Seeking Approval

by Bob Walsh

This is part 2 – if you haven’t done so already, please read part 1: Approval Seeking first.

During my life I learned that there are different kinds of approval seeking behaviors. With some people it is very, very obvious. They’re imprisoned by their need for approval. They always do what’s expected from others and have an almost subservient demeanor. They’re absolute people pleasers. They seem weak and timid.

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I wasn’t like that at all – I kept an appearance of being strong. But inside I was just as weak and timid. I bought things not because I wanted them, but because I wanted to impress others with them.

I didn’t feel I need to please everybody – just certain people. I wanted “certain people” to approve of me and my actions. People who I somehow put in the same category I put my dad in: successful people. Winners. Go-getters. High-achievers.

If you were up the food chain, I would be seeking your approval. If you were down the food-chain, I would be seeking your admiration, respect or envy.

I had a lot of confidence, but no self-esteem. I felt worthless deep down, but I kept my chin high and acted like a golden boy. I spent a lot of money on clothing. You gotta look the part. I smelled like success – expensive perfumes did the job. I had the car and the office to show that I belonged to the group of people whose approval I so desperately craved.

There are so many places you can look for approval, not just your job. My girlfriends were always the kind of women that other guys would be envious of. But none of them could give me the intimacy a relationship should provide. They was a lot of fun, excitement and romance – but after a while it just became a stale game. And none of these relationships really headed anywhere – after I went a couple of times through the same circle, I realized that this wasn’t about them. It was about me. It was always the same pattern. And that made me take a long, hard look in the mirror. It made me ask the question: “What’s going on with me? Why do my relationships always play out the same way?”

I tried to figure myself out. And that was a lot harder than I expected. After all those years of running after other people’s approval, I was divorced from my own true self. There were a lot of things about myself I wasn’t aware of, I didn’t want to see or admit to myself.

I didn’t want to scratch on that perfect paintjob. Part of me didn’t want to know what’s underneath.

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But I finally figured out that I was an approval addict. Everything I did, I did to get other people’s approval. I didn’t do it because I wanted it to. I didn’t do it because I enjoyed it. I didn’t do it because I decided too (even though I told myself so). I did it all so other people would approve of me. Being “praised” was my drug of choice. It gave me the kick I craved, it made me “feel high”.

Continue reading: Part 3: Stop Seeking Approval (click here)