Approval Addiction: You Just Can’t Please Everyone

Our human need for bonding sometimes goes a little haywire. This is especially true when you continually look to others for approval, even to the point of becoming addicted to what other people think of you. Known as approval addiction, this behavioral health condidtion is defined as an intense desire to win the approval of those around you and avoid feelings of rejection at all costs.

Approval Addiction Comes in Many Forms

When you're addicted to earning the approval of others by any means necessary, you inadvertently create a self-imposed emotional prison. While you desperately want to belong and feel secure in relationships, the anxiety of "fitting in" robs you of all personal power.

Life Coach Amy Pearson says approval addiction is very real and it’s not just about people pleasing.

“People-pleasing is one kind of behavior that manifests as a result of being addicted to approval. But there are others. Some people seek approval by constantly trying to please others,” she says.

“Others, like me, try to get approval by seeking out achievement and being the best at everything. I call these kinds of people ‘performers.’ Other kinds of approval addicts focus more on trying to win people over by blending in. These are the ‘chameleons.’ Others would rather just not be seen at all as to avoid any kind of rejection. These are the ‘scaredy cats.’”

Signs You May Have Approval Addiction

Some classic signs and symptoms of an approval addiction include:

  • Rehearsing what you’re going to say and how you’re going to say it before going into situations
  • Mentally go over the things you said and did after a meeting, finding all kinds of ways you could have done it or said it differently?
  • Apologize when your house is dirty?
  • Keep your opinions to yourself when they’re not the same as the opinions of other people?
  • Avoid asking for help because you don’t want people to think you’re incompetent?
  • Constantly try to achieve so that others will be impressed by your accomplishments?
  • Find yourself stuck when you’re afraid you might fail at something?

Tips on Breaking the Cycle

Hale Dwoskin, the New York Times best-selling author of The Sedona Method and Sedona Training Associates CEO, says there is a simple way most people can break the cycle of addiction approval.

If you're ready to shed those approval-seeking behaviors, find a nice, quiet spot where you can get comfortable. Next, envision the one person you've always wanted to win over; the person from whom you really want approval. Once you have this person's image clearly in your mind, honestly ask yourself these four questions:

  • Could I let go of wanting to get approval from this person?
  • Would I?
  • When?
  • Could I grant myself the gift of self-approval and love - directly - as best I can?

Over time, evaluating your answers to these questions - along with individual therapy and group support to improve how you view your own self-worth - will help you break the obsessive need for approval. And once you do, watch out world - the sky’s the limit!

Learn more about treatment for behavioral addictions.

Image Credit: Instagram/InnerChange

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