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Approval Addiction

Approval addicts are the ultimate people pleasers. Their behaviour is always about meeting everyone else's needs and living up to everyone else's expectations. Their sense of self esteem and self worth is based entirely on what other people think of them. Most approval addicts only feel happy or satisfied through external validation.

Signs you may have approval addiction:

  1. You have a problem with boundaries - you can’t say no. 

  2. You apologise too much - even when you’ve done nothing wrong because you don’t want to offend anyone.

  3. You’re a rescuer. You crave the acknowledgement that comes from saving someone else from their problems and you love to fix other people's issues for them.

  4. You struggle to form your own opinions because you don’t want to upset others by saying the ‘wrong thing’. 

  5. You always over-explain and over justify, needing to appease others. 

Why do you look for approval from others?

Social norms mean you grow up being defined by many external factors:

  • The family / culture / race / religion you come from.

  • The schools you went to and what level of education you have.

  • The career you’ve chosen, how successful you are and how much you earn.

  • Your social and professional networks.

  • Where you live, what car you drive and where your kids go to school.

  • What life and professional accomplishments you have.

  • Whether or not you’re married and have kids.

  • How well travelled and cultured you are and more.

Many people experience either acceptance or rejection based on the above. You see this at parties when someone is asked what they do for a living. There are very different reactions to: “I’m a doctor with a degree from Harvard” vs. "I’m unemployed and staying with my parents at the moment”. Whether we like it or not, we are all judged on our life stories and achievements - and if you're really honest with yourself, you judge others as well. 

The secret to happiness is how much you allow other people's opinions of you to carry any weight whatsoever. Some people don’t care what other people think, but approval addicts care too much and only feel worthy if they find acceptance from others. 

Everybody wants approval. It’s normal to want acknowledgement and affirmation from the people in your life. However, seeking validation from others will become a problem when you are simply incapable of having any self esteem or self confidence without someone else's approval of you. If you are constantly needing that from outside of yourself, and you can't find it within, then you are an approval addict. 

When you think about it, it's irrational seeking approval from others when we all have very different ideas of what determines worth in the world. Every human being has their own version of reality and no two realities are the same. What one person thinks is valuable and worthy is not what another person thinks is valuable and worthy. This is the fundamental problem with seeking approval from others - you assume they approve of the same things that you do. 

What makes it worse or triggers it?

  1. Having a low sense of self from an unhealthy upbringing. If you weren’t raised to know your worth then you will always seek approval from outside of yourself. 

  2. Low self-esteem, poor self image and distorted thinking. You struggle to see the positives about yourself unless someone else points it out to you and even then you still don't believe them.

  3. Social media amplifies approval seeking behaviour. People thrive on the likes, shares, follows and notifications from those they know and, even better, from those they don’t know. Validity and worth is based on these ever-changing numbers.

How to overcome approval addiction

  1. Remember that everyone’s realities are different with diverse perceptions of what constitutes worth and value. 

  2. Ask yourself why you need other's approval and what will happen if you don’t get it? Will you let that stop you?

  3. Get clear about what you actually want for your life and why. Seeking somebody else's validation is just a lack of confidence in your own path. Define what is important for you in such clarity that other people’s opinions don’t matter.

  4. Do work around boundaries and learn to say no more often. (Don't know where to begin? Download your copy of my eWorkbook: The Freedom Factor to give you exercises and tools on how to start setting necessary boundaries in your life.)

  5. Step away from things not meant for you and let the people in your life deal with their own problems.

  6. Remove yourself from social media. If you can’t go a day without needing approval from people online - time to wean yourself off of these public platforms.

  7. Take other people's views as just opinions rather than facts. The minute you make other people's opinions the truth, that's when their approval matters to you. Learn to see their statements as mere interpretations and leave it there.

  8. Stop putting other’s needs first. Be honest about whether you have the time and emotional / financial / mental resource to give others what they’re asking for. 

  9. Surround yourself with people who support you on your own path and enhance your sense of self.

  10. Focus on personal growth and development. Work with a therapist or coach or sign up for courses where you can learn how to overcome low self esteem, create stronger confidence and rebuild your self image.

Take back your power from people who you think have the right to determine where your self worth lies. Remember that somebody else only has the authority to determine your value in the world because you gave it to them! You can remove that power from them any time you choose. 

I have supported thousands of clients for over 29 years to get real about their lives, to drop their masks and own their authenticity and to stand in their personal power so they can live with immovable self confidence. If you're ready to get real, then book a coaching session and let's start a journey together. I can't wait to meet you.


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