Are You An Approval Addict?
Do you have a strong need for approval from others?
Do you worry a lot about what others think of you?
Do you have difficulty saying “no” to others, but feel sad when they don’t respond in kind?
If so, it’s time for you to chill out before you burn out. Seeking approval from others is draining, diminishing and invariably disappointing...
- Draining - because you use up so much energy seeking approval that you can’t focus on what’s really important to you.
- Diminishing - because your needs often end up at the bottom of the pile.
- Disappointing - because no matter how hard you try, some people still won’t like you, appreciate what you do, or value your opinion.
- Instead of looking outward, go inward and reflect on how you want to live your life.
If you find yourself living your life to accommodate others or chasing pursuits just to fit in or gain acceptance, stop. Though it may initially feel warm and fuzzy to win another's favor, reflect on whether it’s worth it in the long run. If you do decide to say “yes” to what others want, make sure it fits into your time schedule and is, at least partially, on your terms. Rather than taking on tasks simply to please another, aim toward living by the rules that make sense to you.
Nix the guilt if you didn’t do what someone else wanted. Nix the fear of offending others. In no way am I suggesting that you aim to be a self-centered, egotistical person. Being a generous, giving person is an admirable quality. But accommodating others just to win their approval or to prove your worthiness is another matter.
- Know when and how to say “no.”
The ability to say “no” - especially when you’re thinking “no” - will reap unexpected benefits. Here are just a few:
Your “yes” will be more respected by others, as those who can’t say “no” are often treated as doormats.
Saying “no” will help you set reasonable limits on your time and energy.
Saying “no” will help you build character. Character is weakened by saying “yes” to everyone and everything.
Learn the many ways to say “no.” Most will fit into one of these four categories:
- a polite “no”
"No, but thanks for thinking of me."
- a “no” with an explanation
“No, I’d like to join you but I just don’t have the time.”
- a “no” with an alternative proposal
"No, I can’t drive you now but I’ll be available in an hour.”
- a blunt “NO”
“No, I won’t do it.” As a pleaser, you’ll probably use this type of “no” sparingly, saving it for those who brush off your initial “no.”
Teach yourself the skill of using whatever type of “no” best fits your mood and the situation.
- a polite “no”
- Give yourself the approval that you seek from others.
We live in a culture in which it’s easy to feel frazzled and fried. Work harder! Faster! Better! Though this is troubling for many, it’s particularly tough for an approval junkie. Why? Because approval seekers are prone to assuming an abundance of responsibility. Add on your dislike of disappointing others and life can easily get out of hand. You know what I’m talking about, right? In your saner moments, you do know that you can’t do everything. So, if something has to give, make sure it’s not your good feelings about yourself.
Remember - always, always, always treat yourself with respect. Know your worth. Value your time. Make choices that are right for you. Instead of feeling pressured to go along with something you don’t want to do, speak up. Give yourself the kindness, acceptance and approval that you’re seeking from others.
“People often say that a person has not yet found himself. But the self is not something that one finds. It is something that one creates.” ~ Thomas Szasz
Linda Sapadin is a psychologist and personal coach in private practice who specializes in helping people enrich their lives, enhance their relationships and overcome self-defeating patterns of behavior. For more information about her work, contact her by email or visit her website at PsychWisdom.