“I have observed that many depressed persons, including myself, are given to approval seeking, some more so than others. It seems fair to call it a kind of emotional dependency. The children are truly and completely dependent on their parents, or whoever is taking care of them. They have no choice and are helpless. They’d better have their parents approval or else.
Some of these children carry this kind of dependency right on into adulthood , even to their graves unless they do the hard work of unlearning it. They have become so unsure of themselves, their opinions, thoughts and skills, that they feel an imperative urge to hurry to get someone’s approval that they are doing the right thing and that they are still okay.
When we, the former children, reach physical maturity, we find that people soon resent those who become dependent on them. They often become contemptuous of them – leaners, clinging vines, etc. We literally drive them away from us with our constant demand for reassurance, hanging onto them, and begging them to throw us a few crumbs of approval now and then. We become fearful of asserting ourselves at all for fear of retaliating, such as outright ridicule, not being given a seat around the campfire, the doghouse, prolonged silent treatment, or stopping cooking, etc. How can we avoid this treatment? Please them more, of course? Hardly. That brings only more contempt.
What will become of us? We will spend our lives doing what others want us to do. Not what we want to do. If it gets bad enough, we will have feelings of total worthlessness and self-loathing. Some will reach the point where they would rather die than to continue living with that yoke around their neck.
You can free yourself from this fetter, but it’s really tough depending how bad you are addicted. It will take determination and sustained effort. I mean, it’s worth it to finally breathe the air of freedom. And, you gave it to yourself. Start with a proven self-help program like our mutual aid program of Depressed Anonymous.
I include some words by Lao Tzu, 500 BC, who wrote the TAO TE CHING.
“Care about people’s approval
and you will be their slave.
Must you value what others value
and avoid what they avoid?
When you are content to be simply yourself
and don’t compare our compete
everybody will respect you. “okay
Article submitted by Bob P., of Evansville, Indiana, who is a founding member of Depressed Anonymous and one whose friendship and thinking I cherish. Hugh S.
SOURCE: SPRING ISSUE OF THE ANTIDEPRESSANT TABLET, 1995.