I loved this second Byron Katie book I read: I Need Your Love- Is That True? She takes her method and applies it to something that I know I have struggled with my whole life- trying to gain the love, approval, and appreciation of people around me and then, once I think I have it, hold on to it for dear life. For some people this love/approval/appreciation seeking behavior can manifest in romantic relationships, friendships, family relationships, at work, etc. I can definitely remember and pinpoint experiences where I have sought someone else’s approval as validation of my worth in some way in many different facets of my life. It’s been truly moving for me to read this book (in conjunction with her first book, Loving What Is) and apply it to my life.
Here are some of my favorite quotes and passages:
“…seeking love and approval is a sure way to lose the awareness of both.” (p5)
“Chronic approval seekers don’t realize that they are loved and supported not because of but despite their efforts.” (p6)
“When people take a fearful and rigid stance, they often bring about what they’re trying to prevent. Turnarounds open more space. They allow you to see how things can work out in a peaceful way, beyond what you had considered when you were defending a position.” (p21)
“A built-in part of developing a personality that’s designed to please is constantly watching for signs that you’re succeeding. This can be a stressful way to live. Anxiously focusing on the other person, checking for approval or disapproval, leaves nobody at home in yourself, nobody noticing your thoughts or taking responsibility for your feelings. This cuts you off from the source of real contentment. The outward focus also leaves unnoticed and unquestioned the inevitably painful thought that if you have to transform yourself to find love and approval, there must be something wrong with the way you are.” (p40)
From an exercise on separating out manners and politeness from approval-seeking:
“Notice when you make excuses, explain, or justify yourself… What do you experiences when you defend, qualify, or explain even your very existence? What are you afraid we’ll think or do if you remain silent and don’t defend, justify, qualify, explain yourself, or tell us what really happened unless we ask?” (p43)
“Your understanding of another person is limited by what you think you already know.” (p51)
“How can you know that a particular relationship is good or not? When you are out of sync with goodness, you know it: You aren’t happy. And if a relationship is anything less than good, you need to question your thoughts. It’s your responsibility to find your own way back to a relationship with yourself that makes sense.
When you have that sweet relationship with yourself, your partner is an added pleasure. It’s over-the-top grace.
Romantic love is the story of how you need another person to complete you. It’s an absolutely insane story. My experience is that I need no one to complete me. As soon as I realize that, everyone completes me.” (p70)
“We use our beauty, our cleverness, our charm to capture someone for a partnership, as if he were an animal. And then when he wants to get out of the cage, we’re furious. That doesn’t sound very caring to me. It’s not self-love. I want my husband to want what he wants. And I also notice that I don’t have a choice. That’s self-love. He does what he does, and I love that. That’s what I want, because when I’m at war with reality, it hurts.” (p73)
“This book could have been called The Two Major Universal Whoppers About Love… one…: ‘I need to win people over to make them like me’ (also known as ‘I can manipulate your love and approval’). Now we’ve come to the other one: ‘If you love me, you’ll do what I want.'” (p76)
–> “…there are two basic misconceptions about love: first, that you have to manipulate others to get it, and second, that love is about getting what you want.” (p88)
“If you’re not a clear communicator, you may live your life unloved and misunderstood, not ever realizing that if you just said what you wanted, your whole world would change…
Notice that once you have separated love from want, simply asking becomes much easier. But you have to ask. People can’t second-guess our desires; they aren’t psychic on cue.” (p83)
“I can tell you that when I have people’s approval is when I have it. How do I know that I need their approval? I have it. How do I know that I don’t need their approval? I don’t have it. And in either case, it has nothing to do with me. It’s their story about me that they’re approving of. What’s important is: Am I living in ways that I myself approve of? When I question my thoughts, I like the mind I live with. It not only leaves me alone, it leaves you alone too. That’s very peaceful, and I love it.” (p128)
I love her chapter on “What if My Partner is Flawed?” Using her method isn’t about just passively accepting everything and everyone in your life, but about questioning stressful thoughts. Questioning your thoughts is an active process, and will always result in peaceful decisions, whether they change your situation or not.
“The Work is never passive, though its results are always peaceful.” (p158)
“You may or may not be willing to put up with your partner’s apparent flaws. Whether you stay in or leave a relationship, there are always two ways to do it. One is in peace, with love; the other is at war, with anger and blame… Clearly see that his flaws are flaws in your own vision. Then let the decision make itself. It always happens right on time, and not one second before.” (p159)
“It’s not your job to understand me- it’s mine.” (p160)
In her chapter called “Five Keys to Freedom in Love” she calls out these five things:
1. Recognizing that “The word need suggests a permanent state of mind… How many of your problems today come from believing a thoughts about the future?” (p177)
2. You can make it without your fear: “Some thoughts seem too frightening to examine. Thoughts like ‘I couldn’t make it without you’ or ‘If my children died I couldn’t go on living’ can terrify you, and then, instead of asking if you really believe them, you might push them back down or live as if they were true and, as a result, feel anxious without knowing why.” (p179)
“Inquiry allows you to take the fear out of loss before anything happens to those you love. It also reveals the harm that fearful beliefs do to your relationships when everybody is still around and doing just fine.” (p180)
3. This moment should be happening: “One way to be miserable and confused is to conjure up a long-term need…Another way is to believe thoughts that object to the present moment. The two have a lot in common. In both cases you’re living in thoughts that separate you from what is; you’re arguing with reality instead of enjoying or simply dealing with it.” (p183)
4. ‘This is just what I needed’: the direct route to getting your needs met: “The direct route is to let reality be the guide to your needs. ‘What I need is what I have.’ This is not something to believe, it’s the way things are right now, whether you believe it or not.” (p189)
5. Whose business am I in now?: “It’s confusing and painful when you try to mind someone else’s business. This is especially true when the person whose business you’ve stepped into is someone you love. Often, you don’t realize that you’re doing this. Every time you try to second-guess what someone else is thinking or feeling, every time you believe that you know what’s good or bad for them, you have moved out of your own business and into someone else’s.” (p192)
“The only obstacle to loving other people is believing what you think, and you’ll come to see that that’s also the only obstacle to loving yourself… If you have any trouble with loving yourself, your work isn’t done.” (p204)
“Love is what you are already. Love doesn’t seek anything. It’s already complete. It doesn’t want, doesn’t need, has no shoulds. It already has everything it wants, it already is everything it wants, just the way it wants it. So when I hear people say that they love someone and want to be loved in return, I know they’re not talking about love. They’re talking about something else.” (p245)