There are three things that we all want: acceptance, approval, and to be appreciated. I call them the three A’s. They are each expressions of love, which is what we really want the most. We want to feel validated, that we matter, that we are capable and good enough,and loved and accepted just the way we are. Often when a person is feeling down in life, it is because they are not getting their 3A needs met. We fear rejection and failure, because then we don’t get the 3 A’s. When we doubt ourselves, we look for acceptance, approval, and appreciation from an outside source. As children it is normal that we first look to our parents for the 3 A’s. Since parents are imperfect, sometimes we got the acceptance, approval, and appreciation we were looking for, and sometimes we didn’t. Some got very little or none of the 3 A’s from parents, some got a healthy amount. As we grow older, we tend to look to our friends for the 3 A’s. That can be really rocky; we don’t get to choose whether people accept us or not. This puts us on a roller coaster; when enough people like us, we feel good, when people don’t like us we feel bad. As we continue to age, there are other things we can turn to in hopes of getting our 3 A’s. Some people rely on their ability to perform. Whether it is playing a sport, music performance, good grades in school, or being good at something else, we hope that success will give us acceptance, approval, and appreciation. This is can also be a roller coaster, because fame is fickle. When we are doing well, we gets lots of applause, and we feel good about ourselves. If we aren’t doing as well (the team lost, we didn’t get an A in chemistry, someone else was won the award, etc), then we feel bad and have self doubt. Some people turn to money and the things that money can buy to validate themselves. There is the illusion that if I have enough money in the bank, or the cool car (or phone, house, clothes, etc), then I am really something, and we feel like we are getting our dose of 3A’s from the money or the stuff we bought with the money. Just like everything else, this makes us vulnerable, because it is hard to know when we have enough money to feel validated… and what if you find out someone else is making a lot more, then you may begin to doubt that you have been successful after all. Some people seek for the promotion at work, “If I could just be promoted to management (or whatever the title is), then I’ll be happy.” Another illusion of security. The money and job titles are easily lost, and if we are hanging the hat of self-worth on that peg, and suddenly the peg disappears, we are left feeling like a failure, or inadequate, or something similar to that.
The truth is that as long as we are seeking for the 3 A’s from people, things, titles, and the circumstances around us, it will always cause some stress, because these sources never meet our need for the three A’s consistently. Even the most loving spouse doesn’t give the 3 A’s all the time. When we aren’t getting the 3 A’s, it can trigger self doubt, stress, anxiety, depression, feeling like a failure, overwhelmed, unloved, lonely, and other negative feelings. When we feel these negative emotions, we know that we are believing a lie. The lie is probably something like this, “since I’m not feeling accepted, I’m not acceptable, or there must be something wrong with me.”To deal with this some people turn to porn and other addictive substances to help them deal with these painful feelings. Some simply tune out the world by tuning into their TV, movies, or video games. Some turn to food for comfort. There are numerous activities that people can use to help them escape the pain of not having the three A’s in their life, and feel better in some way. Everyone craves love, acceptance, approval, and appreciation. If a person is trying to overcome an addiction, or any bad habit, but they haven’t addressed the underlying need for the 3 A’s, they are always going to have a pain they need to tranquilize.
So what is the best way to have your need for the 3 A’s satisfied? Since we can’t trust that the world around is going to give it to us, we need to turn to a higher power. We need to make a connection with our Creator, because that is the purest source of love, acceptance, approval and appreciation. You need to be humble and pray and make a connection that helps you to feel the love that God has for you. When you have an experience where you genuinely feel the love of God, you come to understand that you have infinite worth, that you are cherished right now. This love and acceptance from God is there no matter where you are on the road of life. Whether you are sitting in a prison cell or a Sunday School class, you are loved! This is God’s greatest gift to you, don’t miss it. It is like the sunshine, it is all around you; and you can either enjoy it, or sit in a cave and miss out on what is there for you.
Once you have an experience where you feel God’s love, acceptance, approval an appreciation, you need to reconnect to it daily. You are still surrounded by a negative world that is going to lead you to doubt yourself. Everyday you need to be reminded about the truth of who you are, the truth of God’s love for you. Then no matter what is going on in the world around you, whether you are succeeding or failing, whether you are accepted or rejected, you will be at peace with yourself. When you are at peace with yourself, you don’t need an addictive substance or mindless entertainment, to escape the pain and misery of your life. You will be enjoying your life, you will find that you love and accept yourself, and that you love and accept those around you. When you are comfortable with who you are, you give everybody around you permission to be comfortable with who they are. Life is a lot more fun this way. You aren’t on an emotional roller coaster, letting outside circumstances determine how you feel about you! You don’t want something you can’t control, to control the way you feel.
So trusting God, trust in Jesus Christ, they have perfect, infinite love for you right now!