One of the biggest obstacles to people improving their self esteem is their constant need for approval by others
So for you, you find that unless someone tells you that you did a great job or how wonderful they are then they will feel they are just not good enough. They don’t believe in themselves so it’s important to find out someone who does!
The problem with this is that until you believe in yourself, it will never matter what someone else says because the most important person doesn't believe it, You! You'll constantly look for more and more people to tell you that you're valuable. The search will continue until you find that one person who agrees with what you truly believe about yourself; that you're really a fraud or a failure. Then, it wouldn't matter if a million people said wonderful things about you, you would only remember the person that had spoken negative comments.
The approval you really need to find is from yourself and this can only begin once you stop searching for approval in others and take the time to heal yourself.
Often even just the awareness of your actions will provide you with a great deal of healing. Be sure to take the time to explore your feelings and learn why and where it's coming from. Once you do that then you'll most likely find that you no longer need approval from others for that particular feeling.
The moment when you suddenly realise that you don’t need anyone else’s approval is incredible. There is a sudden peace inside of you which will make you absolutely giddy with joy. It’s like you’ve suddenly woken up from a nightmare and you’re now free to just be you. Your whole life will be completely different. You may find that for the first time in your life, you understand what it means to feel "content" and "happy".
But, how do you get to the point where you can let go of needing approval from others? If it's something you've been doing your whole life, you may not even be aware that you're doing it.
It starts with being aware of how you might be seeking approval from others. For example:
Are you hesitant to give your opinion on something until you know how others feel about it?
When you make excuses do you do it to make yourself look better?
Do you ask everyone else for their opinion before you’ll make a decision?
Do you worry excessively about what to wear?
Do you tune out what others are saying because you’re trying to think of what you’re going to say so that you appear knowledgeable or funny or clever?
Do you find that you’re self conscious a lot and worry about what to say?
Are you afraid to say "No" because of what people might think of you?
Are you constantly trying to please people?
These are just some of the more common ways you may be searching for approval from others.
One important clue that you're desperate for approval is the next time that you feel pain, distressed or anxious when dealing with someone else. Your stomach suddenly feels like it's tied in knots or you feel guilty or you're feeling confused and don't know what to do. Ask yourself if this feeling is because you really want this other person's approval. It doesn't even have to be someone you know. It could be a complete stranger that you feel the sudden need to explain to why you just did what you did.
So, if you're feeling pain, it could be a sign that you've hurt yourself by needing that approval that you can't find within yourself. Once you realise what you’ve been doing to try and influence other people's opinion of you, you’ll very quickly start to understand what part of you needs to be healed. You'll also start to notice how many other people around you are also trapped in a cycle of constantly needing approval from others. You may be surprised by who you see needing approval. You're definitely not the only one.
So let’s discover some new ways on how to stop needing this…
In order to learn how to stop needing approval from others, you really need to understand the "why" behind your actions.
1. What you seek is what you need from yourself
The most important thing to understand about your need for approval from others is that whatever it is that you want from others, whether it's to tell you that you're smart or good enough, that is what you need to heal within yourself. You don't believe that aspect about yourself so you search for it elsewhere. Once you realize this then you've discovered the part of you that needs healing and if you heal yourself you'll no longer search for it in others. It's an awareness of yourself at a very deep level.
By paying attention to your actions, you can figure out what painful part of your soul you're trying to soothe. For example, you sign up to volunteer with a few local charities. Now, when you think about helping this charity, what do you think about?
- Do you imagine yourself telling people how you're helping others?
- Do you imagine the respect in other people's eyes when they hear about your plans?
- Do you imagine how proud your parents are going to be of you?
- Do you feel like you finally have value?
If you do, it may not be the cause you're really concerned about but more your quest for approval from others in the form of respect. You want others to respect you for working on such an honorable cause.
It won't work though. People won't respect you until you respect yourself. So, when you find yourself seeking activities in order to gain approval from others, turn it around and ask yourself what it is that you really need. If it's respect, then explore that aspect of yourself. Figure out why you don't respect yourself. Heal that part of yourself and learn to give yourself the deep respect you truly do deserve.
This is the most important thing to understand. Once you figure out what it is that you need from yourself, you'll find that you no longer search for it from others. Then when you do engage in certain activities, you'll get so much more from them because they'll be done for the right reasons.
Step 2. Be accountable and take responsibility
You need to stand up and take on the responsibility for providing yourself with what you truly need. For example, if you've been searching for people to tell you that you’re achieving, you first need to acknowledge all of your own achievements yourself.
It's a matter of discovering why you feel like you are lacking in giving yourself what you need.. (critical parents, previous relationship, etc) and then learning to give that feeling to yourself anyway.
Accepting this responsibility can sometimes feel uncomfortable. It feels easier to stay in your comfort zone and deny that inner voice. It may take courage as well to dig deep inside yourself. The rewards of facing your fear will be life altering.
The bottom line is that only you can provide yourself with that deepest need. No one else can give it to you.
You also won't be able to truly give it to anyone else until you give it to yourself first. Such a cliche but it’s true :)
A wonderful gift for learning to meet your own needs is that others will then give it to you as well. So, as soon as you learn to love yourself you will then be able to truly love others and they will love you. But, it can't happen until you take the first step.
