Do you find yourself constantly seeking (external) approval?
Whether it’s done consciously or unconsciously, unless we are one of the few highly evolved spiritual masters, such as the likes of the Dalai Lama or Eckhart Tolle, as human beings, we all have an innate need to be liked.
Unfortunately, many of us believe that our ideas, preferences, and choices need to be supported by others for us to feel that they actually matter.
Inevitably, since we often make our choices and base our actions on what we think others will approve of, we end up losing ourselves in the process.
In today’s digital era, where the option of “like” buttons are prevalent across various social media platforms, this relentless need for validation is more rampant than ever.
Whenever we find others don’t give approval or like our posts, we immediately equate it to being not good enough.
When we really think about this, it’s sheer madness. And it’s nothing short of ludicrous to think that we are not enough because of such trivial matters.
What’s even more saddening is that this need for approval kills our freedom to have different opinions, preferences, and tastes.
We’ve led ourselves to believe that in order to belong and to be worthy, we have to be just like everyone else.
The need for validation causes us to feel that we need to be impressive; to tell people what they want to hear and all the while constantly worrying about what others think of us.
All of these destructive thought patterns are actually holding us back from being our true and our best selves and preventing us from establishing real and lasting connections with people around us.
In extreme cases, some people willingly put themselves in debt in order to impress people that they don’t even like. There was a quote by Dave Ramsey, an author, that I had come across which hits the nail on the head “We buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like.”
Admittedly, I too was a people pleaser.
In my younger days, I felt strongly that EVERYONE had to like me.
I constantly strived for perfection and took constructive criticism or comments as a personal attack and interpreted it as “I am not good enough.”
Fortunately, starting in my early 20s, I started to knock some much-needed sense in myself.
I learned that it’s futile, not to mention exhausting, to go through life trying to please everyone and desperately wanting everyone to like me. Because no matter how hard I try, that’s just not going to ever happen.
It’s impossible for everyone to like us because even Mother Teresa who many dubbed a saint, has people who disapprove of who she is along with her beliefs.
We need to accept that there is always going to be someone out there who is not going to like us for our looks, choices, ideas, and so forth and that’s completely OK.
After all, if we’re being honest with ourselves, we know that we don’t and won’t exactly like everyone we encounter throughout our lives either.
But how exactly do we begin to let go of our need for validation?
“Old habits die hard” they say and from my own experience, I agree that it is definitely much easier said than done to let go of our need for approval – but it’s certainly not impossible.
Start by choosing to consistently speak your truth. When you believe in an idea or have an opinion that differs from those around you – choose to stand by it.
Be aware whenever you are tempted to conform to someone else’s opinion just for the sake of having them on your side and obtaining their approval.
When it comes to social media, choose not to freak out when someone doesn’t “like” your pictures, status updates, or posts you shared.
When someone disagrees with you online or offline, commit to not taking it personally and refrain from the tendency of creating stories in your head that tell you’re not enough for being different and liking different things because you are enough and you are worthy – just as you are…
If you like to be physically active, a potent way you can fight that dreaded social media blues is by practicing yoga. Alternatively, meditation can also help you simultaneously calm yourself down and elevate your mood when you feel less than stellar about yourself.
While it’s wonderful and reassuring to have others believing in us and supporting our choices, there will be times that we need to be able to stand our ground, even if it means that we’d have to stand alone.
In order for us to live our very best & authentic life, we must learn to be independent of the good opinion of others.
This simply means that we need to learn to make choices and take actions that are unapologetically true to who we are.
Inevitably, by doing so, we’ll begin to lead a more joyful and meaningful life and inspire authenticity in others.
As a renowned spiritual teacher, Marianne Williamson said, “As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.”