I’ve told four people about finally choosing myself instead of drinks. Granted, I’m only a few days into this process so not many opportunities for disclosure have presented themselves but nonetheless, last night I was wondering if I should confide in more loved ones or not. Then I had to ask myself what was it I wanted out of telling someone new:
Do I want absolution for having hurt that person in the past? Do I think my apology will carry more weight because I’m trying to change?
Am I looking for support or encouragement?
What if what I share does not matter to that new person? What if they are indifferent? Should that matter to me?
Am I seeking approval?
If I’m honest with myself the answer is YES to each of those questions and while that is not necessarily such a bad thing, it is also good for me to give myself absolution, encouragement and approval. This has always been difficult for me. I need approval like flowers need sunshine. I blossom and flourish because of it.
I suppose most people do but the balance is upset when we don’t recognize our own worth and only seek these things from others. We stop listening to our hearts, do battle with our minds and then turn to loved ones, or facebook, or studying the stats on our blogs for proof that we’re doing well. There are downsides to needing approval from others to such a degree.
For me, even though my logical mind says it is silly, I still feel unheard, unseen, unwanted and then unloved. It’s a knee-jerk reaction sometimes and I have to consciously shift and correct my way of thinking to remind myself that my worth is not dependent on how others see me. It’s dependent on how I see myself.
It’s a lot of pressure to place on others as well. No one is responsible for your happiness but you.
“We flourish under the benefits of encouragement, praise, approval, and acceptance. If we live with encouragement–especially our own–we learn to be confident. If we live with self-praise, we learn to appreciate what’s around us. If we coexist with self-approval, we’re more likely to give ourselves–and others– a little slack.” Leslie Levine
In my travels, I’ve come across some very good advice on Tiny Buddha which I try to put into practice as much as I can. Maybe it can help you too.
How to Let Go of the Need for Approval
1. Build a sound sense of self-acceptance.
The first step is to strengthen your core foundation so that you feel strong enough to go with what feels right for you. This way, you will no longer feel the need to look to others to feel good enough about your choices and decisions.
Keep a self-appreciation journal, where you start acknowledging daily or a few times a week the things you’re most proud of about yourself: choices you’ve made, insights you’ve learned, things you like about yourself, times you’ve stayed true to yourself, or whatever feels right for you.
2. Let go of seeking validation from others.
Secondly, you need to practice letting go of seeking validation for your choices and most importantly, for whom you choose to be.
This means noticing your language, self-talk, and behavior, and identifying when it is coming from wanting someone else to say you’re ok, that you made the right choice, or that you did the right thing.
Instead, when you do make a decision, check in with yourself that it feels right, remind yourself that it is your choice, and give yourself validation for just being you.
3. Evaluate tasks based on approval-seeking efforts.
Lastly, start being honest with yourself when you take on a new task or commitment, whether you are doing it because it is “right” for you or because you want to get approval and avoid disapproval.
Sit down and evaluate your weekly tasks and ask yourself what is really necessary and important, and what is driven by people pleasing. Then slowly work through the “people pleasing” list and eliminate them.