“Love is the essential ingredient. Without it, sex is meaningless, approval is bribery, and success is short-lived.”
We ‘approval whores’ are people who will do anything to get affirmation and acceptance from others. We’re similar to crack whores, only more dysfunctional. At least drug-addicted prostitutes know they’re not being virtuous when they sell themselves to get high. Approval whores like me, on the other hand, tend to think that we’re being good (saintly! angelic!) when we let others have their way with us in exchange for a hit of praise. The people in our lives are likely to reinforce our sickness, because we’ll do pretty much anything to please them, and what’s not to love about that?
Being dependent on approval—so dependent that we barter away all our time, energy, and personal preferences to get it—ruins lives. It divorces us from our true selves, precludes real intimacy, and turns us into seething cesspools of suppressed rage (of course, I mean that in a nice way).
Most of us want to be liked. We want other people to think of us as nice, friendly, kind and loving. Most of us want the approval of others.
Since childhood, some of us have been trying to get approval, trying to get people to like us and think highly of us. We may be afraid people will leave us if they disapprove of our actions We may look for approval from people who have nothing to give. We may not know that we’re lovable now and can learn to approve of ourselves.
Pleasing others is like sex: When we do it because we really want to, it’s a wonderfully life-affirming way to strengthen a relationship, but when it’s motivated by obligation, powerlessness, or calculated advantage, it’s the very definition of degrading. The key to an authentic emotional life, like the key to an authentic sex life, is to follow your real desires.
In order to live happily, to live consistently with the way our Higher Power wants us to live, and to tap into a way of life that is in harmony with the universe, we need to let go of our extreme need for approval. These unmet needs for approval and love from our past give others control over us today. These needs can prevent us from acting in our best interest and being true to ourselves.
We can approve of ourselves. In the end, that’s the only approval that counts.
Here’s a 3-Step Plan:
Real desire!? Anything we do solely to please others, in the absence of either real desire or moral necessity, is a way of selling ourselves, our lives, our energy. Ask yourself whether the dose of approval you expect to gain from this behavior is worth losing a piece of the real you. I’d be the last one to judge you if the answer is yes.
Get approval for getting disapproval. One of the best ways to break your dependency on approval is to set up a situation in which the only way to get approval is to get disapproval. To use this strategy, call a friend, tell her you’re going out to get some disapproval, and ask her to lavish you with praise afterward. It works even better if you have several people—your best buddies, your therapy group, your sewing circle—waiting to hear the tale of your rebellion. The genius of the technique is that whether or not you carry through with your intentions, someone is going to disapprove. Learning to deal with that could prevent a lifetime of selling out.
Agree to disagree. When approval whores disagree with others, we react by not reacting. Instead of voicing our real position, we smile, nod, make cheerful mumbling sounds. Next time someone voices an opinion that contradicts your own, don’t play dumb. Voice your thoughts and see what happens. At worst, you’ll weaken a bond that wasn’t authentic. At best, you’ll find that you can disagree with someone and still be loved. This is the way to build genuine relationships instead of tentative, bartered alliances based on the currency of compliance.
*These strategies won’t eradicate your desire for approval or the anxiety you feel when disapproval comes your way. What they will do is give you practice accepting such desire and anxiety without relinquishing your integrity!
” Today, I will let go of my need for approval and my need to be liked. I will replace them with a need to like an approve of myself. I will enjoy the surprise I find when I do this! The people who count, including myself, will respect me when I am true to myself. “