Lesson 7.2 - Approval addiction: what it is and how it works
Lesson 2 of module 7, whaddap! Can you tell I’m a little excited?
But... I need to get serious, because approval addiction is serious stuff.
Approval addiction is mastering the art of telling people what they want to hear and being someone they find impressive… all the while worrying incessantly about what others think of you, fearing criticism, and holding yourself back.
Letting the desire to get people to like you motivate the majority of your choices and actions is also a sure sign that you’re in the clutch of your approval-needing tendencies. You can spend (or better said, waste) your entire life seeking approval before realizing it’s a waste of time and it’s not working anyway.
The good news? It’s possible to change this type of perfectionist, approval-seeking behavior. Okay, my Perfectionist Bootcamp friend, let’s talk about that.
What’s behind the need for approval?
Your need for approval stems from this deep desire for others to love and approve of you and what you do. You desire this because you have given away your power. You think you need others to love and approve of you in order to feel good about yourself. You’ve placed these barriers, you’ve created these hurdles that you have to jump over in order to give yourself permission to feel worthy as a human being.
Is it any wonder that you procrastinate on your dreams? With so much at stake, it’s a wonder that you get anything done.
The biggest irony is that approval-seeking behavior yields the exact opposite result. Just think about the people you respect most. Most likely, their strongest trait is their ability to be true to who they are. They stand up for what they believe in and live by their own values.
Approval addiction is intended to get more approval and respect from others by any means necessary, but what people generally respect is people who are true to themselves.
How approval addiction holds you back
Approval addiction can hold you back in two different ways: low performance or high performance, as psychologists call it.
When approval addiction leads to low performance it means that the need for approval is negatively impacting your performance. You procrastinate, avoid doing important things, feel anxiety and fear, and get stuck in worry and rumination.
Wanting people to like you results in declining new opportunities, being too nervous to perform effectively, and showing signs of withdrawal and giving up.
If this rings true for you, focus on how the need for approval is holding you back from doing the important things. Once you move past this, you will be free to achieve and create what you want in life with much less stress and effort.
With high performance approval addiction shows up in an entirely different way. You’re a high achiever and get great results in your life, but it’s at the expense of everything else.
The need for approval results in doing too much, being unable to stop ruminating about challenges, trying to please everyone, not making time for yourself, working too hard, and being unable to say no.
If this is you, focus on how the need for approval is causing you to (1) do too much of random things instead of only the things that are important and (2) do things for others at the expense of yourself.
Okay, so grab your worksheet and use the descriptions I just provided to determine whether your approval addiction causes low performance or high performance for you. Also, answer the questions to see how your approval addiction is affecting your work and life.
Taking back your power
If approval addiction is about giving away your power, then we need to do something to get that power back.
That’s where the idea of ownership comes in.
To me, ownership is the idea that while we’re not always responsible for the circumstances that life throws at us or the cards we’re dealt, we ARE responsible and in control of how we react in any given moment.
See, with ownership comes responsibility, and with responsibility comes fear. But, trust me, what we risk in taking responsibility for our lives is far outweighed by what we stand to gain: our POWER.
How do we reclaim the power we have to control our own satisfaction, confidence, and love for ourselves?
By choosing to focus less on the validation we crave from others - whether it be a partner, a family member, a friend, or a stranger on the internet - and more on ways to find validation within ourselves.
We do it by wearing that outfit that feels edgy or quirky but that makes us feel beautiful.
We do it by sharing our creative work and not looking at how many likes it gets.
We do it by silencing the self-critical tapes on repeat in our heads and rewriting them with compliments to ourselves.
In the upcoming days, I want you to think about these questions:
Who or what are you giving away your power to? And what is one way you can take it back?
It might take some time for you to think about these questions and really reflect on it. But once you do, I want you to write the answers down on the worksheet. Because once it’s written down, it’s real. Look at what you’ve written down on the worksheet as an intention and hold yourself accountable for taking action.
That’s it for this lesson. I’ll see you over in the next lesson with some more tips to fight approval addiction.