On one occasion Les Brown said that "the opinion of others about you must not become your reality." But this is one of the many grandiloquent phrases that are easier to remember than to put into practice. In fact, everyone in a certain moment of life has felt the need to receive theapproval of others.
The need for approval isn't bad in itself, as long as it doesn't grow disproportionately. The problem lies in trying too hard for the sole purpose of gaining approval from others. A problem that we sometimes experience without realizing it, which obviously prevents us from moving forward.
Understanding the need for approval
Before analyzing the pathological need for approval it is important to understand where this addiction comes from. We must remember that we are social beings, that we build our person through relationships with others and therefore, it is logical that the judgment of others affects the perception we have of ourselves.
For example, a mother who always tells her child that he is good for nothing, incapable, and will never do anything good in life, will likely produce an adult with low self-esteem and a distorted perception of himself, an adult to whom the approval of others may be perpetually required to validate his ego.
Our image is formed by the feedback we constantly receive from others, so it is normal that in some circumstances we need social approval; this makes us feel safer, it reassures us that we are going in the right direction. Also, if we are honest, we all love to receive words of praise and appreciation, it makes us feel good. But when we subject all of our decisions and behaviors to the judgment of others, then we have a problem.
When the opinion of others is law
The moment we become dependent on the judgment of others it is as if we are handing over the reins of our life. This means that when someone approves of us we are elated but when we are disapproved our life falls apart, we feel sinking because we have put our person in the hands of others.
Obviously, the need for approval is something that is built day after day, not something that comes overnight. It usually starts with simply submitting to the rules, because it is easier to agree with what others propose to us than to assert our opinion. So we sacrifice our true selves, then there comes a time when the opinions others have of us become more important than what we think.
There are some attitudes that represent warning signs:
- Being too friendly when we disagree with the opinions of others. I am not saying that when we disagree with someone we should adopt violent behavior and make our opinion prevail at all costs, but it is normal to put a little passion into defending our point of view.
- Never say no. If you can't say no and are constantly sacrificing your own needs to those of others, the need for approval is likely at the root.
- Change your mentality and try to be friendly and nice.
It is worth remembering that changing your mind is not only normal, but it is also a sign of intelligence and flexibility, but only when the arguments of the other have convinced us.
- Feeling sad or distressed when others do not approve of our ideas and behaviors. Obviously, when we don't get any support we are not happy, but if the sadness we feel is disproportionate, then there is probably a need for approval.
How to get rid of the need for pathological approval?
In essence, the need for approval is fought by changing the beliefs that support it:
- Accept that you can't please everyone. Each person is unique, has their own tastes and preferences, we cannot always find points of convergence, we cannot always be appreciated, above all, we should not always expect it.
- You are just as important as the others. Your opinion matters because, after all, who knows you better than you? People may criticize you or give you advice, but you are the one who will make the decisions.
- Rejection of an idea or behavior does not necessarily mean that they reject you as a person. Normally, those who constantly need to receive approval confuse their "I" with their behaviors. That is, the fact that you did something wrong does not mean that you are incapable or unintelligent, it simply means that you have made a mistake.