We all want approval! It starts from the moment we’re born and continues until the day we die. When we’re children, we constantly try to get approval from our parents. Unfortunately, those who grew up not getting it can turn into approval junkies.
The worst thing for most people is rejection. If we grew up in a nurturing home where we were taught that it is OK to be who you are, even though this is less than perfect, we usually learn how to deal with rejection. Those who were constantly criticized, ignored or abused usually end up craving approval almost like a drug. Just like most “imbalances,” this one shows itself in many different ways. Here are some of the behavioral patterns that show up for approval junkies, i.e. highly insecure people:
1. No backbone/wishy washy. Since rejection and lack of approval feels almost like dying, it is necessary to not really firmly defend one side or another. To disagree or stand up for someone or something you believe in might result in rejection, which has to be avoided at all cost. Hence, when someone attacks them, their opinion, or a person they care about, they will usually shrink away and not say a word, which makes it impossible to figure out who they really are.
2. Disloyal. Insecure, approval-seeking people are not necessarily disloyal by heart, but they are so by necessity. Because they fear rejection so much, they have to be people pleasers, even if it’s at the cost of losing some of them. As long as the majority seems to do or say one thing, it’s still safer to follow the herd, because it will result in the least amount of loss.
3. Shallow relationships. The key word here is not quality, but quantity. The more people seem to “like” me, the less I will feel alone, rejected or sad. Also, deep relationships cannot be formed when one has no ability to hear any form of criticism, is wishy washy or flaky, and hence unreliable.
4. Sometimes moderately, but usually never highly successful. In order to “climb the ladder,” one has to be able to take losses, disappointments and detours. Sometimes, doing the right thing may not necessarily be the most popular thing. Being attacked or rejected for decisions that you may have to make on the path of “making your mark” can be taxing, and requires the ability to quickly recover and, at times, take it to the chin. It is virtually impossible to always be liked in business, which is not an issue for most of us, as long as we are respected; a path like this usually quickly sorts out those who cannot deal with rejection or disapproval.
5. Depression. Living under the pressure of trying to be perfect, trying to say what others want to hear and walking the path of least resistance will usually create friction sooner or later. And even if a person manages to stay under the radar without friction, they will generally feel exhausted and drained all the time, which will eventually lead to depression. They tend to feel very lonely, because it’s difficult for them to form meaningful relationships. A person who constantly operates on “lukewarm” is hardly alluring enough to draw attention, let alone keep it.
We can argue how it isn’t fair that the majority of the population is drawn to strong, assertive and self-expressed individuals. It won’t change a thing, and it sure as hell won’t make it better for those who cannot overcome their need to please and to constantly seek approval. We live in a society that allows us to “fix” pretty much anything that may hold us back or work against us. It’s up to us, though, to make the decision to break the ties that bind us. It may appear as if people will like us a lot more if we agree with them, but the reality is that we just end up losing respect for someone who has no opinion and therefore can’t/won’t do the “right” thing for themselves or others.