5 effective ways to overcome your need for approval
For a very long time in my life, and for as far back as I can remember, I was always looking...
For a very long time in my life, and for as far back as I can remember, I was always looking for people’s approval. After years of introspection and learning how to love myself, though, and overcome the hardship I had been through growing up, I was able to let go of that constant need for someone else to approve of my life.
If you’re anything like I was, you are longing for a different life, one in which you are sure of yourself, and where your intuition tells you where to go and how to get there, as well as one where other people’s opinions of you don’t matter that much – or even at all.
I’m proof that such a life is possible, and I know that you too can have it. Yes, it can be hard, and yes, it requires you to dig deep into yourself, but believe me: the rewards outweigh the effort a thousand fold.
On my personal journey to self-love, digging deep into myself, I learned a few effective ways to overcome this constant need for approval that I had lived with for so many years. And today I’m sharing what I learned with you.
1. Be attentive and notice your behavior.
The first step towards any change is taking an account of where you are now. To change your need for approval, it’s vital that you take note of when that behavior occurs and how. Try to be conscious about your actions throughout the day, and for a few days this week; take a few minutes at night to review your day and write down all that you’ve noticed about your approval-seeking behavior. Reflect and think of ways to avoid or change that behavior. And when you feel ready, start the process of change by putting some of those ideas into action.
2. Ask your friends and family for support.
When you have become more aware of your approval-seeking behavior, think of someone you are willing to confide in and ask for accountability when it comes to the changes you are trying to make in your life. Tell that person what your findings are and what you want for yourself, and ask them to help you by monitoring your behavior around them. When doing this, it’s important to also tell them how you want them to let you know what they notice – and ask them to only be positive, loving, and encouraging, but never punitive or negative, as this could in fact increase your needs for approval instead of helping you to move forward.
3. Rewire your brain.
One of the main things that helped me get out of my approval-seeking behavior was focusing on actively rewiring my brain. Through practices such as meditation, visualization, and yoga, I have realized that we are capable of changing our thought patterns and our beliefs about ourselves, others, and the world around us. This knowledge was a key element in getting me from a place of fear and unhappiness to the wholehearted and true life which I live now. Going back to step one, take a look at the list of your more prominent approval-seeking behaviors. For each of them, write down the belief that is causing the behavior. Once you have done this, rewrite the belief into a positive affirmation. Make a habit of going over your list on a daily basis – I do it every morning right before my morning meditation – and feel your brain change as a result of this habit.
Here’s an example from my own list.
Approval-seeking behavior: When someone does something or says something that hurts me, I keep it to myself.
Negative belief: If I speak up, people won’t like me.
Positive affirmation: I’m a very likeable person. When people do or say something that hurts me I owe it to myself to speak up.
4. What’s the worse that could happen?
With the need for approval comes a lot of fear. Before I learned to really love myself, my life was filled with fear. I was scared of almost everything and everyone, and most of all, of myself. I was constantly on the look-out for people getting mad at me, and so I was trying to keep myself as small as possible around others in order to avoid conflict at all costs. But one day, I couldn’t do this anymore. I was sick of the mask I was wearing and I needed to let go of all pretenses and just be me. While I was on my path to self-love, there was a question that wouldn’t let go of me. Over and over, I heard myself say: What’s the worst that could happen? Finally, I decided to answer that question, and when I did, I realized that whatever might come my way, it wasn’t nearly as bad as living a life of pretenses.
5. Practice, practice, practice.
After I realized that the worst that could happen to me wasn’t all that scary after all, I set out to test this new version of the world. Whatever I had to do, and whomever I was going to interact with, I decided I was going to be as true to myself as I could be, not thinking about the consequences and just seeing what would happen. I called this my experiments. From that moment on I would tell my friends when I felt our relationship was out of balance and I wasn’t getting my share of the friendship. Or only say yes to things I really wanted to. The results where liberating! Of course, some people didn’t like the new me. But most where supportive and even grateful that I was finally being the real me. Thanks to practicing being the real me so much, I was quickly able to create a new mental library of positive experiences that made my fears and my need for approval slowly but surely fade away. And the process to get there was fun and engaging, too. The more I allowed myself to be me, the more I attracted cool people into my life. As a result, new friendships were made, existing ones were deepened, and a new sense of happiness, love, and compassion for the world emerged.
I hope I’ve been able to inspire you. If so, I would encourage you to pick something you want to work on today, and take off the mask to let the real you shine bright. You are beautiful and amazing. You don’t need to be perfect. You are just right the way you are.
And if you feel like it, let me know how you’re doing below – I would love to hear from you.
May you love yourself unconditionally, always.
Hi, I’m Murielle. I created the online course Soulful Productivity™, a 6-week program to redefine productivity and help you get from overwhelm to flow, and I have a private coaching practice where I help ambitious, multi-passionate creatives and entrepreneurs start, grow & scale businesses, and create their freedom lifestyle. PS: I love Instagram. Let’s connect!