3. It’s Your Life – Value It
It’s your life and you should enjoy it and all that it offers. It’s a waste of your life to spend it chasing approval from others. Focus on your life and discover what you need and what you want. You deserve this!
Okay, now that you know what to do about understanding why you need approval.
- When you walk into a crowded room, what do you do?
- When someone pays you a compliment, how do you react?
The following are some of the most common habits you may use to seek approval from others. Once you're aware of what you're doing, it's then just a matter of changing your behaviour. Judging Others When you walk into a room full of people, what’s the first thing you do? Is it to size everyone up and think, “Oh, she looks mean” or “He’d never talk to me” or “That’s the popular group, better not make eye contact with any of them”. If you are, then you're trying to judge people before they can judge you. By pre-judging people, you cause a lot of your own grief and make yourself feel much worse than you need to. You don’t want people to judge you yet you’ve gone ahead and pre-judged them. Stop judging and just be in the moment. Remember that everyone has so much more to offer than what you see at first glance. Trying to Impress Others to Make Them Like You You’ve probably heard sayings like, “You have 10 seconds for someone to make up their mind about you” and “You need to impress people to get them to like you.
By thinking this way, you put a lot of unnecessary stress on yourself. Also, think to a time when you first met someone and you knew they were trying so hard to get you to like them. How did you feel about that? Most likely, it put you off because they were trying too hard. You would have liked to have them just be themselves, to relax, and be natural. Or it may make you feel suspicious about them as in why are they trying so hard? Do you see what I mean? If you try to impress people, most likely you won’t. If you relax and just be yourself, you will impress people. Trying to impress others also means that you miss out on a lot. You won't hear large parts of conversations because you tune the other person out while you try to think of something clever or witty to say or think about what story you know which will beat their tale. You'll be so intent on your own image that you don't simply enjoy the conversation or hear what that person has to say or even get to know that other person. You become so focused on yourself that nothing else matters. For your efforts to gain approval, all you'll end up with is feeling empty and insecure. You’ll probably rerun the event over and over in your head thinking you weren’t good enough. If you hadn’t worried about impressing others but rather concentrated on the moment, you might have made a new friend, or learned something valuable, or just had a good laugh about something. You would then have good memories of the event instead of beating yourself up over it. Adding Your Own Beliefs To What You Hear You may feel you don’t have someone’s approval when really you do. The other person just hasn’t said anything or you may be reading something into the situation that isn’t there. The temptation might be to start thinking about what ulterior motives they have for what they say. For example, if someone gives you a compliment, you may also be adding your own story to it. You may think, “They’re only being nice to me because they feel sorry for me.” Let your life story go and just listen to people and what they say literally. Don’t add your own beliefs to it. Not Minding Your Own Business What you think and what you choose to spend your time thinking about is completely your own business. What someone else thinks is their own business. You wouldn’t want someone else telling you what to think, so why do you try to control other people’s opinion of you? They’re allowed to think whatever they want. That’s their right. Just as it’s your right to have your opinion. So, don’t worry about what others think, just respect their opinion. You don't have to agree with it, just respect that they're entitled to their own thoughts. Instead, ask yourself, “Is this something I approve of myself for doing?” It’s your opinion which matters the most. If you’re busy thinking what someone else should be doing, then you’re not paying attention to your own business. As soon as you say things like, “He should spend more time with me”, “She should appreciate what I’ve done for her”, or “He should get a better job”, you are not minding your own business. Life is just so much easier if you just concentrate on what you need to do. Other people can take care of their own lives. You just need to focus on your own. So, the next time you start thinking, "He should listen to me", tell yourself, to mind your own business and then ask yourself, "What should I be doing?". In this case, the answer most likely will be something like, "I should be listening to me." It's actually quite interesting in that often the advice you give to others, is really the advice you should be giving to yourself. You may also be distracting yourself from dealing with your own issues by focusing on what you think needs to be fixed in someone else's life. You ignore your own needs. Focus on your own life. Pay attention to what it is that you want and what you need. By doing this, you will gain approval from others because you know what you want. People respect those that know what they want. What if they don’t approve of you? Do you really need this person’s approval? Will you stop breathing and die if you don’t get it? Of course not. You may be putting too much emphasis on someone else's opinion. It really doesn’t matter what they think as long as you’re happy with what you’ve done. This is a very key element to learning to not seek approval from others. Focus on others or the present moment If you find that you’re afraid of saying something because you’re worried people will think your comment is stupid, well stop thinking about yourself. Think about the situation. Be in the present moment. What are they discussing? Focus on that. :) Do you make excuses or apologies in order to defend yourself or give a better opinion of yourself? Even though we think that being polite is about being considerate of others, many times it's about trying to create a better impression of yourself. It's not your fault the document isn't finished or that you were late or that you forgot to pick someone up. Usually, it's all an attempt to manage your self image. Pay attention to what excuses you're providing and then ask yourself why you feel the need to do this. Once you understand that searching for approval in others is really a clue to what you need to give yourself, you'll feel an overwhelming sense of relief. You can now simply enjoy conversations with others without stressing yourself out trying to think of something clever or witty to say. You won’t interrupt people and will calmly let them finish their sentences, you won’t be tuning out, you won’t be apologising or making excuses for your actions. This will all instantly disappear because you no longer need approval from others.
Any questions? Please ask me! :)