“If other people do not understand our behavior—so what? Their request that we must only do what they understand is an attempt to dictate to us. If this is being “asocial” or “irrational” in their eyes, so be it. Mostly they resent our freedom and our courage to be ourselves. We owe nobody an explanation or an accounting, as long as our acts do not hurt or infringe on them. How many lives have been ruined by this need to “explain,” which usually implies that the explanation be “understood,” i.e. approved. Let your deeds be judged, and from your deeds, your real intentions, but know that a free person owes an explanation only to himself—to his reason and his conscience—and to the few who may have a justified claim for explanation.”
― Erich Fromm, The Art of Being
Oh, Erich Fromm, you speak such eloquent words. While I now adhere to your wisdom of late, I continue to seek the approval of some very key people in my life, namely my children. “We owe nobody an explanation or an accounting, “as long as our acts do not hurt or infringe on them.” Yet I did just this: hurt the two people I love most. How does one explain actions that are hurtful without continuing self-blame? The polarity of this dichotomy – I am moving forward, yet find this difficult to come to terms with – STILL.
As I grow, expand my experience in giving to others, now as a more whole and complete person, my need to understand heightens. I am not certain what to do with this. What exactly am I to let go of, my need for their approval? Somehow, holding on, this yearning, I’m able to hold on to a piece of them, however minute, fragile, small. Grasping for their approval of what? Acceptance? Not of my actions but who I am?
Life is a process, progression necessary. As much as I live by Fromm’s assertion, without closure I remain here; vacillation, torn – though true to myself, yet not willing to let go of this need. To the point: As much as I grow, more comfortable with myself, attain a new-found view of self-respect, I still give a shit about what my kids think of me.
Ergo, stop searching. If I am to earn their respect, must begin with me first.
“Once we give up searching for approval we often find it easier to earn respect.”
― Gloria Steinem