During the current political season, we’ve been hearing a lot about poll percentages and approval ratings. Consciously, we want a candidate with convictions and principles that are unwavering. That seems to be at odds though with what we reward.
Focus testing and political advisers point candidates towards strategies designed to “up their numbers”. The positions stated and the specific words used to describe them are all too frequently motivated by external approval ratings more than the internal guiding principles of the candidate. This leaves us with an uneasy feeling about what the offered candidates really believe. We end up voting for the person we intuitively feel believes as we do on our key concerns – or the one who at least “messaged” on those issues the best.
This external political dance by candidates between holding firm on their essential beliefs versus total pandering to the public for approval ratings is ironically a dance most of us play in our personal internal lives. We all have core beliefs. We all want the approval of others. Just like the political candidates, our actions frequently fall somewhere between the extremes.
Imagine an approval rating scale where zero is where you never consider what others think of you and 100 is where all of your actions are guided by what others will think. Where are you on this scale? Where do you want to be on such a scale?
It’s natural to want the approval of others. Consider Maslow’s hierarchy of needs for a moment. After meeting basic physiological needs and then safety and security needs, Maslow says we then focus on the desire for love and belongingness. It was important in our evolutionary past that we develop the ability to live in groups. Our survival frequently depended upon our holding in check our individual desires and bending to the will of the group. This ability is hardwired in us.
Yet Maslow’s theory says if we meet our love and belongingness needs, we began to focus on the desire for self-esteem – the sense of being important. All too often though our importance is determined by either our popularity with others or our control of them. In both cases our sense of self-esteem is determined by external factors when in reality our true self-esteem should simply be driven by an internal knowingness that we are worthy, whole and complete just as we are without any need for external validation.
Maslow’s higher needs – self-actualization and self transcendence – are only met by letting go of our primary focus of justifying our value based on outside factors such as the good opinions of others. This is not to say we should never focus on what others think. In the words of Ken Wilber, we should “transcend and include” these lower needs. We transcend by letting go of external opinions being the primary factor of how we live our life. Yet we include the ability to recognize when it’s important to honor and acknowledge the feelings and beliefs of others.
This whole movement up Maslow’s hierarchy is representative of our evolution from our animalistic past where we focus on survival to our spiritualistic future where our focus shifts into thriving and becoming all we can be. As we make this shift – crossing consciously the bridge between our animal past and our spiritual future – we “include” our ability to appropriately consider and incorporate into our beliefs and actions the beliefs of others. After all, our wisdom tells us that we don’t know everything! Yet, we also “transcend” the need to please others all of the time. We recognize that true personal growth only comes at life’s edges where we may end up ahead of the crowd!
So where do you want to be on our approval rating scale? Certainly you don’t want to be at either zero or 100. At the low extreme, you would certainly be holding to your principles but you would also be callous and uncaring of others. At the high extreme, you would certainly be a people pleaser but you would also be unhappy that you were not being yourself.
There’s no one right answer here. However, it’s my belief that most of us need to let go of the need for a high “approval rating”. Where are you limiting your life out of concern for what others think? It’s time to be yourself. It’s time to express your life purpose. It’s time to evolve your life to a new and expanded level.
I know for you and I that today we all expand our sense of love and connectedness to one another but we also release our unnecessary need for approval.
Love and blessings,
PS. Don’t forget to sign up for our e-mail newsletter, subscribe to the feed or follow on Facebook. Check out the right side of the webpage….
Check out all of Mark Gilbert’s books—available at Amazon. Click here to visit his Author Page. This includes his recent one Our Spiritual Rights and Responsibilities. In this book, he offers what he suggests are the 5 basic rights we all possess by virtue of our being these spiritual beings on planet Earth — and our 2 responsibilities we all hold in relation to one another! Check it out!