Approval and Adulthood

“Care about people’s approval and you will be their prisoner. Do your work, then step back. The only path to serenity.” Tao Te Ching, Chapter 9, Stephen Mitchell translation

These are words to live by, but I still needed other people’s approval until just recently. As a female, I was not raised to be emotionally independent. My mother couldn’t give me what she didn’t have.

I could have saved myself years of church attendance and emotional manipulation had I not been so willing to be someone’s prisoner. There is always the seductive lie: “Obey me and I will take care of you.” The truth is much simpler: “Obey me and waste years of your life and keep our dysfunctional system going. Oh, by the way, we never intended to take care of you; you were always on your own. Your needs didn’t get met? That’s your own fault (for being stupid enough to believe the lie in the first place).”

I’m a little bitter, but mostly I just feel duped. My emotional needs advertised themselves to authority figures and made me an easy target. Christians refer to my upbringing as “training,” as in “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Buddhists refer to this emotional hell as “conditioned existence,” the source of much suffering and precisely what we are to depart from to achieve emotional freedom and adulthood. One philosophy encourages perpetual childhood; the other promotes maturity. I so lost myself in Christianity; I only hope I can find myself before I die.

Tags: , , , ,

About cdhoagpurple

I live in Michigan. I was Greek Orthodox (and previously Protestant), but now am more Buddhist than anything. I am single now (through the till-death-do-you-part clause of the marriage contract). My husband Barry was a good man and celebrated 30 years in AA. I am overly educated, with an MBA. My life felt terminally in-limbo while caring for a sick husband, but I am free now. I see all things as being in transition. Impermanence is the ultimate fact of life. Nothing remains the same, good or bad.

One response to “Approval and Adulthood”

  1. tiramit says :

    Thanks for this. I know what you mean, I’m recovering from Church conditioning too, it’s been nearly 20 years since moving over to the Buddhist Way and I still have these negative thoughts about ‘Churchianity’. I’d like to put it all to rest…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: