Seeking approval:
“Why doesn’t my father appreciate me and all that I have accomplished?”

"Bicicletas para Alquilar" by Mimi Stuart © Live the Life you Desire

“Bicicletas para Alquilar” by Mimi Stuart ©
Live the Life you Desire

In the presence of close family members we often revert back to the way we were when we were children. We may still crave approval that we feel we never received. Siblings may easily trigger us.

The trouble with seeking approval is threefold:

1. The approval we seek may be sought from someone who is incapable of giving it.

2. The more we yearn for that outside approval, the less likely we are to receive it. Often people who are reluctant to give approval are negatively triggered by those who yearn for it.

3. By the time we are adults, the disapproval we sense has become internalized. Therefore, we have to generate the approval we seek within ourselves rather than seeking it from others.

Even if your father finally sees the light and says, “You are amazing! I am so proud of you,” you will probably not feel that magical feeling of self-worth you’ve desired for so long. By the time you’re an adult, the feeling of inadequacy stems from your own inner voice—that internal voice that has been with you so long.

Transforming the internal voice

It is up to you to transform the voice in your head. This may be as difficult as transforming your real father. However, it’s a relief to know that we actually have considerable control over our own thinking.

We can develop new habits of thinking and thereby create that sought-after approval or desired peace of mind. You need to catch yourself every time you have a negative thought and replace it with a positive one.

For instance, when you hear an inner voice saying, “You’ll probably botch the interview,” replace it with, “I will prepare for this interview as well as I can.”

When you say to yourself, “I’m the dumbest person here,” with “Nobody here is perfect; I’ll just do my best.”

Replace the thought, “I’m never good enough for him and he won’t appreciate me,” with a more positive thought: “Too bad for him that he isn’t able to show his appreciation, but I know I did a good job.”

After fifty or a hundred thought replacements, each successive one becomes easier. After a few hundred or thousand replacements, the habit of negative thinking will have changed. It sounds like a lot of effort, but we have many thoughts a day, and it’s better to start changing our thinking now than continue with negative thinking.

Constructive thinking, which is encouraging, useful, and pleasant, will become more automatic, and you will no longer crave or need approval from the outside. Ironically, when people stop craving approval from others, their confidence grows, which makes it more likely that they will gain approval from those closest to them.

by Alison Poulsen, PhD

Read “Feeling Shame: ‘I’m not worthy to be loved.’”

Read “Rebuilding your Life: ‘How do I silence their abusive voices in my head, stop being hard on myself and start living?’”

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How to Increase Interest and Desire in your Relationship

“Perfect Swing” — Paula Creamer by Mimi Stuart ©


In a good long-term relationship, curiosity, interest, fun and desire thrive because there is adequate independence in the relationship. Here are some suggestions on how to avoid too much emotional fusion and codependence, which will smother the mystery, fun and desire in a relationship:

Don’t express every feeling and thought.

Hurt feelings, misunderstandings and other stresses will inevitably occur in any relationship. So you need to be able to communicate effectively, that is, being candid while having compassion. Express yourself briefly and on point, and ask yourself “is what I am about to say/do/ask helpful or hurtful, and is it necessary?”

Do not communicate every thought and feeling, and become annoying and tedious. Constantly expressing what’s on your mind is unnecessary and a sure way to kill all curiosity and ultimately the relationship.

“I’m bored.”
“I’m lonely.”
“I’m hungry.”
“I don’t like the way she talks.”
“I gained weight and feel sluggish.”
“I think I’ll have a cookie.”

Try to contain the more mundane thoughts and feelings, and express only the more interesting and important ones.

Don’t be controlling.

People generally become controlling out of their own insecurity. They may assume that if they can control the other person’s actions and thoughts, they might avoid potentially losing them. The opposite is true. The controlling person becomes oppressive and undesirable, making others want to flee.

Avoid nagging, pushing and managing your partner. Avoid telling your partner what to do or what to think all of the time. Allow some freedom, independence, and space between the two of you – it’s important. You want to be with a separate individual, not a puppet.

Don’t be needy.

At the beginning of the relationship, you may have felt whole and fulfilled as though all your needs were being met. But many of those feelings of fulfillment are a result of the initial excitement of falling in love, as well as your own projections, that is, your fantasy of who that other person is.

When you continue to expect another person to satisfy all your needs, you burden the relationship with your own unrealistic expectations. No other person will totally satisfy your emotional needs. You need to meet those needs yourself.

Enjoy your time together, but don’t require your partner to validate you constantly and to fulfill all your needs. That will only lead to disappointment and resentment.

Enrich your life.

If you want to feel desired, you need to be desirable. People shine when they live a full and vital life, engage in interests and with a variety of people, and have independent thoughts and pursuits. So pursue your passions and nourish your friendships.

Some partners may feel threatened by this, but the alternative is worse. Restricting your life by eliminating your passions and other friendships will ultimately doom the relationship and your own life to misery and meagerness.

