When you seek approval from others, you add an unnecessary step to the decision-making process. You invite scrutiny from people who really can’t comment on your life because they haven’t lived it. You essentially give up your power to another person.
Why should others get to determine your life plans?
Why Do Some People Seek Approval From Others?
Humans are inherently social creatures. Evolutionarily, our survival and success depend on our ability to function well within a group. If you were accepted and valued by the group, you had a better chance of survival and sharing resources. If you were ostracized or rejected, survival became significantly more challenging.
This evolutionary heritage has made the need for social acceptance and approval deeply ingrained in our psychology. Several psychological factors come into play:
- Self-worth and Self-esteem: How others see us often influences our perception of our self-worth. When people receive positive feedback or approval, it reinforces a positive self-image. Conversely, negative feedback can lower self-esteem.
- Social Comparison Theory posits that people evaluate their abilities and opinions by comparing themselves to others. Gaining approval often means one is doing “better” in comparison, which can be a source of happiness and satisfaction.
- Belongingness Hypothesis: This is rooted in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. The theory suggests that the need for belonging is a fundamental human motivation. People have a basic need to feel closely connected to others, and seeking approval is one way to strengthen these connections.
- Validation of Beliefs: When others approve of our actions or beliefs, it reinforces the notion that we are on the right path. This validation reduces uncertainty and cognitive dissonance.
- Conditioning: From childhood, many people are conditioned to seek approval. Positive reinforcement (like getting a gold star in school or praise from parents) can make individuals repeat behaviors that garner approval.
- Fear of Rejection: At the same time, negative consequences from a lack of approval or outright disapproval can lead to a fear of rejection. This fear can drive people to seek approval to avoid these negative feelings continually.
In essence, seeking approval from others can be tied back to our evolutionary roots, fundamental psychological needs, and societal conditioning. While seeking external validation can provide short-term boosts to our happiness, long-term contentment often requires a balance between seeking external approval and cultivating intrinsic self-worth.
9 Things to Remember if You Seek the Approval of Others
Remember the following facts the next time you seek approval to refocus on why it isn’t necessary.
You are the One in Control of Your Life
Next time you have the urge to get permission from someone to follow through with a plan, remind yourself that you are the one in control. You can seek all the guidance you need from within by listening to your heart and following your passions. Others are often unsure about their life path, much less yours. Ultimately, you have all the power you need to take charge of your life. You are the driver of your soul; you know where to turn and what roads to take already. Trust in yourself and the Universe to guide you along your unique path.
You are in Charge of Your Own Happiness
Others can add to your happiness, but you shouldn’t depend on others’ opinions on it. Seeking happiness in others often results in disappointment because others may disagree with your plans. They may dismiss them and not understand what you truly want or believe in your dreams.
You empower yourself when you look to yourself as your beacon of hope, light, and happiness. You stop letting things or people outside yourself control your destiny and remember that happiness comes from within. Others can let you down, but you can never let yourself down if you remain true to your innermost desires in life.
Seeking Approval from Others is Time-Consuming
Think of how many other things you could be doing besides arguing with people about your plans and trying to get them to see through your eyes? To be honest, some people may never understand you or even try to see things your way. Asking others for approval adds a superfluous step to making a decision.
Instead of relying on others to support you, support yourself. If you have a burning desire to travel the world, go. You can tell others of your plans, but leave it at that. You don’t need their approval if you support your decision already. Time is precious, so use it to make your heart happy instead of convincing others to agree with every decision you make.
Freedom Comes When you Depend Solely on Yourself
Imagine how it would feel to make a big decision about your life all by yourself. Believe it or not, you have the strength to carry out your plan without others’ permission.
Next time you feel inclined to receive counsel from family/friends about your next big move, try to set your plan into action first. Don’t feel like you have to inform everyone when you make decisions; you can save a lot of headaches and gain freedom when initiating change by yourself. You are the creator and master of your life – never forget that. You have the power to transform your life all by yourself; all you have to do is believe it. True freedom awaits us when we rise to our potential and let go of our need to please everyone, which brings us to the next point…
You Can’t Please Everyone, So Don’t Even Try
Not everyone will agree with you all the time. Maybe no one will agree with your plan besides you, and that’s okay. Being a people-pleaser usually makes everyone happy except you; you’re the most essential part of the equation.
Everything stems from you – the quality of your relationships, your thoughts about life, what career you choose, etc. If you make major life decisions with everyone but you in mind, you will never find true happiness.
For example, if you took a high-paying job as a Marketing Director at a huge company just because your parents wanted you to, but you absolutely hated it, what good does this do for you? If you can’t come home at the end of the day and say you’re happy, nothing else matters. None of it is the money, your parent’s approval, your title or your status. Do what makes you happy. Others can either choose to encourage you or rain on your parade. Remember that others’ unhappiness with your life is not your responsibility to fix; everyone is in charge of their own.
You Get to Know Yourself Better
There is no relationship more important than the relationship you have with yourself. Looking to your inner self for guidance and wisdom will help you better understand who you are and what you want out of life. Take some time to tune in. So block out everyone else’s voices attempting to control your life and listen to your inner guide. By breaking the habit of approval-seeking, you can focus on figuring yourself out and learn to trust in your path rather than putting that responsibility on others.
You Drain Yourself of Valuable Energy
Not only does approval-seeking waste time, but it wastes energy as well. Energy makes up everything in this vast Universe, including you. If you want to use that energy most efficiently, cut out unnecessary actions. If you want to keep the fire alive and genuinely transform your life, you must dismiss the need to gain outside approval for your decisions.
Asking for Approval Could Discourage you From Following Your Heart
Let’s pretend that you want to drop out of college and travel the world on a quest to find yourself. Do you first worry about how you think others will react? If this truly resonates with you, you will never know unless you try, and you will forever wonder where life would’ve gone had you only listened to that inner calling.
Don’t let others kill your dreams before they become a reality. Confess your desires yourself and trust that your inner voice directs you to the right path.
Seeking Approval From Others Promotes Fear
When you seek approval from others, you begin to form expectations of what they will say. You start thinking about how the conversation will go if they don’t agree with you, and you become anxious about their response. Fear only holds you back, but love will set you free. If you genuinely love yourself and feel assured in your life, you won’t even think twice about giving up the need for acceptance. We have been conditioned to fear many things – other people, their opinions of us, trying new things, listening to new ideas, and much more.
Final Thoughts on the Human Desire to Ask for Approval
Remember that fear is just an illusion. Give into who you indeed are, which is abundant and unconditional Love, and you will realize the limitless power within that greatly surpasses the power of others’ opinions.