Do you make choices to avoid disapproval or criticism, rather than what is most valuable, effective or important to you? Do you find yourself wanting permission to do things? Do you feel a sense of failure or depletion if you’re not complimented on your work?
There is an epidemic of approval-seeking. We suffer from an unhealthy wanting for affirmation. For some, the quest for approval is an actual addiction–self-worth must come from the outside world because its absent within.
there are two types of approval…
- An active pursuit for some form of validation (“Do you like it?,” sending your crush a text, “Can you review my work?”); and,
- A passive wanting that pervades your choices, actions, and words.
…on two levels…
- The macro-level, i.e. major life choices, type of degree, life partner, jobs, place of residence; and,
- The micro-level, i.e. facebook/twitter/instagram posts, meal/exercise choices, clothing choices.
Approval- seeking can negatively impact your performance by under-achieving and over-achieving.
Are you procrastinating, not achieving what you’re capable of, and constantly ruminating instead of acting? This approval-seeking through avoidance is exhausting you. By releasing the wanting, you’ll be free to achieve what you want with less stress and effort.
Alternatively, perhaps you’re getting great results in some areas, but its at the expense of joy. In this case, the approval-wanting emerges in doing too much, trying to please everyone, not making time for yourself, working too hard, and being unable to say no. It is causing you to do things for others at the expense of yourself.
letting the approval-wanting go
- When you feel the wanting to get permission, send a text, post a status, quit your job–ask why? What will happen if you don’t get approval? Simply bring awareness to the feelings that come up.
- Notice your language, self-talk, and behavior, and identifying when it is coming from wanting someone else to say you’re that you made the right choice, and most importantly, approve whom you choose to be.
- Evaluate your daily/weekly tasks. Ask yourself what is really necessary and important, and what is driven by people pleasing. Eliminate the “people pleasing” tasks.
- When you make a decision, check in that it feels right, remind yourself that it is your choice, and give yourself validation for just being you.
- Be honest with yourself when you take on a new task or commitment, whether you are doing it because it is “right” for you or because you want to get approval and avoid disapproval.
Note: this is a “want” for approval, not a “need.” You do not NEED approval to survive. You’re whole without it. When you let go of the wanting, just a little bit, you’re no longer constrained. You’re free to be you–all of you.