Silent Approval

March 30th, 2006 by Steve Pavlina

Suppose your child misbehaves right in front of you, but you say nothing.  Or suppose you manage people at work, and you notice one of your underlings making a serious mistake, but you don’t bother to bring it to his/her attention.  That’s silent approval.

Obviously there are problems when using silent approval to reinforce negative results from other people, but it can be even worse when you use silent approval on yourself.

What problems in your life do you witness often, but instead of consciously dealing with them, you turn away from them?  Maybe your energy is low because you haven’t been exercising and eating well.  Perhaps your relationship situation isn’t what you want it to be.  Maybe your career is a total shipwreck.  When you use silent approval on yourself, you tell your subconscious that your current standards of performance are acceptable.  So don’t be surprised when you keep getting the same results year after year.

If you want to change the results you’re getting, you cannot use silent approval.  You have to begin dictating a new standard for yourself.  Whenever you notice your new standards being violated, you must bring it to conscious awareness.  Interrupt your old pattern of silent approval with noisy disapproval.  If you catch yourself overeating, say out loud, “You pig!  What the hell are you doing?”  Or if that isn’t your style, then try a gentler approach like, “This isn’t me.  I know better than this.  I should go for a walk instead.”  Instead of remaining silent, speak up.  Let your disapproval be heard loud and clear.  Let your subconscious know that it needs to help you find an alternate way to meet your needs because the current approach is a total failure.

Silent approval is one of fear’s best friends.  Silent approval is the coward’s way of hiding from the truth.  Sometimes it’s painful to face the truth.  That’s OK.  You can handle a little pain now and then.  Just don’t go dark.

Silent approval makes your problems impossible to solve.  You cannot solve what you refuse to identify, whether your problem is at the individual, family, team, corporate, or global level.  If you want to solve such problems, you must first drag them into the light of conscious awareness (kicking and screaming if necessary).  Then you’ll finally have a shot at solving them.  And even if such problems cannot be solved, then at least they can be accepted.  Conscious acceptance is always superior to silent approval.


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