You can start with small steps. When you see how effective those steps are, it will become easy, fun and rewarding to make your life more abundant and multifaceted. For example, do some things on your own or with friends instead of always waiting at home. Suggest new activities to your partner, but if he or she is uninterested, then go do it alone or with someone else. Take a walk, see a movie, take a trip to the beach, take up a new hobby, travel on your own or with friends.

You will become more interesting, fulfilled, and desirable.

If following these suggestions is difficult for you, you can get help and learn specific actions to take to develop healthier loving relationships at Co-Dependence Anonymous or with a good cognitive behavioral therapist.

by Alison Poulsen, PhD

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Turning a Complaint into Enticement
“We never go dancing or do anything fun anymore!”

"Dazzle" by Mimi Stuart ©
Live the Life you Desire

So what I really meant was…

“Let’s go dancing!”

Exaggeration and blame make a person feel defensive instead of accommodating. Self-pity is unattractive—definitely not a seductive way to get someone to want to go dancing with you!

When people demonstrate personal authority and show excitement, they have a lot more magnetism than when they complain. Expressing desire is more effective than expressing discontent. So communicate in a positive, irresistible way:

“I’d love it if you came dancing with me tonight/next week/every Saturday!”

If the answer is “no,” find someone else to go dancing with, go on your own, or find something you both want to do together—but express yourself in a positive way, remembering that the goal is to enjoy your time together.

by Alison Poulsen, PhD

Read “Spending Time Together as a Couple.”

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“If ONLY I found the right person to love, then I would be happy.”

"Light" by Mimi Stuart©
Live the Life you Desire

While I am all for the right person, happiness, and love, it’s more likely that you will experience all three if you live your life knowing that No one can fulfill your unfulfilled deepest needs and desires but you. If you are generally unhappy, no one can or will make you happy.

You may imagine that a particular person’s love and care will make you feel whole. But eventually any dependency on someone else for your feeling of wholeness will lead to disappointment and resentment.

When you fulfill your deepest needs and desires the best you can and engage the world from a sense of wholeness (not that anyone is perfectly whole) rather than from a sense of emptiness and need, then you are more likely to dance in and out of the realm of happiness and fulfillment.

by Alison Poulsen, PhD

Read “Why didn’t you call me?”

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How To Respond To Malicious Gossip

Click on the picture below to watch the short video:

Malicious gossip is negative and brings everyone down. This video includes several examples of ways to respond to someone rumor mongering and gossiping maliciously.

Malicious gossip can involve maligning another person and making hurtful negative judgments or the spreading of sensitive or confidential information. If you gossip a lot, you will attract other people who like to spread rumors and thus don’t have much of interest going on in their lives. Distorting information, talking “dirt”, and bringing other people down will affect your life negatively.

How do you respond to unwelcome gossip?

First of all, you don’t want to encourage gossip with curiosity and further questions. Nor is it necessary to become overly hostile and angry at the gossiper.

1. You can have empathy for the person being gossiped about. Take the other person’s side and show compassion.

2. Respond with humor.

3. Change the subject.

4. Turn the tables and focus your attention on the gossiper and what’s going on in his or her life. For example, “You seem to want to talk about who Susie is sleeping with. How about we talk about who you’re sleeping with!”

5. Be direct. Say you’re uncomfortable talking negatively about other people.

6. Finally, you can avoid persistent gossipers and leave.

While harmless gossip is fine, malicious gossip is not inspiring and does not enhance people’s lives. Freeing yourself from malicious gossip will give you more time to enjoy life or to talk about more interesting subjects.

by Dr. Alison Poulsen

Watch “How to distinguish between harmless and malicious gossip” https://www.youtube.com/my_videos?o=U.

by Alison Poulsen, PhD

Watch “Distinguishing Harmless from Malicious Gossip.”

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The Positive Effects of Cheerfulness.

"Carpe Diem" by Mimi Stuart©
Live the Life you Desire

Cheerfulness is a powerful emotion, which is similar to gratitude but more forward looking. It is a can-do attitude of making the most of what occurs in our life. Research shows that cheerfulness materially changes brain chemistry helping enhance mental and physical health. The positive effects of cheerfulness on the quality of our own life and our relationships cannot be overstated.

Being cheerful does not entail refusal to acknowledge the difficulties that arise in life. There is an important place for painful emotions. Thus, Pollyanna cheerfulness can be false and annoying in its naïveté. However, having a cheerful attitude involves a reasonable willingness to take on life’s challenges instead of sitting back and complaining.

No matter what struggles we face, we can still develop a cheerful attitude. This does not mean that we don’t feel the pain or are not aware of the challenges that exist. It means dealing with life’s difficulties with the positive expectation that we can overcome them, or at least that we will give it our best shot.

by Alison Poulsen, PhD

Read “Facial expressions: She says I frown all the time. That’s just me.”

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