Seeking approval is part of our being. As a child, you look up to your mother and ask her if she likes your drawing, and as an adult you want your boss to tell you you did a great job.
There is nothing wrong with that, but the moment their view becomes more important than your own and it starts affecting your life in negative ways, it’s time to take a step back.
Approval is like a drug, and when you cannot take any decisions anymore without the approval of others, your life will become embedded with fear.
- Lack of fulfilment – not knowing where to go.
- Not being good enough, both in your personal life and at work.
- Increased levels of stress.
- Reduced performance and motivation.
- Low confidence.
- Feelings of depression.
Take a look at yourself. Do you seek approval? Even if you think you don’t, chances are you do. Sometimes these behaviours are used as a compromise or because you just want to make the other person happy – at your own expense. There are a few behaviours to look out for:
- Changing your position or opinion because someone disagrees or disapproves.
- Feeling upset when someone disagrees with you (especially something small).
- Asking permission when it’s not necessary.
- Attempting to coax people into giving you compliments and getting upset when they fail to do so.
- Constantly apologizing.
Sounds familiar? You might not even know you do some of those things, or that they were harmful in the first place. It’s important to realize that thinking differently than someone doesn’t mean one of you is right and one of you is wrong. It’s also perfectly acceptable to shift your opinion, but not just because someone disagrees with you. It strip you from your individuality, and will make you question who you really are.
Approval-seeking behaviour often results in the opposite of what you want to achieve.
Take a look at the people you respect the most. Why do you respect them so much? One of the reasons I gain respect for someone is because they stay true to who they are. They stand up for what they believe in and don’t feel upset when someone disapproves or disagrees of what they are doing. They live by their own values, and only care about what they think of themselves.
It’s not easy to suddenly stop seeking approval – especially if it’s ingrained in your mind. But familiarizing yourself with approval seeking behaviours and recognizing when you are seeking approval will help you to get out of the habit.
One of my favorite books about this subject is ‘I Need Your Love – How To Stop Seeking Love, Approval, And Appreciation And Find Them Instead’ by Byron Katie and Michael Katz. If you want to dive more into this subject, I highly recommend it!
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