How To Stop Living For Others’ Approval

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A motto of the human race: Let me do as I like and give me approval as well.”
By: IDRIES SHAH, Reflections

Approval of others usually begins as a sensible strategy. We earn the approval of others, make them happy for a brief period, and feel pretty good about ourselves. It appears to be the ideal path to follow—one that we may follow for many years, confident that it is minimising our concern about criticism in our daily lives. In reality, it can be rather effective in gaining people’s approval. We avoid having them disapprove of our conduct, and we occasionally receive a lovely pat on the back.

However, the relentless pursuit of approval—the very solution to our problems—will come to an end at some point. And the very activity that gave us such a sense of accomplishment will turn into a problem.
When we feel compelled to satisfy others, we’re looking for external validation for ourselves. And we set ourselves up for failure whenever we look to the outside world for what we should be offering to ourselves.

We set ourselves up to live a life we don’t particularly want, but that will satisfy the expectations of others. We wouldn’t dare to try something that would elicit a frown or place us in a low social status category. We carry out our responsibilities. We do what others expect of us and what they want from us. We earn their approbation in exchange.

“Why not seek approval?” you might think. The reason for this is that we can only get it if we know what we want and are our authentic selves. When we seek approval from others, we miss out on opportunities to learn how to approve of ourselves—even if no one else does.

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Is Approval-seeking holding back the real self?

Approval seeking negatively affects our effectiveness of ourselves. This is because you are most likely avoiding doing things that are essential to you, are hesitant to try new things outside of your comfort zone and are preoccupied with what others may expect of you. Because you’re worried and believe your performance must be perfect, you may reject possible possibilities because you need approval. It may make you so afraid of failing that you give up before you even begin.

Therefore, it’s essential to realize how your desire for acceptance prevents you from completing tasks that are important to you. You’ll be free to achieve and create what you want in life with much less stress once you’ve gotten past this since you won’t be so preoccupied with thinking about what others will think.

“He who seeks only for applause from without has all his happiness in another’s keeping.”

By: Oliver Goldsmith

Even if you’re a high achiever who consistently produces seemingly favourable results, you’re doing so at the expense of everything else. You end up doing too much, feeling overwhelmed, becoming buried in your thoughts about your issues, people-pleasing, overworking, avoiding making time for yourself, and always finding yourself unable to say no when you’re driven to succeed merely to satisfy others. If you resonate with this, consider concentrating on how your need for approval is driving you to do too much rather than participate in activities that are essential to you. It’s time to make a change if you’re getting wounded by doing things for others at the price of yourself.

Why do we seek approval from others?

  • A person’s family and the environment in which they grow up have a significant impact. People who grew up in a tight household are constantly looking for confirmation. Their parents or guardians make all their decisions for them. They are never given the opportunity to learn from their mistakes. It becomes a habit that you become addicted to the approval from your surroundings either from your mates or siblings.
  • Anxiety plays a significant influence as well. We must recognise that worry is a result of fear. This is more likely to occur if you work in a high-pressure environment. You’re so afraid of making a mistake that you need someone to check over your work before you can get the confidence to submit it. As a result, you lose faith in yourself. It is, in my opinion, the most significant stumbling obstacle. Anxiety also has a significant impact in the workplace. We must recognise that worry is a result of fear. This is more likely to occur if you work in a high-pressure environment. You’re so afraid of making a mistake that you need someone to check over your work before you can get the confidence to submit it.

“A lack of confidence stems from a lack of trust in ourselves,”

By: Lisa Philyaw

  • Lack of confidence when we don’t trust ourselves, we turn for validation from others. We trust their opinion more than our own, thus we regard it as more valid because we don’t trust ourselves or our viewpoint. It is a serious issue as it leads to many mental illnesses too like depression etc.

How to stop seeking approval from others?

Not all approvals are positive, and not all disapprovals are negative. Let’s say you meet someone, and you get the impression that he likes you. You’re puzzled as to why. Then it occurs to you that he is a taker and that he likes you because he sees an opportunity to use you. You know he likes you for a less-than-flattering reason. When you consider the context of this approval, it appears to be more of a critique than a compliment.

Try not to compare yourself to others

It is important to remember that you are the best that is why you are born because you are the future. By comparing to someone else you are ashaming yourself. Putting yourself in the shoes of others. Instead, then comparing yourself to your siblings, strangers on the internet, or co-workers, strive to establish a balance between being content with where you are and thinking about where you want to go. Accept yourself as you are now and recognise that you may learn, grow, and change in positive ways.

“Don’t strive for perfection; it’s unattainable!” Simply be the best version of yourself.”

Try to comprehend why you’re seeking approval

Before you seek acceptance from others, ask yourself, “What do I think about this?” “Why don’t I trust my own judgement in this case?”. You may discover that you’re seeking approval because you’re unsure, or you may discover that you’re seeking approval because you want someone else to like or accept you. Understanding the reason for your need for approval is crucial to overcoming it.

Try to be honest with oneself

When you take on a new commitment, you must start being honest with yourself and determine if you’re doing it because it’s right for you or because you want to obtain favour and/or avoid rejection.

Before agreeing to a new assignment or commitment, take your time. Take a step back, sit down, and analyse your schedule, then ask yourself: What is truly essential and crucial, and what is motivated by people-pleasing? Once you’ve established this, work your way through the approval-seeking list slowly so you can re-evaluate. When you notice what you’re not doing for yourself to obtain other people’s favour, it’ll be easier to eliminate those duties and replace them with activities that help you achieve your personal goals.

Trust yourself

Whenever you’re in question, remember the golden rule: treat your problem as if it were something your friend came up with. Consider what guidance you would have given to him or her. Apply the same logic to your own life. It will increase your self-assurance and help you create trust in yourself.

I understand how difficult it is to break your approval-seeking habits. It’s not simple to begin making decisions that may or may not be accepted by others. You most likely began seeking permission for a good reason; in certain cases, it may have felt like the easier, less dramatic option.

Failure to seek other people’s acceptance might have direct negative implications in some situations. Avoiding confrontations on a regular basis, on the other hand, can result in you leading a life that is devoid of your actual principles, which will inevitably lead to you questioning your own worth as a person. Both courses have their own set of drawbacks, so the decision is ultimately yours. But keep in mind that it’s a choice, and the final decision is yours.


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