My Personal Improvement Diary – How To Stop Seeking Validation? (Part 1)
To a greater or lesser extent, we all need our dose of external approval since we are social beings by nature. However, a line separates the healthy from the pathological in the context of relationships and that we must take into account if we do not want to establish ties of dependency. In fact, some people seem to have an urgent need to endorse their actions through others. When you are afraid to be original, genuine, in short, to be yourself, to obtain the approval of others, there is a problem. You must take into consideration that the opinion of others is sometimes also influenced by others. Therefore, it is fickle, anonymous, and whimsical. As Steve Jobs said, “Don’t let the noise of other people’s opinions drown out your own inner voice.” – a wise phrase that is easy to understand but difficult to put into practice since, as a general rule, human beings want to please and be flattered. The question is to find a balance to avoid that personal well-being depends on the opinion of others. Let’s dive into the need for approval.
The Need for Approval from Birth
To understand why some adults are dependent on approval, we must go back to childhood. In the early stages of life, we need external validation: attachment figures’ sense of security. If we don’t get their approval, we’ll likely develop self-esteem issues. If a mother tells her son that he is a disaster, does not trust him, and instead of seeing his virtues, focuses on the defects, this child will have weakened self-esteem when he grows up and will seek in others that approval that he did not receive. But you do not always grow up with low self-esteem due to family evaluations, since the opinions of classmates, friends, or teachers also influence. The family is usually the most important pillar. Still, sometimes a child can develop and form a healthy self-esteem thanks to the approval of other essential members outside the family.
Self-image is the positive acceptance of what has reflected others, based on personal experience and self-care built throughout life, from lived experiences and relationships with others. However, it is logical that some approval is sought even in adulthood since it reaffirms and gives security. However, the line between healthy approval seeking and a problem is a fine one. One way to identify where we are is to analyze whether our decisions and behaviors vary according to outside opinions.
When Does the Need for Approval Become Dependency?
We could speak of dependency when we give the reins of our lives to others when our well-being depends on their opinions and evaluations. The question would be doing we want or need the opinion of others?
Next, we explain five attitudes of alarm that could indicate that we are dependent on external approval:
- Giving a different opinion and always agreeing while trying to be nice to please and not angering the person with a different perspective.
- Varying our emotional state according to the opinion of others. If they compliment and approve of us, we feel euphoric and happy, but if they criticize and disapprove of us, we feel sad and unworthy.
- Not knowing how to say “no” and doing favors for others before listening to our needs.
- Excessive preoccupation with looking good. It is one thing that we like to groom ourselves and do it often, and another that it becomes a necessity – where we can’t let people see us disheveled, without makeup, or with an appearance that we consider to be unhealthy. People who do not need approval have no problem showing themselves without fixing since they do it naturally.
- Not being spontaneous or authentic for fear of rejection. If before society we show ourselves too correct and lose our naturalness and spontaneity, it could be that we are afraid of being rejected deep down. Therefore, we try to go unnoticed to avoid receiving criticism.
So, how can you eliminate that need for pathological approval? Check out the second part for amazing tips on how you can change for the better!