Chained to Approval

Let’s say that after months of unemployment I finally landed a nice job. You are my new boss, and you just bought a new car.  You ask me: “What do you think?  Like it?”  Not wanting to get on your bad side, I say yes.  You like my response.  You decide to mentor me.  I tolerate that.

Over time, however, I lose myself.   I get conditioned or programmed to look at the world as you do, to value what you value.  I become dependent on the subjectivity of your approval.  What started out as adaptive approval-seeking led to a partial loss of self.  In seeking your approval, I got carried away by the currents of your subjectivity.

Lesson learned: to seek approval is to seek dependence; to seek dependence is to lose your sense of self. 

Sure, up to a point we all have to sell out.  I do it, you do it, we all do it.  But to keep yourself from going psychologically bankrupt, keep reminding yourself that all of this when-in-Rome-do-as-Romans-do situational hazing is just another Monopoly game with arbitrary currency.  At the end of the day, in the privacy of your own mind, know that only you have the absolute monopoly on how to view yourself.

Your mind is your business.  So, mind your own mind-business, Fellow Mind.

Adapted from Present Perfect


Paradox of Approval-Seeking

Proclamation of Psychological Independence



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    Last reviewed: 9 Jul 2011

APA Reference
Somov, P. (2011). To Seek Approval is to Seek Dependence. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 28, 2015, from


Select books by Pavel G. Somov, Ph.D.:
Mindful Emotional Eating Reinventing the Meal
Present Perfect
Eating the Moment

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