S2 EP132 – Are You Appreciative and Proud of Your Family and Friends?
Are you loving, caring, and supportive of your loved ones, or are you giving to them to get their approval? Are there people in your life who support you in being all you can be, but others who want to limit you from being in your personal power? Do you also limit yourself in being all you can be?
Hi everyone. Dr. Margaret Paul here with the Inner Bonding podcast. Today I will be speaking to the topic of whether or not you are able to feel genuinely proud, appreciative, and supportive of your family and friends when they are kind and caring, or they achieve a goal they’ve been working on achieving, and whether you feel supported by the people who say they love you.
Again, Dr. Erika Chopich, co-creator of Inner Bonding, came up with this topic, so I asked her to speak about it, and this is what she said.
“Sometimes people are proud of a loved one, but they’re proud of them from a place of self-affirmation and self-validation. If the loved one is doing well or looks good or is in some way successful, they believe it reflects back on them as though it makes them OK. It makes them look better, and that’s from the wounded self. I’ve heard that a lot, such as ‘I’m proud of my wife’ or ‘I’m proud of my husband,’ but the energy is, ‘Doesn’t that say a lot about me and how great I am that they are in my life?’ or ‘I’m proud of my kids because they got A’s and it validates me. I must be a good parent.’ All of that is from the wounded self. The other person can feel the energy of self-validation and he or she doesn’t actually feel seen or appreciated.
“When you’re proud of someone from your loving adult, there’s true joy in watching that loved one spread their wings and start to blossom, to realize their full potential and to live the life they were born to live. There’s deep joy and pride as you watch someone you love grow and expand and discover who they really are. There’s deep joy in that and deep gratitude. It’s a place from the loving adult where you’ll encourage that growth or support that growth or get out of the way of the growth. It’s selfless. It’s entirely about your loved one’s journey.
“I never felt that a single day from my family as a child or as a young adult,” Erika went on to say. “I never felt they had any pride in any of my accomplishments, because my family was highly dysfunctional. Everything was competitive. Anything I accomplished was experienced as a put down to my siblings, so they needed to best whatever I did. There was never any joy for anything I did, or any pride in what I offered or who I was as a family member. If you feel competitive in your family system or in your primary relationship, you won’t be able to be proud of your loved ones. You only see it as a competition.
“My parents we’re not only never proud of me, in fact they did the opposite. They tried to keep me down. My father’s goal for me in life was that I should be a dog groomer because he believed that was all I was capable of, and when I reached well beyond that, there wasn’t any pride or support for my growth. Instead, I heard things like, ‘Oh you’re going to fail. You’ll mess that up.’ Or ‘Who do you think you are?’ I heard discouragement instead of encouragement.
“So, when a person is coming from their wounded self, there’s either no encouragement or pride, or there is a faux pride that comes from self- enhancement. When the loving adult is in charge, there’s genuine higher self spiritually guided pride for the one you love when you see them spreading their wings and soaring as high as they can, and it gives you genuine joy.”
It’s always amazed me that Erika, coming from a very abusive childhood, is so capable of loving and of experiencing the joy of being proud of people she loves. Her support has been extremely helpful to me in spreading my wings. Like her, my parents were never proud of me. Mostly, they were indifferent to me. My mother was competitive with me and didn’t even want me to go to college. In my long 30-year marriage, I was actively discouraged from being all I can be. It wasn’t until Erika and I become friends that I experienced support in being all I can be. One of the joys in our friendship is that we often express pride and appreciation for who each other is.
Do you know that there is a big difference between approval and appreciation?
At one of my three-day intensives, we had a wonderful discussion about the difference between approval and appreciation. I had never thought about the difference until someone asked about it. As so often happens when someone asks a question, the answer came through me and through others and delighted all of us.
We realized that approval is generally something we give from our ego wounded self. Approval is conditional upon the other person performing in the way we want or expect. Approval is often manipulative – that is, we give it with an outcome in mind. We hope that the other person will continue to do what we want as a result of the approval.
Appreciation, on the other hand, is something we offer from our loving adult. It comes from the heart and is offered spontaneously as the heart wells up with feelings of pride, delight, awe, joy, or love regarding another’s way of being. Appreciation has much more to do with the person’s true essence than with performance. We are appreciating their true soul self, who they are and the results of who they are, rather than merely their performance. There is no attachment to the outcome, no expectation that the other should or will continue to perform. Appreciation is a true loving gift, while approval is often manipulative.
