If you answered ‘YES’ to this question, you have plenty of company. I’m hoping that sharing a few thoughts will make a difference for you. We humans are meant to live in social context. From the beginning, it was necessary to live in groups in order to survive.
Connection and belonging is an important and natural extension of this for all of us. It makes sense that we seek approval and want to be accepted. The need to belong is universal and healthy.
There is nothing wrong with feeling validated and valued by the approval and acceptance of others or seeking a sense of connection and belonging.
When what others think about us becomes more important than what we think about ourselves, we devalue who we are, think negatively about ourselves, and become over-focused on pleasing others. It can become an endless cycle of striving to please at the price of neglecting our sense of self-valuing. This may result in being taken advantage of by others, loss of respect, and ironically, less approval.
The reasons we worry about what others think are as many as there are individual stories. So, I won’t address that here. A professional can help you with this if you are interested in pursuing a deeper understanding of your own story. Allow me to offer a few suggestions that may help reduce the power that others opinions have over you.
Be Honest With Yourself
When you are seeking approval or feeling unworthy, could it be that you need to change something about yourself or to improve to something that has been troubling you? Would you like more effective communication skills? Has it been weighing on you that you haven’t finished that degree? Have you been longing to enhance your piano skills or get out of a dead end job? These and similar thoughts offer guideposts to finding more self approval. If you admire something about an individual you find yourself trying to please, wonder if you may actually want to acquire this for yourself.
Question Your Thinking
Are your thoughts absolute truth or erroneous interpretations? We tend to think we see things through clear lenses when our lenses are actually tinted. Try to separate from your automatic thoughts and immediate reactions. Come from a place of objectivity. The negative messages you take from another may not be what they are actually conveying. If it is what that person means, is the negative message consistent with your truth and who you are? You know yourself better than anyone else does. Resist allowing them to define you.
Improve Your Relationship With Yourself
The quality of our relationships with others is directly impacted by our relationship to ourselves. Our interpersonal life can be no better than how we relate to and treat ourselves. Seek increased self awareness, monitor your negative self talk, and challenge unhelpful thoughts. Set limits and define healthy boundaries between you and others
Be as kind to yourself as you are to those you care about most. Encourage yourself as you would a child who depends on you to set the tone for how he should feel about himself. Your self esteem depends on that as well.
Know That The Behaviors and Comments of Others Are More About Who They Are Than Who You Are
Filter their reactions with the knowledge that they are flawed human beings, have their own internal struggles, and are the creation of the life they have lived. You can never fully know someone else. You can choose your responses, including what you will accept from them and how you allow them to make you feel.
Find Your Courage to Risk and Be Vulnerable
Be who you are.
Learn new things, develop new interests, continue to evolve and develop. If you continue to grow, you can expect to make mistakes along the way. You can learn from mistakes and create positive outcomes and feelings.
Show who you are.
It can be risky to step out and be authentically you. You may experience disapproval or criticism. There is only one you and you deserve to be celebrated and to be fully who you are. Having the courage to take these risks can make you feel stronger and better about your self.
I leave you with a quote from Brene Brown:
“Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.”
Cherish who you are and show your SPARKLE!!