this addiction and unable to live my one true life?


Relepahnt read:

A Social Chameleon does it in Disguise.


Author: Sarah Saint-Laurent

Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock

Photo: flickr

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