But, if you are relying on other’s appreciation to feel okay, then you are abandoning yourself by not seeing and valuing yourself. Often, when someone says they want appreciation or do not feel appreciated, what they are really seeking is approval. It is their wounded self who is not feeling seen and appreciated within. The wounded self then projects outward the need to be seen, understood, and appreciated, and pulls from others to get this need met. Whenever I hear someone say that they do not feel appreciated, I know that their inner child is not being seen and loved by their own inner adult.
When we are giving ourselves the attention and appreciation that we need and we then receive appreciation from others, it feels wonderful, but it is the icing on the cake, not the cake itself. When it becomes the cake itself, then we need to look within and recognize that we have handed over to others the job of defining and validating our own essence.
When you share something about yourself with the intent of getting approval, attention, or appreciation, it doesn’t feel like sharing to other people. Instead, they feel pulled at to validate you. When you share something about yourself with the intent of offering something to others, it feels like a gift. For example, this is clearly illustrated in the older movie, Good Will Hunting. In this movie the therapist, played by Robin Williams, shares much personal information about himself with his client Will, an angry and resistant young man. He shared it, not because he wanted or needed anything back, but purely to help Will feel safe in opening to his own pain.
We can all challenge ourselves to be aware of the intent of our communication when we offer positive feedback to others – is it a true gift or is it manipulative with strings attached? And we can challenge ourselves to be aware of our intent when we share things about ourselves – are we being loving and giving or are we trying to get approval and validation? Even when you believe you are being caring, it’s important to be aware of whether you are caring for the joy of it or for the outcome.
Many people have the ability to truly care and receive joy when caring from the heart. Yet even very caring people sometimes find themselves using caring as a form of control.
Take a moment right now to think about a recent situation in which you were caring or appreciative – at home, at work, with a friend, or with someone you don’t know such as a salesperson or a waiter. Are you willing to be completely honest with yourself regarding why you were caring or appreciative? If you are, then go inside and notice if your caring had any outcome attached to it. Is there something you wanted from the other person? Is there some reason you were caring or appreciative other than for the joy of it?
Ask yourself these questions:
- Was there some part of me that was trying to control what the other person thought of me? Was I behaving in a caring way to get attention, approval, validation, love, time, or sex?
- Was there a part of me hoping that my caring would result in monetary gain? Was I acting caring in the hopes of getting the other person to trust me enough to participate in some way that would bring me money?
None of us like to think of ourselves as manipulative, yet we all have a part of us that wants control over getting what we want, and we may have learned to use our caring and expressions of appreciation as a form of control.
While caring or expressing appreciation as forms of control may seem to work at times, they will never bring you joy.
You might receive approval or sex or money, but something will always seem to be missing from your life. Getting what you believe you want may feel good for the moment, but it will never bring you the deep joy that results when you are caring and appreciative and proud of loved one from your heart with no agenda or attachment to outcomes.
When we are appreciative and caring from the heart, we become, as Mother Teresa said, “God’s pencil.” We are giving to others just for the sake of expressing what is most beautiful about life – caring about each other. Giving support and appreciation to others from an open heart fills the soul with joy.
You can express this pure appreciation and caring only when you are also appreciating and caring about yourself through your Inner Bonding practice. If you are not giving yourself the attention, appreciation, validation, and love that we all need, then you will covertly be trying to get this from others. Others will pick up the “giving to get” energy and may not feel your “caring.” In fact, others may even become resistant to receiving your caring or expressions of appreciation because it feels controlling to them – and it is whenever there is an agenda attached.
We can be appreciative and caring purely for the joy of it only when we are taking responsibility for ourselves – for thinking and behaving in ways that lead to inner safety and a deep sense of self-worth. When we are not doing this for ourselves, then we need this from others, and we will be unable to be appreciative and caring without strings attached.
It is in our primary relationships with our partner, children, parents, or close friends that our giving to get has the most negative consequences. No one likes to be controlled by others, so when you give with an agenda, you may encounter anger or withdrawal. Your loved ones might not even know why they are angry or withdrawn. They just know that something feels bad inside them when you are appreciative and caring with a covert agenda.
