Learn to give yourself the 'thumbs up'. Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at freedigitalphotos.net
I believe it is quite natural for human beings to seek approval. Evolutionary survival instincts meant that ‘there was safety in numbers’.
When we gain approval, we may become more confident and certain in ourselves. We often associate being approved of with being liked. When other people give us the ‘thumbs up’, we may feel more worthwhile. So there is desire, to varying degrees, to be approved of as a person –it validates us.
We often also feel more comfortable if our actions and choices are approved of. Others’ approbation of a particular behaviour may help give us confidence to make a decision we feel unsure of.
However, as we all know, it is ‘impossible to please all of the people all of the time.’
It is people who mean the most to us who’s approval may be most important to us: such as family and close friends. However, even though these people may love us and care about us, it doesn’t necessarily mean we will have their approval for some decisions we wish to make. Though hopefully these people are more likely to be supportive.
Fear of rejection is another reason people value approval from others. Again, this may be something to do with our evolutionary instinct of not being alone: way back in history there was 'safety in numbers'.
Obviously, however, no matter how close somebody is to us, they are not always going to approve of our choices. The best scenario, of course, is when those close to us are supportive of us, even though they might not approve of our choices. However, unfortunately some of our close circle may express disapproval and not act as supportively.
It takes a certain degree of self-confidence and certainty in one’s values and decisions to feel one can risk disapproval.
If we ask each of the individuals in our close circle of friends, as well as our family, “What do you think?” the odds are you are going to get a range of varying opinions.
However, there is a risk of being inauthentic if you are making decisions to get the thumbs up from others.
I have often made the mistake of asking everyone who is important to me “What do you think I should do?” or “Is this a good idea”. As mentioned, not surprisingly, I will get a whole plethora of different responses. So who’s right?!
No-one knows you like you do. Because everyone is going to say something different anyway (most of the time), it may leave you in a state of feeling confused. You may feel split about whose approval means the most to you. Especially if you fear your close friends and family might abandon you, or withdraw affection and criticise your decisions, you may have another problem on your hands besides which decision to make: you may become obsessed by whose approval means the most of you.
There probably are plenty of folk reading this who would say they really don’t worry about whether other people approve. These people often have higher self-esteem and self-confidence.
However, if pleasing people is important to you, you probably are used to asking what you should do for many decisions. This is especially true if you don’t think about whether you approve of your choice or yourself.
In fact, approval seeking may be so ingrained, others’ approbation so important that after a while you may feel quite out of touch with what in fact you want. You may be so busy seeking approval from others, you may compromise your integrity and authenticity, without even realising it because you are out of touch with who you are
Seeking approval from others may be quite ingrained. Therefore, if you are willing to be brave and ‘do what you want, it may feel uncomfortable at first. You may feel confused about what to do, because you are so used to asking others.
However, if you go to a quiet place, firstly tell yourself you will empty your mind of others’ expectations, real or imagined. Ponder what it is that you may normally ask others about. Now, with them out of your mind, you are now in a position to allow your intuition, that inner knowingness to signal to you.
In the quiet, devoid of others’ voices saying “should/should not” let your heart speak to you.
This may be difficult at first, but being true to yourself is necessary to achieve a degree of ‘being whole’. However, over time, as your confidence grows, you will find you are increasingly in touch with what you want.
Give yourself a pat on the back and say ‘well done’. This is the start of your journey to self-validation, which is much more empowering, because you are not putting the power in others’ hands.
It may be easier to give up approval-seeking if you do not even mention what it is you plan to do after you make up your mind. It’s fine to do this with people who will respect your decision, but some people might put forth a comment, even if you don’t specifically ask for their approval.
You may find it beneficial to do your own thing you have approved of quietly. Even once you have gone ahead, having given yourself ‘the thumbs up’, because you are in the early stages of relying on just self-approbation, you’ll want to feel comfortable doing this before telling people what you have decided.
Over time, your confidence will grow. That inner voice will become clearer with regard to your personal values. Feel good you are being authentic.
You don’t even need to share your self-approved actions. Unless it involves another person, others don’t have to know.
You will find self-approval a much easier way to live. A feeling of being true to yourself, that you are acting in line with your intuition and being in control will result, because you are choosing what to do. You probably will feel stronger and more confident, also.
you are true to yourself, it may not be the easiest way short-term, but long term you will feel like you are are being you, that is you are an authentic person.