Everyone needs to feel appreciated on a regular basis. This stems from our very human need to know and feel that we're doing a good job in life. It also stems from the fact that, as mammals, we have the need to bond with our parents, family and clan. Plus, a little recognition also prompts our brains to release the feel-good chemical dopamine.
However, while feeling appreciated is a healthy thing, feeling a need to seek out approval from people in our lives (your boss, spouse, parents, friends, neighbors, even your kids) is quite the opposite. Being addicted to such approval can cause you to miss opportunities and put your own dreams on hold all for the sake of being approved of, of being liked. And even if you get approval from outside of yourself, if you do not feel good about yourself, you will feel it is just a lie and still feel empty inside.
Wanting people to approve of you is very pervasive in our society. Most of us feel that without others approving of who we are and what we do, we have no value.
Are You Addicted to Approval?
How can you tell if you are truly addicted to seeking the approval of others? If you have several of these telltale signs you may be looking for love in the wrong places:
- You describe yourself as a "people pleaser."
- Are you more interested with how many "friends" you have on Facebook than you actually have in your life?
- You will do anything your boss or spouse requests of you, even if it's unreasonable or puts you under excessive pressure.
- You have trouble saying no to people.
- You measure your success based on what others think of you.
- You've taken on extra obligations at the request of others, only to feel resentful of them later.
- You have not gone after your dream of starting a business, being a singer, traveling the world, etc., because someone told you not to.
- You are not even sure what you want for yourself
- A lot of your free time is taken up fulfilling the needs of others (and rarely the needs of yourself).
- If you do something that someone doesn't approve of, you feel very guilty
How to Stop Seeking Approval
The risk of being addicted to others' approval is that you end up living your life for other people. You don't feel free to pursue your own goals and dreams, and if you do, you feel guilty for it. But you deserve to live the life YOU want, and you don't need anyone to approve of it but yourself.
If you allow yourself to truly look you will see that all your value comes from within. You can give yourself the approval directly that you are seeking from others.
Here is a simple process you can do to stop your habit of seeking approval where you will never truly find it.
Give this a try right now.
As you do this exploration, do your best to answer these questions with your heart instead of your head while avoiding over analyzing and debating about the right answer. Also, be as honest as you can with your responses. Often you will let go even if you say "no."
Think of someone whose approval you would like and in this moment simply ask yourself:
- Could I let go of wanting to get approval from this person?
- Would I?
- Could I allow myself to give myself approval (love) directly, as best I can?
Each time you cycle through the above questions you will get some relief. Be patient with yourself and be persistent with this exploration and you will see results. If you apply yourself you can get to the point where you are no longer addicted to others approval -- where you love and accept yourself exactly as you are.
Remember that you are the source of love and approval. You do not need to get it from others. You can let go of wanting others to approve of you just like you can let go of any other feeling, and you will feel whole and complete unto yourself.
Enjoy! Let me know how you do with this exploration.
Please comment below and share this with other people that you care about.
This post is based on the principles explored in his book The Sedona Method; Your Key to Lasting Happiness, Success and Emotional Wellbeing, in his retreats and on Letting Go: The Sedona Method Movie. It is based on over three decades of experience with a simple, powerful, elegant and easy-to-learn technique that shows you how to tap your natural ability to let go instantaneously of any uncomfortable or unwanted feeling, thought or belief. For more information, visit www.Sedona.com.