5 Attitudes that Betray Your Need for Approval

March 3, 2018

Albert Ellis, the well-known cognitive psychologist, puts “need for approval” at the top of his list of irrational beliefs. Many of us needlessly suffer because of this unrealistic idea. We think we need approval and acceptance from nearly all significant people in our lives in order to be happy.

Why is this idea unrealistic? Because of the simple fact that we will never manage to please everyone. Everyone has their own personal values, standards, and opinions, and they won’t always coincide with yours. They aren’t better or worse, just different.

As hard as we try to please everyone, we will never be able to do it. Plus, we will cease to be genuine. Then comes the anxiety and even rejection.

It’s not exactly the same thing as wanting certain people to like us. We are social beings, which is why we all like feeling loved. We want people to think of us when they make plans, we like being praised and feeling accepted in a social group.

However, we don’t need these things in an absolute way. If we tell ourselves otherwise, we will suffer and turn into slaves to something we can’t control: whether other people love us or not.

People think we need the love of others to be happy. However, what we really need is self-love. If we have that, we will have better relationships with other people and actually get more love from those around us.

Having an exaggerated need for approval actually makes relationships worse. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy: our misguided actions tend to confirm our irrational beliefs. Do you want to see what typical behavior of people with an overly high need for approval is like? Keep reading…

A woman with a high need for approval, upset.

Behaviors that betray your need for approval

Justifying everything you do and explaining yourself too much

Say you learn that a certain person doesn’t approve of your actions. As a way to take control of the situation, you justify everything you’ve done. You think you’ll be able to convince the other person that you’re right.

But it’s very unlikely that will happen. Personal opinions rarely change because of justifications or explanations. The most sensible thing to do is accept the other person’s opinion and maintain a good relationship with him. Try to forget this tiny, insignificant difference.

Changing your mind

Being able to change our mind is a sign of maturity and mental flexibility. But only when the person we’re interacting with actually manages to convince us. If you are constantly changing your mind because you’re afraid others will question you and disapprove, you’re the victim of an unrealistic need for approval.

We have to realize is that something we value most in people is when they’re themselves. We are drawn to people who are strong and confident. So,  stick to your guns and accept the fact that other people might not agree with you.

Getting angry with other people

Getting mad every time someone doesn’t agree with you is actually a cry for approval. The problem is that anger isn’t the best way of getting other’s approval. In fact, such a negative emotion actually pushes people away. As a result, you increase the possibility of doing the opposite of what you were trying to do. What you end up with is rejection, and the unpleasant sensation of anger.

Maybe the best way to move past criticism is to accept the other person’s point of view, and try to communicate yours in an assertive way.

You compulsively check how many “likes” you get on social media

The era of technology that we live in today highlights our need for approval in a unique, very clear way. How many people do you know who constantly post photos of themselves? The truth is that behind this behavior is a desperate need for approval. The number of “likes” or comments that they get only reinforces the behavior.

Don’t be a slave to the approval of your virtual friends. If you don’t get a lot of “likes”, you will be crushed.

A man with a smartphone.

Not saying anything when we don’t agree

People often act in ways we don’t like and we just let it go. We all make mistakes, and they can be fixed. However, the problem comes when you aren’t able to give the other person an opportunity to fix their mistake. Another problem is when you can’t respect an opinion that doesn’t align with your own.

When you’re afraid of disapproval, you stay quiet and don’t express your feelings. And you don’t claim what you think belongs to you. You just hold in your unhappiness, swallow your feelings, and feel awful. What you could do instead is express yourself — calmly and assertively. If you handle the situation properly, both people involved can leave satisfied.

You don’t have to please the whole world to be happy. If some people around you love you, you should feel truly blessed. When it’s in our control, we should always try to be kind and polite. But don’t forget that we also make mistakes and have different opinions than other people.

We don’t have to be friends with everyone or feel loved by people everywhere we go. What is really important is that your actions have your own approval. You should also learn how to respectfully express your disagreement.

Do that and you’ll see how love is like a boomerang. If you give it, it will come back to you. The more you love yourself, the more others will love you.