Do you constantly worry about what people think? Do you leave parties or other social gatherings wondering if you said anything offensive or if those around you enjoyed your company? Do you feel defensive if someone criticizes you? These are all qualities of an approval addict.
Now, how would it feel if you just stopped worrying about what people thought? Can you imagine the weight that would lifted? It’s not about having an oversized ego, it’s about letting go. But it’s easier said than done. We’re social beings and for some of us, being an approval addict is strongly linked to how we view ourselves. Compliments from others feed this fire, making us feel a sort of high for the moment. Here’s how to stop being an approval addict:
1. Love yourself.
Establish a strong enough relationship with yourself so that you no longer have to seek that love from others. Cultivating self love is the first step in relaxing the need for approval.
2. You’re only a character in someone else’s story.
Someone else’s opinion of you is just a perception. They don’t understand what goes on inside your heart just like you don’t know what goes on inside their hearts. You’re seeking approval from someone based on how well you put up a front.
3. Notice when you’re worried about approval.
Some of us hide who we really are in an effort to seek approval. And when we don’t gain that approval we may lash out at the person who’s positive judgement we crave. Or we may find parts of that person to criticize. Or we may internalize the pain. It’s just about noticing when you’re seeking approval and releasing that need. Knowing is half the battle.
4. Surround yourself by less judgmental people.
If you’ve surrounded yourself by people who tend to criticize, you’re sure to be on the negative end of that criticism at some point. It’s just a matter of when. But surrounding yourself by a group of friends that’s less likely to judge and criticize makes it easier to avoid seeking approval.
5. Turn your energy toward others.
Obsessing about what other people think about you is actually a selfish proposition because you’re constantly absorbed in yourself. Turning your energy to others by volunteering and caring for your community can help lift some of that weight.
We all worry about what people think, it’s part of who we are as people. But those who seek approval less often tend to happier and more content. It’s about stepping back and noticing that at times we’re vulnerable. If we’re constantly worried about what people think, we’re less likely to show our authentic self, and in the end, the world is missing out on a treat. Take steps to release the burden of approval addiction and you’ll be a much happier person for it.
Related on EcoSalon
Image of a worried woman Shuttershock