We’re all guilty of wanting approval from others sometimes. We may make choices or change our behaviour to avoid criticism, rather than doing what’s best for us or what we think is right. Worrying too much about whether we are liked, places our happiness in the hands of others and when we feel we aren’t met with approval it can cause stress, anxiety and a knock in confidence.
When our happiness relies on the approval of others we give away our own power. We build barriers that we have to overcome in order to feel worthy. The irony is that this people pleasing behaviour often has exactly the opposite effect. Most of the people we truly respect and admire, we do so because of their strength, values and independence.
Approval seeking behaviour can hold you back in a couple of ways. Firstly, if your approval addiction becomes a major form of stress or anxiety it’s likely that you’ll aim low, making small efforts to gain approval and avoiding riskier ventures. These feelings spread your efforts very thinly and prevent you from focusing on what really matters.
Alternatively some people’s approval seeking manifests itself in overly high achievement in one area of life. Perhaps you spend all your time cleaning your house or put all your effort into your career. If this is what you truly want, it might not be a bad thing but if you’re doing more than you can handle, or neglecting others areas of your life which are important to you, you may need to switch your focus.
Below are a few other examples of behaviour common in people with ‘approval addiction’.
- Not knowing what’s really important to you
- Hesitating to speak up or over apologising for your views
- Avoiding conflict, even when necessary
- People pleasing or submissive behaviour
- Spending too much time on tasks that don’t matter to you
- Being afraid to say no to requests from others
- Seeking compliments
- Overacting to insults
- Caring too much about what others think of you
- Bending or shifting your values to appease others
- Gossiping for attention and approval from others
- Paying insincere compliments to others
- Expressing agreement when you don’t truly feel it
- Being afraid to complain even when valid
- Asking permission for things that don’t require it
If approval seeking tendencies aren’t addressed, it’s possible to spend your entire life wasting your potential, time and effort on things that just aren’t that important to you. The good news is, it is possible to change these thought patterns and place more importance on your own wellbeing and values.
How we justify our self-worth can be a complex issue and approval behaviour is often encouraged when we are young. In adult life, we can develop new systems, more developed self-confidence and our own sense of purpose. This leads to healthier relationships and a happier life.
If you’d like more information or help with approval seeking behaviour please do get in touch.