“Oh please like me! Oh please cast me!”
These were the thoughts most often whirling in my head when, as young actress in New York, I stepped in front of the directors, producers and casting directors auditioning me for roles in theatrical shows I longed to win.
“Oh please like me! Oh please
cast me!” The word “please” is the operative word in those sentences. As in “Please let me please you” or “I will do anything in my power to please you, to win your approval, even if it kills me.”
Without exception, when I led out with pleasing instead of just being and doing, I felt more anxious, less centered and less confident. And as a result, I very often didn’t get offered the part. It’s as if the people auditioning me could smell my deep need for approval, and pushed as far away from it (and me) as they could.
It took me years to realize that the only person who needed to approve of what I had done in my audition was me. Once I started to go into interviews and auditions focused on doing what I was there to do (staying breathing and relaxed; honoring the choices I had made about the audition material; and bringing my best self to each moment), and had released my need for the auditioners’ approval, I felt less nervous, more centered and more confident. Which led to my being offered more roles. And even when I auditioned and didn’t get offered I role I wanted, it didn’t sting as much. By focusing on what I was there to do and pleasing myself, instead of trying to please others or trying to control the outcome of my audition, I felt less needy, more empowered, and more resilient in the face of rejection.
As the Reverend Rick Warren, says “If you live for their approval, you will die by their rejection.”
Which is why, whenever I work with a coaching client on, say, interviewing for a new position, or improving the their sales presentations, I remind them not to focus on trying to please or get the approval of others, but to focus on pleasing themselves. That means showing up fully prepared and being willing to do what they’re there to do, moment by moment, to the best of their ability. They will either get the job or the sale, or they won’t. And if they don’t, and they’ve focused on pleasing themselves rather than on getting approval from others, they won’t, as the Reverend Warren suggests “die by their rejection.”
Confidence and self-worth come from within, not without. Stop trying to please others and looking outside of yourself for approval. Instead, focus on pleasing yourself. When you do, you’ll be far less vulnerable to the whims and opinions of others, and more able to navigate rejection.
1. Practice speaking the words “I approve of myself” out loud until you mean them.
2. Write for ten minutes, using the sentence fragment “if I learned to please and approve of myself it would…” as a starting point. What do your writings teach you about your need of approval from others? What could you do to shift your focus to and pleasing yourself and living for your own approval, rathen than the approval of others?