The “Look Good” Religion

I was raised in a traditional religion, but my family had another religion that was more powerful.  I call it the Look Goods.  As a principal’s daughter in the rural midwest, how I looked and whether I  fit in seemed like the bottom line.  I can imagine now the beliefs forming in my six-year old head.  “Please approve of me,” which carried another assumption: if you did you wouldn’t leave me.”

I would belong. A powerful motivator for a first grader. What did I stand to lose if “they” didn’t approve?  Everything.  Security.  Comfort. So what I did was become inauthentic to gain that approval.  I began to do, to dress, to say what I thought would win them over.  I became a false version of me.

This involved a fair amount of people-reading and mind-guessing, and I never questioned whether I was accurate at this.  In fact, I found lots of proof that I was good at it. It only became a problem when I stopped being able to read myself, to live in my own mind.  I discovered that “they” hadn’t left me.  I had left myself.

My grown-up self  no longer believes in this religion, at least most of the time.  What I’ve learned slowly, time after time, is that when I pretend to be something I’m not it hurts.  I might have “their” approval, I might “belong,” but I’d lost myself. And the cost for that is greater than I’m willing to pay any more.

So now I get to “bust” my own lying self.  Each time I believe I should do something because “they” need me to or will appreciate me, approve of me, I’ve been taking a couple of deep breaths, checking in with my own gut.  Finding out where I do belong.   I’ve discovered I like me when I stop and breathe and ask.

What about you?  Do you notice what you’re willing to give up for approval?  You’re the one to decide where you belong and where you don’t, not them.  What are you believing that would keep you from finding the grace of living your own life?”

2 Responses to “The “Look Good” Religion”

  1. Paul Stennett

    I am only now discovering this truth. I have been ignoring myself for so long that I am having trouble figuring out what I like and don’t like, what I want to do versus what I believe others want me to do.

    Reply
  2. Deborah Penner

    For me it has looked like “I put myself out for you” Look at the words … “put myself out” … I literally did that in my home space as I made room this past fall for a love I hoped was “the one” …. His plaques and trophies of martial arts honor (30 plus years of old honor) took up almost two walls and bore down on me from my little space on the couch. His Affliction wardrobe collection, including jeans and probably at least 50 t shirts took up the closset space and his workout gear blocked my favorite cozy in front of the heater warm up spot.

    I literally put myself out to accomodate this love, and now he has moved back to his old stomping ground. He needed his space … gotta love it … there’s some irony there.

    I have mine now … I can breathe in my own home again, and 🙂 I am noticing the many ways … subtle and not so subtle that I put myself out in favor of someone or something else. Grand adventure !!

    Reply

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