Letting Go of Your Need for Approval
Our society is built around approval ratings. We learn early on that we will be critiqued in school with the grades we are given. Our teachers are proud of us as are our parents when we make the mark. We are given a hard time by our peers when we say or do the wrong thing and life becomes difficult as our external world is then disapproving, yet another indication that approval matters. Our world of approval from others expands as we get older and we begin to include our coaches, bosses, friends, significant others and co-workers in our list of important people to please. We produce and they exclaim! And for the moment, all is well. It is easy to begin to develop the assumption (and the need) that we must have these outside validations for us to feel good. We associate our feeling good as coming from the external validation of another person. We can begin to “crave” that stamp of approval from others as we are never satisfied because outside validation does not bring about internal fulfillment. The fact that we think this approval will bring us contentment and happiness is an illusion. There is no fulfillment in it. But because we have that fleeting moment of feeling good when others are happy with us, we think it is the road to inner peace and happiness. And because it is shallow, it doesn’t last long and we need another “feel-good fix” of someone approving of us soon after receiving the last one.
When we strive for the approval of others we begin the dance of paying attention to the needs of others versus our inner knowing. We shut down to the whispers coming from inside us. We care more about what someone else wants us to do rather than what is right for ourselves. We use our antennas to take the pulse of our environment and the people in it. We say and do the right things in order to please others, and we lose sight of what is going on inside ourselves. And when we live this way, we never have enough. We are never satisfied. We always want more outside validation. We then become a needy person to those around us. People certainly sense this and may retreat from us, withholding the validation and setting in motion another cycle of being more needy. If this describes you, being to work on releasing the need to please others and step into listening to yourself and doing what is in alignment with your own inner knowing. Others will get over it if you don’t do what they wanted you to do, but your inner self will never get over you not listening and doing what “you know” you need to be doing. And as you listen more and more to yourself, you will begin to be acknowledged because people will appreciate you being your authentic self. So when you give up the need for outside validation it suddenly is exactly what you will get. People will gravitate to you more when they sense you are being real! Step into being real to yourself and let go of needing others to approve of you.Tags: our own need for approval, striving for the approval of others, what is right for ourself
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker
Licensed Independent Mental Health Practitioner
- Janie Pfeifer Watson, LICSW, is the founder and director of Wholeness Healing Center, a mental health practice in Grand Island, Nebraska with remote sites in Broken Bow and Kearney. Her expertise encompasses a broad range of areas, including depression, anxiety, attachment and bonding, coaching, couples work, mindfulness, trauma, and grief. She views therapy as an opportunity to learn more about yourself as you step more into being your authentic self. From her perspective this is part of the spiritual journey; on this journey, she serves as a mirror for her clients as they get to know themselves—and, ultimately, to love themselves.
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