How to Stop Seeking Approval from Others and Find It from the Only Person That MattersNone None
People-pleasing: it’s normal, we all do it, and we all know it’s not good for us when performed excessively. It’s easy to get caught up in what others want or expect, which can result in flexing our own dreams and wishes to fit with someone else’s. While this usually comes from good intentions, the outcome is often disappointment and resentment. Why? Because we missed out on doing what would ring true in our own hearts.
So why do we do we strive so hard to please others? There are two core reasons:
1. Sometimes we put others first because we have been conditioned to think that we must do so in order to be a decent person. While it’s important to compromise sometimes in life, if it’s habitual or we prioritize it over matters that truly mean a lot to us, then we’re not aligning our lives with our own desires. Our desires are a roadmap for our life—if we follow them, then we increase our chances of feeling fulfilled. If we ignore them, we can feel a sense of lacking or loss.
2. Having low self-esteem may also cause us to engage in chronic people-pleasing. Ultimately when we seek others' approval, it’s a sign that we’re not approving enough of ourselves. When we deeply love ourselves and are comfortable with who we are and what we want, then we can be happy, regardless of others' approval or disapproval, judgments, or compliments. When we find this level of self-worth, then we can experience a healthy sense of liberation. Essentially, self-esteem is the relationship we have with ourselves—it’s how we think about, and talk to ourselves, which is why it’s an ongoing process. In every moment, there is an opportunity to learn to love and care about ourselves more deeply. That means loving and approving of ourselves on the difficult days, as well as the easy ones, no matter what.
So how can we say no and prioritize our own needs while still remaining a kind, fair person?
1. Get into the habit of understanding—and prioritizing—your agenda. Get really clear on what really matters to you. What are you willing to bend on, and what’s non-negotiable?
2. Practice saying a kind, yet definitive, “no”. For example: "I would love to help you but I’ve planned to go out that evening and I’d like to stick to it”, or “That’s a lovely idea, I can see why you’ve suggested it, but I’m going to do it this way” or “Thank you, I appreciate that but I’m going to say no this time”. People might be surprised to hear a "no," but ultimately, most will respect you more for standing your ground.
3. Practice writing down three things that you like about yourself every day. This can feel awkward or silly at first, but it’s important to be a good friend to yourself and to celebrate what makes you, you. We, and only we, are responsible for our needs and wants. When we cease to expect others to fulfill us and validate us, and instead turn to our own incredible selves, then we are truly free to live a unique, purposeful and deeply rewarding life experience.
By The Bountologist, Founder of Bountologist, a website dedicated to improving self-worth globally and to redefining success as the cultivation of a self-defined, positive and purposeful life for the benefit of the individual and the world as a whole.
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