There was a young woman who went about her daily life doing what she could to please everyone.
She thrived off the validation she received for doing a good job and being useful and helpful. She was unknowingly striving to do everything perfectly to please her parents, her partner or boss and to fit in with what was expected in society.
Unbeknownst to her, she was caught up living in The Approval Trap. Yep, as if captured inside a cage, with no escape.
She was first to take on extra work even though she was already overloaded and stretched to her limit.
She would stay up late working trying to get that last thing done, even though she was falling asleep at her desk.
She was first to jump to a friends aid and abandon her own responsibilities.
She stressed herself out trying to get everything done at home so she would be seen as the perfect partner.
She had such high standards for herself that nothing was ever quite good enough.
This meant she would spend hours making finishing touches on work projects.
The house was never clean enough.
She never exercised enough or ate well enough.
She was driven and determined and was always acknowledged for her drive. She could be counted on to put her head down and get things done. She held a sense of pride and was validated for being a "hard worker", even though underneath the tough skin she was empty and exhausted.
When she achieved what she wanted she felt elated for a moment, but still felt like she hadn't quite done enough. She could have worked harder. Tried harder. Pushed more.
And so on she went and pushed on to the next thing and next.
She gained a glimmer of worthiness because of what she achieved. So she continued to speed through life, always looking for the next thing so she could continue ticking more and more off the list.
Great Job Tick
Great Home Tick
Perfect partner Tick
And as she achieved more and more she felt emptier and more disheartened than ever.
She felt this gaping hole and wondered "is this really it, is this really what life is all about".
She felt lost, trapped and out of place.
She was confused because she had worked so hard and done everything as expected, and that was the way it was meant to be right?
But the truth is, she was deeply unhappy.
Despite the seemingly good life around her.
She was feeling depleted. She was tired and lacking that drive and energy. She was over trying and working so dam hard for everything.
She was curious and not willing to accept that was it.
And so she began to embark on a path of deeper self-discovery.
Until one day she had a breakthrough.
She realised she had been striving and achieving as a way to gain approval from everyone other than herself. She had been looking for approval and validation of her worth in all the wrong places.
She had become disconnected from who she really was and her innate value as a human being.
It didn't matter how hard she worked or what she achieved, if she didn't feel good about how she was living or what she was doing.
What was the point if it was eating away at the depths of her own soul, just so she might be viewed as valuable, honorable or talented enough in others eyes.
The wool was lifted off her eyes when she realised she wasn't responsible for how others felt about her and she was only responsible for how she felt about her.
She breathed a sigh of relief and started to welcome in a lightness and sense of freedom.
She realised she needed to approve of herself and her choices. To respect herself and her actions. To accept herself on her path.
And importantly to stop comparing herself to everyone else, because in doing so, she constantly felt like she wasn't enough.
She realised that approval, respect, acceptance and love - all started with herself.
No one else or nothing else. Just self.
She needed to learn to approve, respect, accept and love herself.
And so the journey began, letting go of the criticism and welcoming in radical self-acceptance.
It started with awareness.
She would catch herself out when her inner critic was getting started with the criticism. She would take a deep breathe and affirm "I love and accept myself exactly as and where I am right now".
And in that moment with practice she was able to let herself off the hook.
She was free from the self-imposed burden and strain she had been putting on herself.
And it was then, in embracing the power she had within her to become the source of what she was seeking, that she was finally able to start letting go of the grip she had towards seeking such things from others.
And she realised she was free to fly.
To surrender and let go.
To follow her divine path.
To just be - and love just being herself.
To trust herself in creating her own unique life on her terms.
The ultimate freedom.
And so it was, she had escaped The Approval Trap and began to make life choices on her terms in alignment with her own truth.