Seeking the approval of others seems like a reasonable objective. It is through the approval of others that we experience connection and community. It is how we get to experience the feeling of belonging. But if we distort or hide parts of who we are in our effort to gain the approval of others then what is the price we pay for this deception.
This wasn’t who I was and this wasn’t what I believed in yet to gain their approval I was willing to distort who I actually was in order to gain their friendship. The other problem with this strategy was that I wasn’t really able to take in the friendship or approval they were offering me because in my head was the thought that the only reason they liked me was because I was putting on this phony front. If they really knew what I thought and felt they wouldn’t want to be my friends any more.
So this logical strategy, to gain the approval of others by imitating them, not only led me to feel like a phony it also prevented me from receiving the genuine experience of approval, connection, and friendship that my strategy was intended to provide This was a painful but incredibly valuable lesson for me because through this experience I discovered that the quality of my connection and friendship with others is in direct proportions to how much of me actually shows up in the relationship. It turns out that the more authentic I am the deeper the connection I actually feel. While the number of friends has diminished over the years the quality of the friendships I have has dramatically increased.
I am happier and more deeply fulfilled in my relationships today than I ever was when I was trying to fit in by behaving the way I thought others expected me to behave. Less...truly is more. By being more authentic we trade quantity for quality and the richness of these quality relationships is more than adequate compensation for the phony friendships we settled for in the past.