Needing approval

Needing approval is close to saying, “Your view of me is more important than my own opinion of myself.”

Are you spending your present moments in efforts to win the approval of others, or in being con­cerned with some disapproval that you have encountered? Dr. Wayne Dyer opines that if approval has become a NEED in your life then you have some work to do. You can begin by understanding that approval seeking is a desire rather a necessity.

He agrees that approval in itself is not unhealthy; in fact, he emphasiz­es, adulation is deliciously pleasur­able. “Approval seeking becomes a self-destructive behavior only when it becomes a need rather than a want.”

In you WANT the approval, you are simply happy to have the endorsement of other people; but, if you NEED it, then you are going to collapse if you do not get it. That is when self-destructive forces move in. “Similarly, when approval seeking becomes a need, you give up a sizable portion of yourself to the “other person” whose advocacy you must have.”

The need for approval of another person is bad enough, but the real trouble comes with the need for ap­proval from everyone for every act. “If you carry around such a need, then you are bound for a great deal of misery and frustration in your life. Moreover, you will be incorporating a spiritless non-person self-image that will result in self-rejection.”

You must let go the NEED for approval. It must be eradicated from your life if you are to gain personal fulfillment. “Such need is a psycho­logical dead end, with absolutely no benefits accruing to you.”

It is impossible to go through life without incurring a great deal of dis­approval. It is the way of humanity; the dues you pay for your “aliveness,” something that simply cannot be avoided.

When approval seeking is a need, the possibilities for truth are all but wiped away. If you must be lauded, and you send out those kinds of signals, then no one can deal with you straight. Nor can you state with confidence what it is that you think and feel at any present moment of your life. Your self is sacrificed to the opinions and predilections of others.

Dr. Dyer believes that politicians as a class are generally not trusted. “Their need for approval is prodi­gious,” he reveals. “Without it, they are out of work.

Therefore, they often seem to speak out of both sides of their mouths, saying this to please Group A, and that to win the approbation of Group B.” There can be no truth when the speaker is shifty and moves around issues with a skillful kind of maneuvering that is designed to please everyone. Behavior like this is easy to spot in politicians, but difficult to see in ourselves.

It is tough to handle rebuking and easier to adopt behavior that will bring approval. But when you take this easy way, you are making others’ opinions of you more important than your own self-as­sessments. “It is a vicious trap – and a difficult one to escape in our society.”



The need for approval is based on one assumption. “Do not trust yourself – check it out with some­one else first.”

Our culture is one that rein­forces approval-seeking behavior as a standard of life. Independent thinking is not only unconvention­al; it is the enemy of the very insti­tutions that constitute the founda­tion of our society. Make someone else’s opinion more important than your own, and then if you do not get their approval, you have every reason to feel depressed, unwor­thy, or guilty, since they are more important than you.

The transfer of approval can be a great manipulator. Your worth is lodged in others and if they refuse to handout their approval, you have nothing. You are without worth. The more flattery you need, the more others can manipulate you. Any steps in the direction of self-approval and indepen­dence of the good opinion of others are movements away from their control. As a result such healthy moves are labeled as selfish, uncaring, inconsider­ate and the like, in an effort to keep you dependent.


It is important to emphasize here that young children truly need acceptance from signif­icant adults (parents) in their formative years. But approv­al should not be contingent upon being proper, nor should a child have to get parent’s sanctions for everything he says, thinks, feels, or does. Self-reliance can be taught in the crib, and ap­proval-seeking ought not be con­fused with love-seeking. In order to encourage freedom from the need for approval in an adult, it is helpful to give the child abundance of approval from the very begin­ning. However, if a child grows up to feel that he cannot think or act without first securing the permis­sion of a parent, then the seeds of self-doubt are planted.

Rather than helping children to think for themselves, solve their own problems and develop trust in themselves, parents tend to treat children as possessions. Kahlil Gibran speaks eloquently of children who are treated as pos­sessions: “Your children are not your children, they are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself. They come through you but not from you, and though they are with you yet they belong not to you.”

The family unit nurtures, in the form of good intentions, dependence and the need for approval. Parents who do not want any harm to come to their children resolve to pro­tect them from danger. The result, however, is the opposite of what is intended, for without the ammuni­tion of knowing how to rely on the self in times of strife it is impossible to build an arsenal of independent behaviour for a lifetime.


Look at the way the world works. To put it succinctly, you can never please everyone. In fact, Dr. Dyer be­lieves that, if you please fifty percent of the people you are doing quite well. This is no secret. You know that at least half of the people in your world are going to disagree with you at least half of the things you say.

If this is accurate (and you need only look at landslide elections to see that forty-four percent of the popu­lation still voted against the winner), then you will always have about 50-50 chance of getting some disapproval whenever you express an opinion.

Armed with this knowledge, you can begin to look at disapproval in a new light. When someone disap­proves of something you say, instead of being hurt, or instantly shifting your opinion to gain praise, you can remind yourself that you have just run into one of those folks in the fifty percent who do not agree with you.

“Knowing that you will always get some disapproval for everything you feel, think, say or do is the way out of the tunnel of despair. Once you expect it, you will not be inclined to hurt yourself with it, and simultane­ously stop equating the repudiation of an idea or a feeling with the repu­diation of you.”

You can never escape disapprov­al, no matter how much you may want it go away. For every opinion you have, there is a counterpart out there with exactly the opposite view. Abraham Lincoln talked about this in a conversation at the White House reported by Francis Carpenter: “If I were to read, much less to answer all the attacks made on me, this ship might as well be closed for any other business. I do the very best I know how – the very best I can; and I mean to keep doing so until the end. If the end brings me out alright, what is said against me will not amount to anything. If the end brings me out wrong, ten angels swearing I was right would make no difference.”

Of course, you will never get approval from everyone for every­thing that you do, but when you see yourself as worthy you will never be depressed when approval is withheld. You will view disapproval as the natural consequence of living on the planet where people are individuals in their perceptions.


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