While the outward behavior may look exactly the same when you are supportive and caring with an agenda or for the joy of it, energetically these two intentions feel totally different to others. If others are not responsive to your support and caring, you might want to honestly look at your intention.
The ability to have empathy and compassion for your loved ones is essential for creating loving, caring, and supportive relationships.
Empathy is the ability to feel what another is feeling. Compassion is deeply caring about one’s own and others’ pain.
Most people are born with both empathy and compassion as part of their essential selves. However, when children don’t receive empathy and compassion from their parents or other caregivers, they may shut it down. Other children may shut it down when one of their parents has deep empathy and compassion for others but not for themselves and ends up being walked on or abused because of it. The child doesn’t want to be vulnerable and walked on like the empathic parent, so may decide that it is safer to shut down the empathy and compassion.
Surprisingly, research shows that some people are born without the ability to have empathy, such as narcissists and sociopaths, and it’s important for those of us capable of empathy to understand that we can’t expect these people to support us and be proud of us when they are unable to feel empathy.
Once people shut down their empathy and compassion, or they are born without this ability, they can do great harm to others by being emotionally disrespectful, abusive, or physically violent. It is only when we feel into others’ feelings that we then care about the effects of our behavior on them. It is through our empathy that we experience our oneness with others and therefore cannot do them harm. When you are shut off from feeling into others, you may stop caring about them, and you are unable to offer true appreciation for them or feel proud of them in a way that brings you joy.
Some people have empathy and compassion when they are in an open state but shut it down completely when they are in their wounded selves. When this is the case, they too can do great harm to others, because there is no loving adult to set limits on acting out behavior or to care about and support others. Other people seem able to be able to stay open to their empathy and compassion, even when feeling angry or upset. Some part of their loving adult stays conscious even when they are being triggered into their woundedness.
Difficulties can arise in relationships when one person maintains more empathy, compassion, and appreciation than the other, especially during conflict. If one person is able to maintain his or her empathy, support, and compassion for the partner even when angry or upset, but the other person shuts down his or her empathy and compassion when angry, this creates an imbalance in the relationship. The more compassionate person may end up feeling abused by the interaction and may also be the one who usually opens and takes responsibility for patching things up.
Problems also arise when one partner, due to his or her level of empathy and compassion, cares deeply about the other person’s happiness and freedom, but the other partner, due to shutting down their empathy and compassion, does not support the other’s happiness and freedom.
It is only when individuals are able to stay open to empathy and compassion, for themselves and others, even when angry or upset, that they are reliable in their caring, support, and appreciation. Because caring disappears when there is no empathy, the partner on the other end of this may feel as if they are walking on eggshells. They never know when the caring will be gone.
If you have shut down your empathy and compassion, you can begin to open to it again by opening to compassion for your own feelings. It is unlikely that, if you shut down your compassion when you were a small child, you will be able to feel deep empathy, compassion, caring and support for others until you feel it for yourself. People who didn’t shut it down as children can feel it for others without feeling it for themselves, which is what often leads to caretaking. They give their caring to others but not to themselves. Caretakers often partner with takers, who have shut down their compassion for others and just want to get it from the caretaker. The caretaker ends up feeling very lonely because he or she is caring about others but no one, including themselves, is caring about them.
Relationships achieve growth and balance when both partners are intent on developing empathy, compassion, caring, appreciation, and support for themselves and for each other. Without empathy and compassion, there is no true intention to learn, because it is only the loving adult that is capable of maintaining empathy and compassion for both oneself and others.
We all have the ability to claim our personal power and manifest the gifts we have been given, but most of us need support in doing this. It’s truly wonderful when the people who say they love us are proud of us and receive joy for our joy.
How many of you had the experience growing up of being told in various ways to not claim your personal power and instead limit yourselves from being all you can be?
Do you remember the cartoon movie “The Incredibles”? This older movie is a wonderful metaphor for this. In The Incredibles, the superheroes – those with extraordinary powers – are restricted from using their powers.
As I stated earlier, when I was growing up, I was not supported in claiming my personal power, which is not to be confused with power over others. I was told things like, “Boys don’t like smart girls,” or “People will be jealous of you.” I learned to hide good grades and talents for fear others would be threatened. If I wanted to “fit in,” I needed to be like everyone else. Being extraordinary and personally powerful was considered “weird.”
