How to Catch Myself in Approval Seeking and Validation
A few weeks ago, I went out for some personal evaluation as the year 2017 comes to an end. After a few notes, I am suddenly aware that most of my effort is to maintain approval, seek validation of a group of people I’m not even close to. I was seeking validation.
What Obsessive Approval Seeking is like?
Seeking approval from others becomes obsessive when you value the opinions, beliefs and needs of others above your own, more important than how you view your own. Because of this, receiving disapproval becomes a painful experience. Your entire decision making process is eventually taken over by your need for approval of other people. You cannot take any decisive action without asking their approval. You sacrifice your own dreams and ambitions in order to have their approval.
Nevertheless, seeking for approval from friends, women, parents and relatives is not bad. It is only when it becomes obsessive when you recognize that it erodes your identity from the inside. Unfortunately, our need for approval fall under the invisible frontier called “blind spots”. It is hard to catch our actions that are so habitual that we never stop to question them.
Approval Seeking Behavior
Here are some list to see if indeed you are bordering on giving away your approval to others obsessively.
- Asking permission when it is not required
- Being too respectful for the sake of looking obedient
- Changing or softening your position because someone appears to disapprove
- Complying with a request because you can’t say ‘No’
- Saying yes to something you don’t want to do
- Failing to complain when you received poor service or a defective product
- Afraid of asking questions (whether in a team setting or with one person) you need to ask
- Paying insincere compliments to gain approval
- Feeling stressed or challenged when someone disagrees with you
- Spreading bad news and gossip to gain attention
- Consistently apologizing for your words and deeds
- Pretending to be know something because you are afraid to admit you do not know.
- Expressing agreement when you do not agree
- Avoiding people who disagree or challenge you
- Behaving in a non-conforming manner in order to draw attention
We don’t need to be right all the time. We deserve to be wrong. We are entitled to have our own beliefs, thoughts and opinions. Just because other people think differently doesn’t mean that he is right. If someone makes a convincing argument, it is perfectly acceptable to change your opinion; however, if they fail to make a convincing argument, you are just as entitled to stick to your own opinion and agree to disagree. Respecting your own views requires you to avoid approval seeking behaviors.
The biggest irony with approval-seeking behavior is that it usually produces the opposite results to those which are intended. If you take a moment to consider those people whom you respect most, you will find that one of their strongest traits is their ability to be true to who they are. They stand up for what they believe in and live by their own values. Approval seeking behavior is intended to get more approval and respect from others, yet what people generally respect is the very opposite – people who are true to themselves. It is nice to have the approval of others but the way to get it is to have self-approval and self-respect.