4 Ways to Overcome a Need for Approval

How to escape life lived in others' eyes

Do you crave approval and fear rejection? Does your feeling of self-worth depend on what other people think of you? According to experts, this need for other people’s approval can be a sign of insecurity, and should be addressed and overcome in order for you to accept yourself for who you are and satisfy your own emotional needs, rather than relying on other people to satisfy them. Read on for four ways to overcome a need for approval.

Identify your beliefs

In their book, A Guide to Rational Living, Albert Ellis and Robert Harper call the need for love and approval from every significant person in your life an irrational belief. Their book says that approval is a want or desire, and not an emotional need or necessity. The book also states that when you rely on approval, you sabotage yourself by creating hurdles and unattainable goals of perfection.

Joyce Meyer, in her book Approval Addiction: Overcoming Your Need to Please Everyone, says that people’s constant need for approval stems from insecurity, which, in some cases, is a result of past abuse — be it physical, verbal or emotional. Meyer says that to overcome a need for approval, you need to face your addiction to approval and the negative feelings that come with it: usually guilt, shame and anger.

In A Guide to Rational Living, Ellis and Harper say a need for approval often covers up and encourages feelings of worthlessness. This feeling of worthlessness, and other emotional needs, should instead be addressed, tackled and overcome.

Accept yourself for who you are

Ellis and Harper agree it's important not to confuse receiving love and approval with having personal worth. If you base your value as a human on others’ approval of you, you are telling yourself that you have to earn self-worth and value. They add that others cannot give you intrinsic value: only you can decide you have it. You cannot rely on others to fulfill your emotional needs. Instead, you have to do it yourself.

Meyer says that a main step to overcoming your need for approval is accepting yourself for who you are.

Decide for yourself what you really want

According to A Guide to Rational Living, in order to overcome your need for approval and address other emotional needs, you should ask yourself what you really want, rather than what other people want or expect you to want. The authors suggest that by going after what you really want and by taking risks, you might make a mistake. By making a mistake and surviving and learning from it, you realize that people’s love for you and approval of you is not based on what you had perceived to be your necessary perfection. From your mistakes, you can learn that it may not truly matter what other people think. With this realization, according to the authors, your need for approval will decrease over time.

Replace irrational beliefs with positive beliefs

In A Guide to Rational Living, the authors say that our beliefs cause us distresses and emotional problems. If you believe that you need approval in order to love yourself and feel you are valuable, you will be depressed and feel worthless every time you don’t receive approval.

They say in their book that to stop these irrational and self-limiting beliefs, you need to replace them with new, rational beliefs. Meyer agrees. In her book, she says the final step is to break our behavioral patterns. An example of a rational belief is to say to yourself, “I would like people’s approval, but it is not a necessity. I would rather accept myself for who I am.”

Thank you for signing up!

Tell us what you think!
If you'd like to comment on this article, become a member of Gaiam Life.
Click here to create your account.