Explore Confident Leadership Coaching

Need for Approval Keeps You From Moving Forward in Life

seeking approval from others

Some social scientists believe that seeking approval evolved from a survival advantage that group acceptance provided. That means... 

Seeking approval is downright primitive


Naturally, it was challenging to survive 10,000 years ago, and maybe impossible to survive alone.

Those that craved acceptance had a better chance of remaining with the group and survival.

Those that didn’t care about upsetting others found themselves kicked to the prehistoric curb and an early demise.

Today, though, it is amazing to think that kids and adults alike still seek approval from others in order to be accepted.

Photo by Nine Köpfer on Unsplash

Stop living up to other people’s expectations

In this day and age, approval-seeking behavior is self-sabotaging.

Trying to impress others is exhausting and minimizes your own importance and individuality.

You may know someone who is a braggart, and admit that it’s kinda annoying to hear him/her brag about anything, but these kind of people need attention and they want to feel loved and accepted.

Free yourself from the need to receive approval from others. Reality is you don’t need it because you can thrive all on your own without it.


(Psst! I have an even more in-depth article on people-pleasing and approval-seeking here if you want to dive in)


Six ways to let go of the need for approval:

1. Give your opinion freely

One symptom of approval-seeking tendencies is a hesitance to share your opinion.

You might say something that the other person doesn’t approve of. And since it was your opinion, they might not approve of you either. 

Give your opinion, even if it makes you uncomfortable.

Start with smaller things. When you're trying to start a conversation with someone, don’t be too conscious about the questions you want to ask. Make it simple and straightforward.

2. Avoid judging others

People will judge you back if you’re overly critical of them. It’s only natural that you assume others are the same towards you. Frankly, people will judge you no matter what. 

By avoiding this type of behavior in yourself, you’ll not be bothered by the assumption that everyone else is judging you. Allow others to be as they are. It makes life more interesting. Sit back and enjoy the differences. They get to be whoever they are. And you can't change them anyway.

Notice your thoughts.

Are you constantly judging others in a variety of situations? You’ll fear the judgments of others if you continue to be judgmental.

Nobody likes to be judged so a better option is to stop doing it before someone else does it to you.

Photo by Andre Hunter on Unsplash


3. Realize that disapproval can be used as a weapon

Many people use disapproval as a means of getting what they want.

They may disapprove of your opinion, clothing, hairstyle, or anything else about you. We all have different opinions and it is natural for some to disagree with you, don’t take it personally.

Listen to what the other person will say but you can secretly reject or accept it. If you don’t agree, explain your point but but there's no need to fight.

Call people on their disapproval of you. Ask them to explain themselves. Remember that most negative people are looking for a victim, not a fight. When you stick up for yourself, many of the bullies disappear.

Knowing this can free you from seeking the approval of others.

In many cases, they’re just in the game for themselves. Bullies will always be around so know who the real enemies are and pick your battles properly.

4. Be aware of what happens when someone disapproves of you

What is it? Nothing happens. That's it.

We seem to be born with an intense desire to fit in. But what actually happens when someone disapproves of you? The sky doesn’t fall on top of you.

You might suffer from a little anxiety or embarrassment, but it passes and will rarely be remembered by anyone else. Even if they do...who cares?

5. Do some things for yourself

What can halt this attitude is simply by looking after your own self first.

If you’re constantly seeking approval, you’re not taking very good care of yourself.

Show yourself that you’re important by focusing some of your time and energy on yourself. It might be a little bit uncomfortable at first. You might even feel selfish but this will do you good and will produce positive effects for people around you.

Photo by Aaron Lee on Unsplash

6. Fill your life with things that are important

There are more important issues in your life that you need to deal with. Look around you and see how many people need help.

If you had to run across the street naked to save your child’s life, you wouldn’t be worried about anyone’s opinion.

That’s because your child’s life is more important than your ego. But you don’t need a disaster to experience this.

Volunteer with an organization that’s doing important work. Write a book that you believe will change lives for the better. Find ways to spend your time on things you consider to be important, you will not only boost your self esteem but you'll receive people’s love and appreciation.

You’ll find that you enjoy more freedom in the other, less important, parts of your life.

Being overly concerned about the opinions of others is damaging to your self-esteem.

Each time you seek approval, you’re diminishing your own importance.

You’re causing yourself pain. Your opinion matters.

You are important, so go ahead and allow your individuality to be seen and experienced by others.


Take the quiz now:

What's Your Leadership Kryptonite?

Discover your kryptonite...and get your antidote!

Take me to the quiz!

Imposter syndrome: Why do I feel like a fraud?

Ever felt like a fraud despite your successes? You may be suffering from impostor syndrome. Left unchecked, imposter syndrome can lead to self-doubt, anxiety, and even depression. The good news is that imposter syndrome can be overcome.

Now I'm Curious!

Setting Boundaries Doesn't Make You Selfish, It Makes You Smart

Being able to set boundaries is one of the smartest skills you can implement. And setting resilient boundaries is entirely possible....even if they've been trampled before, or if you've "failed" in enforcing them.

Now I'm Curious!

Why You Should Raise Your Adversity Quotient

Adversity is a part of life. Everyone experiences it, but some people seem to handle it better than others.

Why is that? You might think that some people are just naturally resilient, but science shows...

Now I'm Curious!

How to Overcome People-Pleasing & Approval-Seeking

If you find yourself people-pleasing or always seeking approval, you're not alone.

And perfectionism is a twin of people-pleasing. They stem from the same thing…a fearful thought that our brain is feeding us. Let's solve this problem!

Now I'm Curious!