ARE YOU SELF-DESTRUCTING FROM APPROVAL ADDICTION?
For years, I was in survival mode running 200 miles per hour on autopilot and working overtime to be the sacrificial lamb for who I thought was more important than me. I thought I ‘had’ to do it to get ahead in corporate to gain the approval of white southern men who did not want me in the organisation and who were the decision makers of my career sustainability and growth.
Marriage was the societal and cultural norm and I twisted myself in a pretzel to ensure my toxic marriage appeared valid and loving to avoid criticism and embarrassment. Family and friends were no different. I gave, gave again, and then gave some more in all these relationships and situations sacrificing so much of myself and resources. I was exhausted and resentful knowing I could self-destruct!
I had to acknowledge I had ‘approval addiction’ it to heal! Can you relate? Approval addiction is a pattern of behaviour where you repeatedly seek approval, validation, and acceptance from others to feel good about yourself despite adverse consequences. This is manifested by constantly seeking praise, avoiding conflict at all costs, or compromising your personal values to please others. The struggle is a fear of rejection, abandonment, or criticism. This fear can come from a history of childhood neglect, trauma, abuse, low self-esteem, desire to maintain harmony in relationships, conflict avoidance, fear of inadequacy or failure, your worth comes from others’ opinions of you, societal pressure to conform to standards of beauty, success, or social status. Research has shown that women are more susceptible to approval addiction over men because:
• Women are socialised from an early age to be more concerned with social approval (politeness, caring, accommodating) to put others needs first to receive validation and approval.
• Society and its cultures often place unrealistic expectations on women to ‘always’ be perfect mothers, wives, and employees while also maintaining their physical appearance. This creates self-doubt and anxiety that leads to seeking validation and approval.
It is important to note that seeking validation and approval from others is a natural human tendency. But your self-worth is not dependent on it! It is excessive and problematic when it interferes with your ability to make healthy decisions and prioritize your own needs. Below are some examples of approval addiction behavior. You:
• Say yes to everything even when not in your best interest.
• Avoid conflict fearing that it will lead to disapproval from others.
• Constantly seek feedback to feel confident in your decisions and actions.
• Sacrifice personal needs and well-being over the needs of others.
• Excessively apologize even when not your fault.
• Overcommit to projects, events, or obligations to prove your worth.
I was able to overcome my approval addiction. I sought out and invested in expert resources to help broaden my knowledge, self-awareness, with appropriate actions. Some strategies I used that may be helpful are:
• Build self-awareness: Reflect on your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, and consider seeking help to gain greater insight.
• Practice self-compassion: Treat yourself with kindness, and challenge negative self-talk that undermines your self-esteem.
• Set healthy boundaries: Learn to say no to requests or demands that do not align with your values or priorities.
• Build self-esteem: Work on developing a strong sense of self-worth based on your own internal values and strengths. Identify your unique talents and abilities finding ways to cultivate them.
• Practice assertiveness: Express your thoughts and feelings in a clear, confident, and respectful manner. This can help you to communicate your needs and boundaries effectively.
• Embrace vulnerability: Allow yourself to be authentic and vulnerable with others, even if it feels uncomfortable. It will build deeper connections and relationships based on
mutual respect and understanding.
Overcoming approval addiction gives you greater self-confidence, more fulfilling relationships, improved mental health, increased self-awareness, and greater personal fulfillment. Do not put your happiness under the control of others which can result in you being easily manipulated. Approval addiction is a sure way to rob the world of your gifts. It can lead you to martyr yourself with everyone involved suffering. For example, the stress from the resentment you build results in a heart attack where you now must be cared for by others.
Your inner critic has two voices, and it is your choice on which voice will drive your behaviour. Your negative voice says, “You’re not good enough.” Your positive voice says, “You’re just as valuable as anyone else.” You control the choice, ooand your choice must be one that aligns with your best interest to thrive! You only need one approval – yours!
“If you live for acceptance from others, you will die from their rejection.”