In the movie, the superheroes are finally allowed to use their powers because they are needed to save the planet. This, too, is a metaphor. We are each extraordinary in our own ways, and this planet needs each of us to fully express our gifts and talents – fully claim our personal power. We need extraordinary people to step up to the plate to guide us away from fear, greed, and manipulation and into kindness, caring, compassion, and personal responsibility. We become role models when we fully claim our personal power. Fortunately, many more young people today are encouraged to be all they can be.
At the end of the movie, a horrible monster arises from the earth, saying something like, “We are the underminers. We undermine happiness, peace, and joy. We are always beneath you.”
Who are the underminers in your life?
Underminers are both within and without.
Outer underminers are those people who do not have your highest good at heart. They are the people who want to use you, blame you, manipulate and control you, and try to limit you. They are the people who are threatened by you being all you can be – threatened by your personal power. They are the people who want you to care-take them rather than take responsibility for yourself. These people can be family, friends, or co-workers – anyone in your life who does not support you in being all you can be. It is sad and lonely when the people who say they care about you, instead do all they can to control and limit you.
However, as adults it is our inner underminer who causes us the most damage. The inner underminer is the wounded self who holds our limiting beliefs – the lies we learned about ourselves, others, and God. This underminer shouts lies to us that cause our fears and anxieties and keep us from fully manifesting our personal power and being all that we are.
For example, Paul is a very competent man, yet every time he gets a new idea of something he wants to do with his work and his life, his wounded self says, “You can’t do it. You will fail.” His inner underminer keeps him immobilized and stuck in the illusion of safety.
Julia is a talented writer yet has never submitted her writing for publication. Whenever she starts to move toward submitting her writing, her wounded self shouts, “No one will listen to you. No one wants to read what you write.”
For a long time, Joanna has wanted to leave her job and go back to school for further training. Yet whenever she contemplates this, her wounded self sneaks in with the lie that stops her every time: “If you leave your job, you will never find another one. God will not support you in doing what you want to do.”
Robert is unhappy in his relationship. His girlfriend, Marian, just wants to be taken care of. She is often very angry with Robert when he wants to spend time with friends or even time alone and does not support him in what brings him joy. She is an underminer, yet it is his inner underminer that keeps him from leaving. “You will end up alone and be more miserable than you are now,” his wounded self tells him.
Suzanne was the “smart one” in her family, while her sister was the “pretty one.” Her parents undermined her by telling her over and over that she needed to learn to take care of herself because no man would want her. Now, a successful and attractive woman, Suzanne’s underminer constantly tells her, “You will always be alone. You are not meant to have a relationship.” Because of her underminer, her programmed wounded self, Suzanne approaches relationships with a chip on her shoulder, creating the rejection she is hoping to avoid.
“You can’t.” “You will fail.” “You are inadequate.” “Who do you think you are?” “You will end up alone.” “You are ugly.” “You are alone – God does not exist.” “Spirit will not support you because you are not good enough.”
The underminer – your wounded self, is devoted to undermining your happiness, peace, joy, and personal power because it believes this is what keeps you safe. Why not be a superhero, practice Inner Bonding, learn to stop listening to the underminer and start loving yourself? This planet needs you to claim your personal power.
It’s my experience that the more we see, value, and appreciate ourselves, the more others also see us, value us, appreciate us, and are proud of us. As I’ve often said, people tend to treat us the way we treat ourselves, so if you want your loved ones to be proud of you and appreciate you, practice Inner Bonding and learn to value yourself. And the more you see and value your own essence, the more you are able to receive the great joy of supporting your loved ones in being all they can be. When you are truly proud of yourself, you will find yourself feeling the joy of feeling proud of your loved ones.
I hope you join me for my online video 30-Day course to heal your relationships: Wildly, Deeply, Joyously in Love.
You can learn so much about loving yourself and creating loving relationships from my recent books:
- And, How to Become Strong Enough to Love: Creating Loving Relationships Through the Six-Step Pathway of Inner Bonding
And we have much to offer you at our website at https:www.innerbonding.com.
I’m sending you my love and my blessings.