It is a natural human desire to seek connection and approval from our fellow humans. When we receive approval from our peers, family members, and mentors, it can be validating and elicit many positive emotions. However, relying on external approval (external source of validation) can mean you are putting your own fulfillment and well being in the hands of others. If this dilemma rings true, Ottawa counselling services recommend the following steps to help overcome approval seeking:

An Opinion is Only an Opinion
It is important to remember that what people say or think about you can never be an accurate assessment of your character or achievements. Do not give these opinions power and confuse them with factual or concrete validation. While you can be appreciative of approval from individuals you care for and respect, you must not get attached to wanting this approval in order to be internally satisfied and emotionally fulfilled. As the popular saying goes: “What you think of me is none of my business.” (Wayne Dyer)

Know When to Walk Away
Unfortunately, there are people in our lives and social circles who may exert negative influence and do not support your goals and visions. There could be a desire to seek approval from these individuals and alter our behaviour in order to please them. Some people will simply never accept you for who you truly are. Know when to walk away from these individuals and remove the hold they have over your happiness. If you struggle with making this adjustment, Ottawa counselling services can provide you with the resources to make transition.

Observe Yourself
Sometimes it can be hard to see the line between a normal desire to seek approval and an almost compelling approval seeking which is actually causing emotional harm. If you’re uncertain, take the time to truly observe yourself. View yourself objectively, but with compassion and self-kindness. Who are you? What are your goals and aspirations? Do you find yourself hesitating on decisions out of concern for what others might think? If, upon honest self-observation, you feel your approval seeking is out of balance, then you can take steps to change your belief system, emotional responses and behavioural patterns.

Replace with Self-Approval
Approval can be an extremely beneficial – if it comes from within. It takes practice and a conscious effort, but you can replace external approval with self-approval and reap many emotional benefits along the way. When you value yourself, trust your decisions, have a healthy self-worth, and can achieve happiness without external approval, life is much more rewarding and fulfilling.

The desire to seek approval from our fellow humans is entirely natural behaviour. However, if you feel that seeking the approval of others is beginning to cause harmful effects on your life, then it may be time for a change. Ottawa counselling services can help you learn to shift your perspective and practice self-approval instead.