Seeking approval from others withholds your freedom and independence. It can make you a slave to opinions to ensure your emotional balance. This often feels like the most necessary part of life. But true self-fulfillment derives from the Self, the self-concept of you, not another’s view of you. Your self-concept is the source of your self-confidence (not to be confused with arrogance, which is an aspect of insecurity disguised as confidence). Self-confidence is defined as perceiving your own worth, your own strengths and skills. If we place too much value on someone else’s opinions or reactions to us, it can hinder our self-worth. Self-worth is about you and how you value yourself.
We often permit others to perform a particular role in our lives. This is because we desire their endorsements. Perhaps you have a friend, family member, partner, co-worker or boss who controls your feelings because you yearn to please him or her in order to maintain harmony or feel like you matter. What you may not realize is that the approval and harmony you are seeking is nothing that others can give you. It stems from your own insecurities. You are seeking their endorsement for assurance of your value, something you doubt, and this doubt means their approval is only temporarily satisfying. The joyful fulfillment you seek – which we all need – can only come from within you, not from others’ approval of you.
Validation from others rarely comes without cost. Your neediness can leave you vulnerable to manipulation or control by others. Their desires and goals – their use of you – can have negative consequences to your self-esteem. You think you need what they offer, but you don’t really. Others’ opinions are sometimes helpful, if the other person is wise and cares about you, or even if they just see something you don’t but no individual can be supported 100 percent of the time; therefore, you must learn to rely on yourself for reassurance.
As a counselor and hypnotherapist specializing in the field of metaphysics, I work with my clients to help them comprehend that their need for approval developed early in childhood, deep within the unconscious mind. The unconscious mind is responsible for all of your emotions, including the fear of disapproval.
Ways that the Parent/Child Relationship is Responsible for Approval/Disapproval!
We seek approval from others to assist in building our own self-esteem. We were taught as a child that attention feels astounding! The desire individuals have for the love and acceptance of their parents is so intense because it is necessary for the helpless infant to survive. Even the growing child, becoming independent, needs far more care than she or he can give themselves.
What happens is that, over time, we are conditioned to always look for that security. This is often complicated by rejection or ridicule from a parent. Disapproval, coldness, indifference, abandonment, in whatever form or to whatever degree, leaves us feeling unsafe and unprotected. We try even harder—go to any lengths—to get what as children we desperately need. Any means we come up with to get the attention or approval of parents or other caretakers sets a precedent for our lives. Individuals learn to meticulously develop behavior patterns in order to feed this need of approval.
Some approval seeking behaviors are:
- Expressing agreement when you do not agree
- Stating yes when you believe no
- Attempting to manipulate your environment to increase agreement or approval
- Feeling worried or upset because someone doesn’t agree with you
- Deforming your personal character or beliefs to fit in
The problem with approval-seeking behaviors is they typically result in the opposite of what you seek. Most individuals admire those who stand up for what they believe in and who are respectful of their own and others’ opinions. Self-validation creates a support for your own beliefs, which ensures self-esteem.
If approval from others is what you seek, begin by approving and valuing yourself first. This is self-worth. In order to develop this incredible trait, you must learn to accept the authentic you. You may be afraid of this person. You may not think the authentic you is worth very much. I believe you are wrong, but I understand the fear. You may need to start slowly. Identify qualities in yourself that you like and appreciate. Just one quality…then another. When you do or say something that makes you feel good about who you are, affirm it! Acknowledge your hard work and be proud of your decisions. Do not look around for another’s approval. Take the opportunity to stand on your own. Your liberation will be exhilarating!
It will be easier the next time. As with everything, habit develops, and you begin to see that in fact you are a unique person, someone you like and admire.
Once value and worth has been established, like magic everything in your life will begin to change. Creating self-fulfillment through self-worth gives you independence and freedom from others’ judgments and approvals. Your opinion of you is the only one that matters!