More from YourTango: Family Ties - When to Let Go
"Aidan," I asked, "What are you feeling right now?"
"I don't know."
"Aidan, please move your focus out of your head and focus inside your body. Breathe into your body. Notice any sensations in your body."
Aidan breathed. A few moments later he told me that he felt nervous.
"Aidan, imagine that the nervousness is a child inside you—your feeling self. I'd like you to notice what you are telling this child that is causing him to feel nervous."
"I'm telling him that he has to say the right thing so that you will like me."
"So when you tell yourself that you have to perform right in order to get my approval, you end up feeling nervous. What are you telling yourself about why it is so important to get my approval?"
"I guess I'm telling myself that if you like me and approve of me, I'm okay."
"Aidan, I'd like you to imagine that your inner child—your feeling self—is an actual child. Imagine that you have a little boy who is just like you were as a child. How would this little boy feel if you kept telling him that others had to like him for him to be okay? How would he feel if you kept handing him away to someone else for acceptance and approval?"
"I think he would feel rejected and abandoned by me. I think he would not feel very good about himself if I kept rejecting him."
More from YourTango: Signs of Narcissism
"Yes, and that is exactly what is happening on the inner level. You are handing away your inner child for others to define as okay. But the very act of handing him away is causing low-self esteem. And how attractive do you think a woman finds you when you are approaching her from this neediness—this need for her to approve of you for you to feel okay?"
"Well, obviously, women don't find this attractive. But I didn't know I was doing this, and I don't know what to do about it."