3 Strategies to Fight Your Need for Approval

· August 21, 2018

Fighting the need for approval (and winning) can be one of the best things you do for yourself. This need has all kinds of negative side effects. One of them is that it distances you from the path you truly want to be on. Nevertheless, it’s a need or desire that we’ve all experienced at one time or another.

However, just because it’s common doesn’t mean it can’t be damaging. In certain circumstances, the motivating side of this particular desire can be very harmful. It’s important to separate the desire not to offend anyone from the desire to please. Likewise, it’s necessary to separate the things you do to please others but don’t address your true desires from the actions that do fulfill that need.

Steps to fight your need for approval

Getting rid of your need for approval won’t happen in a day. However, just like the eastern philosopher Lao Tse said, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step”. There are hundreds of different actions that could help you with this particular goal. However, we’ve chosen some that research shows are the most effective:

  • Identify the consequences of this attitude.
  • Improve your self-esteem.
  • Develop an internal locus of control.

Let’s take a look at each of these points…

Woman with internal locus of control.

1. Identify the consequences of this attitude

The biggest obstacle you’ll face when fighting your need for approval is recognizing that this need is influencing your behavior. Studies show that most of us aren’t aware of everything we do to please other people. 


To begin, I suggest you do an exercise to analyze and identify your own need for approval. To do that, ask yourself the following questions: 1) What would you do differently if everyone would love you no matter what you did? 2) If you were the last person on earth, what would you spend your time doing? 3) If no one were going to judge you, would you change something about your life?

These kinds of questions will help you rid yourself of your need for approval. That’s because you’ll be able to recognize what you’ve done because of this need. Then, you’ll be able to decide whether or not to keep certain habits, modify them, or eliminate them.

Improve your self-esteem

A poor self-image combined with the emotions that go along with that idea can make you bend over backwards trying to get other people’s approval. When you doubt your own “quality”, the need for others to reinforce your self-worth with their approval increases. The problem is that sometimes this makes you behave in a way that you really don’t like.

If this happens, your self-esteem will continue to drop. This can be a vicious cycle where the worse you feel, the more you seek out the approval of others.

In contrast, if you work to strengthen your self-esteem, you’ll realize that it gets easier and easier to fight your need for approval. It doesn’t matter how you do it. Loving yourself should become one of your priorities starting now.

“Love yourself like your life depends on it. Because it does.”

-Kamil Ravikant-

A woman holding a heart in her hands.

3. Create an internal locus of control

One of the components of a healthy self-image is having an internal locus of control. This strange name refers to the belief that you have great power over what happens to you. Think about when something happens that you don’t like. Do you place the blame externally? Or do you decide to take responsibility for it and work to change it?

If you have an external locus of control (you believe that your life depends on factors that you can’t change) then it’s more likely you’ll need approval from others to feel good. If you believe that you have control, you’ll look internally and less to others. Remember that, no matter what you do, there’s always going to be someone who doesn’t like it. So why worry about what others think of you?

Once you decide to take the reins and control your life, it’s extremely easy to fight the need for approval. At the end of the day, when you’re doing what you really want to be doing, external opinions tend to matter much less.

The three strategies that we’ve seen in this article mutually reinforce each other. As such, pick whichever one you want and start working on it. You’ll quickly realize that what others think of you isn’t a very important factor when it comes to making decisions.