Let’s Chat About It —
The desire for connection and to “fit in” is a basic human need but understanding that sometimes not all of it can be at a healthy level is important. Can you relate?
This begs the question: If wanting people’s approval is natural and healthy, is it always a good thing?
Imagine for a moment what life would be like if you didn’t care about other people’s opinions. Would you be self-centered and egotistical, or would you be set free to live a life fulfilling your true purpose without being held back by a fear of rejection?
I have friends that truly stick to this and do not seek the approval of others & care less than most about what they say or do because they live for themselves. I have noticed that some of these people can be seen as having “strong” personalities or “rude” but on truth… are they really just set free?
For my entire life I’ve wrestled with caring about other people’s opinions as most of you probably do.
I always thought this made me selfless and considerate. And it truly may be – but while caring about the opinion of others helped me put myself into other people’s shoes, I discovered that my desire, or more specifically my attachment to wanting approval, had the potential to be one of my most selfish and destructive qualities.
If wanting the approval of others is a natural desire, how can it be a problem? The problem is that, like a drug, the high you get from getting approval eventually wears off. If having the approval of others is the only way you know how to feel happy, then you’re going to be miserable until you get your next “fix.”
In short – is that simply wanting approval isn’t the problem. The real issue is being too attached to getting approval from others as the only way to feel fulfilled. To put it simply, addiction to approval puts your happiness under the control of others where it has NO right to be.
Approval addiction leads to a lack of boundaries and ultimately resentment. (You can read my thoughts on creating boundaries here + how I have worked on this.)
Many times I felt resentment toward others because they crossed my boundaries, and yet I would remain silent expecting them to know. I didn’t want to come across as rude for speaking up about how someone upset me. I distance myself until I am not mad anymore – creating a cycle.
The problem is this would lead to pent up resentment over time, because there’s a constant feeling that people should just “know better.” When I took an honest look at the situation, though, I had to consider whose fault it was if resentment built up because my boundaries were crossed.
Is it the fault of the person who unknowingly crossed those boundaries, or the person who failed to enforce boundaries out of fear of rejection? We have to take more accountability for our happiness.
Taking a deep dive into my own life, I actually appreciate when someone I care about lets me know I’ve gone too far or hurt them. Sometimes it stings bad – but it is truly appreciated. It gives me a chance to make things right. If I don’t let others know how they’ve hurt me because of fear of rejection, aren’t I actually robbing them of the opportunity to seek my forgiveness and do better?
As strange as it sounds, doing things for others can be selfish. On an airplane, they say to put the oxygen mask on yourself before putting it on a child. This is because if the adult passes out trying to help the child, both are in trouble.
I am trying to overcome this by being gentle with myself. Wanting to feel connected with others is normal. It’s only an issue when it’s imbalanced with other priorities like having boundaries.
To break a cycle of needing approval of others, remember to treat YOURSELF the way you want others to treat you.
Worrying about what other people think masquerades as love. In reality, when you really love someone, you’re willing to have their disapproval. This kind of punches me in the gut.
BUT- imagine a parent with a child. If the parent is too concerned about the child’s opinion of them, they might not discipline their child for fear of the child disliking them. Have you ever seen a parent who lets their child get away with anything because they don’t want to be the “bad guy?” Is this truly loving? ENLIGHTENING!!!!
Another come to Jesus moment – I realized I had to ask one of the most challenging questions anyone could ask themselves: Am I willing to love this person enough to have them dislike me? It may not be that drastic but it completely puts things into perspective for me.
On the upside, many people will eventually come to appreciate you more in the long run if you’re willing to be honest with them and prioritize your love for them over your desire for their approval. I respect my friends that can do this naturally. I try to tell them often because with me, it takes HARD work.
It takes work to acknowledge what you need to change about yourself. As an adult I am learning and becoming more aware of things I need to sharpen & this one is major for me. I hope it spoke to you and helped you pinpoint the fact that you need to do more for YOU to be better for all.
Love to you ALL xo