End Approval Addiction
By Finding Approval Within
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February 21, 2010
Approval addiction is the need for validation from others in order to feel ‘good enough’ about ourselves. If we cannot feel good about ourselves, our creative efforts, or our lives without hearing from those around us that we are indeed doing a good job, we are putting ourselves in a very powerless position.
While most of us enjoy appreciation for our efforts, there is a huge difference between a healthy pleasure in compliments, and approval addiction. The first problem with an excessive need to be validated by those around us for everything we do, is that we are relying on something that is beyond our control to make us feel good. The only way that we can truly feel good about ourselves and our lives is to create our validation within ourselves.
Another issue is that seeking approval from others will never fill the void that is created by a lack of self-approval, and this is where the addiction sets in. Because we are looking to other people to give us what we have failed to create within ourselves, we find that we cannot get enough. No matter how many times our loved ones tell us we are great, or how many compliments we receive, it is never enough, because we can’t absorb what we are greedily seeking.
The words of others can be like the icing on the cake of our solid sense of rightness in ourselves, but if we don’t have that cake to start with, no amount of icing is going to do us much good. We have got to approve of ourselves first. If we can create a healthy self approval, then we will be able to accept both praise and criticism from others, without either being always hungry for more, or feeling shattered.
Approval addiction is usually a long-held and deeply rooted problem, and often stems from a lack of approval in childhood. While it is good and healthy to understand and acknowledge the origin of the problem, it is not helpful to dwell on what we didn’t have in the past. We need to make a conscious choice, as adults, to create what we need in the present.
Forgiving those we feel withheld approval in our formative years can be a vital step in letting go of past hurt, and being able to move forward in a positive direction. Forgiveness does not mean agreeing that what was done is right, but rather, accepting that the person concerned did things in the only way they felt able at the time. It is letting go of the hurt and blame that keeps us feeling the pain of our past into the present.
Once we recognize that approval addiction is creating a problem in our lives, we can take steps to heal this by creating the approval and validation we need within ourselves. We need to accept that it is not anyone else’s job to make us feel good about ourselves. We must do this internally. There is no other way.
To begin creating a sense of being good enough without validation from others can be a daunting prospect. If you have craved approval for years from other people, it can be downright scary to think of letting go of that need. As with many issues in our lives, I believe that one of the best tools we can use is affirmations.
I am currently becoming aware of how much I have relied on the opinion of my husband, and how unhealthy this has been. If he didn’t love everything I ever did, I would feel betrayed, and I am just realizing how harmful this pattern has been, both to me and to our relationship. It is a terrible burden to be held accountable for someone else’s self-esteem, and I am sorry that I have placed this burden on someone whom I love deeply. I am going to need a lot of affirmations, time, and patience to break this long-held habit, but awareness is a vital first step. Awareness and a willingness to change things for the better, however difficult, painful, or gradual that change will be.
If approval addiction is an issue in your life, I encourage you to be aware of the pattern, and take courage from the fact that, like any other harmful habit, it can be changed. Although I have some work ahead of me to overcome my own approval addiction, I am absolutely certain that I can, and I will. I believe that if there is anything in your life that you want to change, with belief and commitment, change is not only possible, but inevitable. If we think we can, we can.
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