5 Ways We Constantly Seek Approval

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.

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8 thoughts on “5 Ways We Constantly Seek Approval

  1. brontegrey

    I was crying by the time I got to the end of this article. I knew that I had this issue, but had not realized the depth of it or the cause. My spirit guides began helping me with a number of my issues last fall, but I never even considered that this needed to be added to the pile despite the fact that I have been feeling a great deal of anxiety that I might end up disappointing my guides… Thank you – the timing of this post was perfect.

    Reply
  2. kvinar

    Hold your kids responsible for their actions if need be, but don’t ever ignore them or belittle their opinions, unless they are out of line with the law and the so called normal course of life. We are all a work in progress for our entire lives, from birth until death. Anyone that stagnates themselves to the contrary will just stay stuck, and miss out big time. Should there ever be a path of least resistance? Or a path of entitlement when there has been no contribution made? Everyone has an opportunity to make their mark in this world. Show your kids how to pull themselves up by the bootstraps and overcome adversity. Setting an example of strength is way more important than being superficial and having unrealistic expectations just because YOU happen to think that you know what is right for them and their innocent individual selves. Take a deep look into this child, and you might even see a bit of yourself in them, and the gifts that they have to offer you!

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  3. kvinar

    Where as in Adult Mental Health, we would call this a Borderline Personality Disorder. There is no perfect family. Nor any family that is dysfunction free. This is not possible. However, you can be a child’s primary source for acceptance from birth until the time that they start elementary school, which will be a huge foundation for the kind of person they will become as a teen and an adult. God gave all of the gift of individuality. We are all our own person with our own unique qualities, looks, body type, emotion, intelligence, and gifts that we are born with. Unconditional love is the key throughout any child’s lifetime. Even when they are out on their own, and parenting their own children, they will take all of these skill with them and bestow them on their own offspring. Children learn what they live. If they are abused in any shape or form, there is a big chance that this chain will continue when they have children of their own. If you ever have the chance to break this chain, despite any abuse or neglect that you have ever suffered, please do this to give your children any kind of fighting chance to make it in our very opinionated, troublesome, difficult world today. If a parent has the ability to tap into the gifts they see in their children, and bring the best out in them, even if they don’t go with playing the piano, or whatever it is that you might find unique in your child, at least they know that you saw them for what they might have to offer, they will know that they are loved. Knowing this will bring out the best in them for the greater good no matter what, just because they knew you loved them enough to believe in them that they could and did the best that they could.

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  4. kroo

    Once again a thought provoking article. Its nice to see personal beliefs in writing here on CP. After years of knowing people that have this ‘approval’ issue, it has consequently influenced me to lose the need to ‘live for others approval’. I had an awakening, so to speak, after being in a relationship with someone suffering from this very debilitating trait. Seems we fed off of each others insecurities until I finally realized how destructive these types of relationships are. When I no longer fed that insecurity, the less co-dependent I became.
    I have always wondered what it was but couldnt quite put it into words.
    Thank you for clarifying something that ultimately only we can change for ourselves. And its ok!
    While I may still walk away from altercation, it is only because I choose not to defend myself to someone that will ‘expect’ me to agree with them. The freedom obtained from being my own best friend is the most liberating milestone I have yet to cross.
    peace and love everyone

    Reply
  5. misskrystalmisskrystal

    Very nice article, thanks, Carmen. I feel once a person can let go of needing, “Approval”-well, that is when real freedom, within, begins. As long as we know that we did the best we could, well, that should say it all.
    I see “Approval”– or, needing approval, as a major limitation for spiritual growth and true self love.
    Some of us with close Virgo planets have had this challenge-As I have noticed, many persons, including myself (Virgo rising), have had the osbtacle of needing approval. Of course, other signs have this too, but a lot of people with close Virgo planets, have had this battle. Good news is, once we see what a limitation it is for our spirit and soul, we can develop a new behavior and, learned attitude, which usually results in becoming, “Approval free.” The key is doing the best we can, and learning detachment from trying to people please. Thanks! Miss Krystal

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  6. Jacqueline

    Hi Carmen,
    I think we all know someone who fits one or more of these categories, once we realize that they truly are struggling with there own insecurity, that its not personal, its there own personal struggles, it does help you not become too attached to acts that may seem hurtful.

    Blessings and Big Hugs!
    Jacqueline x9472

    Reply
  7. velvetoversteel

    Wow, Carmen, you described my own childhood and the results, which were my own issues as a teenager and adult, perfectly! I only hope and pray that I gave my own sons the nurturing that I didn’t have growing up. It was one of my main goals as a mother, even before I had began healing myself from being an ‘approval’ junkie. This article explains so much!

    Another ‘issue’ from that lack of nurturing or approval as a child, is the endless ‘I’m sorrys’! I said the word ‘sorry’ so much as a child, because I seldom felt I ever did anything right. I used to drive other people crazy with my ‘unconscious’, ‘uncontrollable’ and ‘constant’ Apologizing! That ‘bad habit’ continued until just the last year or two infact.

    Thank you once again, Carmen, for helping myself and so many others like Us! 😉
    Hugs & Many Blessings,
    Coreen @ VOS

    Reply
  8. Gina Rose ext.9500Gina Rose ext.9500

    Hi Carmen,

    I can honestly say, Carmen, that I’ve never been seen or thought of as the type, even as a child, to seek approval…..by anybody,…. for anything. LOL!

    I would rather stand on my beliefs,and always have, even though it may mean standing alone.
    Popular opinion never meant much to me……being true to me and standing up for the right thing, is what it’s allways been all about for me.

    Blessed Be )O(
    Gina Rose ext.9500

    Reply

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