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Dying Alone in the Wilderness

Coach Rebekka Dale by Rebekka Dale
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First published 11 Jan 2021 on my blog here:

I spent a good half an hour earlier trying to record what should have been a really simple “quick tip” video for Instagram.

I ended up making a Canva image instead.

I couldn’t get a “good” video, I either said something “stupid” or was making weird faces, or my nose looked too big, or the bags under my eyes were just waaaayyyy too obvious, so I decided it was a waste of time and gave up.

I went off to make myself a comforting hot chocolate and then started thinking about how my desire to make a “perfect version” of this video was creating stress where there didn’t need to be any.

In their book “Coaching for Resilience: A Practical Guide to Using Positive Psychology”, Adrienne Green and John Humphrey explain that everything that someone finds stressful can be linked back either one or two deep psychological needs:

1. A need to be in control

2. A need for approval

When I first read this I had a serious “Aha!” moment. Literally everything that stresses me out falls into one of these two categories.

Take this need for approval, to be liked. It makes sense from an evolutionary perspective. If people who lived thousands of years ago weren’t liked or accepted by their tribes and were cast out, then they would have been less physically safe, and their chance of survival would have decreased. So, like, super important to have everyone like you!

Nowadays however we still instinctively react as if we will be cast out into the wilderness alone to die if we don’t have the tribe’s approval, but this is simply no longer the case.

Instead, our constant underlying need for approval can become extraordinarily stressful. We say yes to doing things we don’t really want to do, spend ages trying to figure out what to wear to hide the fact that we’ve put on some weight, or (in my case) shy away in horror from having my photo taken or putting out a video that reflects how I actually look.

In reality, rather than worrying about needing approval from the entire planet, Green & Humphrey recommend sitting down and writing a list of the people in your life who you actually need to like or love you. People without whose approval your life would be seriously difficult and unpleasant. You may find that this list is much shorter than you imagined. I literally only had my husband and my parents on this list.

Then for everyone else, try to let go.

So in the vein, I've made screenshots of all the ridiculous faces I was making in my failed video and posted them online in my blog for all to see.

If I get loads of negative comments about how I look, will it suck? Absolutely.

But I’m probably not going to die alone in the wilderness.

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