Thursday, August 19, 2010

Approval Vs. Acceptance

There are two types of relationships that we have in the world. Those that matter and those that don’t. I mean, technically, they all matter, but really -at the end of the day- who counts? Our family, our friends, those that have to live with us.... Yet somehow, I often find myself in situations where I am looking for other people’s approval. Mostly the approval of people that I don’t really know.

I will let you in on a little secret of mine. It may not be a very dark one, but it does go kind of deep. I have found this lesson lately in my horsemanship, I will take my horse to a show, or clinic, or some situation with other people, with this strange, underlying expectation that people will look at me and say “wow, what a great horseman!”, or that I will win all kinds of ribbons because I am simply the best. Now, we all know that that reality is a bit twisted, but somehow, this weird little part of my brain, probably manufactured in childhood, tells me that I must seek other’s approval. And for some reason, tells me that I must be worthy of other’s approval.....( I suppose that’s another topic entirely)

So what happens when I am in these situations, and lo and behold, I do not GET this much needed approval from these super important people who I barely even know? Well, I could have a mental break down, run screaming into the woods, beat myself up for being so stupid, hide my head in shame, etc. But, I do not do this, because I have a horse! What happens in these situations, I’m finding, is that instead of getting approval, I get acceptance. From my horse :)

What I experience in myself is a lack of perfection, which for some people can be frustrating (guess some people is me???). What I experience from my horse is partnership. She’s there, hanging in with me, saying, “Look, I’ve been with you up until now, I’m with you now, and I’ll be with you wherever we’re going. I love you for who you are, just like you love me. We are in this together.” If I make a mistake, she comes back and we try again. If it all comes together, we both are happy. They say you should let your horse be the one to tell you how you are doing, and she tells me every day with love, acceptance, and joy. So why should I get all crazy in my head about what other people say or don’t say? (again, another topic entirely...)

Approval is looking for someone to tell you about your accomplishments, or how well you live up to their standard. But is life about living up to someone’s standard, or is it about relationships? Acceptance is about being in a relationship that will support you, and love you for your REALITY, not just the best moves you can make. And it’s SO much better!