Why We Chase Approval
Ever find yourself pining after and seeking the approval of those who may not truly influence your day-to-day existence, whether it be a coworker, colleague, acquaintance or someone you recently started dating? Thanks to the multitude of positive memes and quotes, we are able to recite that our worth does not reflect on the other’s ability to notice it, and yet there is this pull to convince them that they are wrong in their judgement of us.
If you are living your life to the best capacity of who you are at the moment, why do they matter? Why do we continue to defend our versions of the truth in hopes that seemingly and ultimately unimportant passersby hold their views of us in positive regards?
This internal difficulty in shedding the need to seek approval comes from the lack of belief we have in our own intrinsic worth. We have a hard time believing that we are competent, accomplished, that we have something of value to offer in our work, that we are beautiful as we are, that we are enough, or any multitude of these messages and therefore, we seek the approval in order to validate that part of us that wasn’t nurtured through childhood.
When we go through life from early childhood with the condition that if we do this… then we are__________, we struggle to foster intrinsic sense of value and worth.
Take a moment and do a quick recap of how you grew to know that you are smart, or helpful, or attractive.
As children, we crave the attention of our parents or caregivers to fill our love bucket. Through creative drawing, school work, building something or perhaps even making sure to help clean up or take care of something, so they would not have to.
We mold our understanding of our worth based on the ever powerful statement, “Good Girl/ Good Boy!” and begin internalizing these messages of IF we are _______, then we are _______ (fill in your choice of validation)
As we continue our growth as adolescence into adulthood, we then transfer these beliefs into what we expect to give and hope to find in our love life. We may find distant partners alluring because their dismissive or lackluster interest is a challenge for our ego …
We might find it more exciting to be caught up in a push-pull dynamic with someone than to say yes to love that is readily available and healthy for us because it feeds that part of us that still feels like we have something to prove. Prove we’re lovable, important, valued or worthy. We may then take that to another level and hope that we matter enough to where we can change someone’s mind or behavior.
When we abandon ourselves for someone who’s not able or willing to meet our needs as we give to them, it is because our inner-child is hurting deeply and fears being alone. Any time spent chasing someone to give us this acceptance, there’s an unmet internal need for love and belonging toward our inner-child.
After all, Love is simply seeking the desire to be seen, acknowledged, accepted and cherished for being all that we are without consequence.
We are all going to have days when we show up as the worst version of ourselves. But at the end of the day, we all deserve to be with someone who we know is there for us; who loves us on the hard days and upon whom we know it is safe to rely and depend on.
Allowing anything less is giving power to someone else who will reflect back your wounds without being willing to heal with you. Triggering all of your insecurities by treating you like an after-thought or avoiding emotional intimacy.
It might feel unnatural to let go of this type of connection because you’re breaking a very old pattern …one you learned early on in life. Healing occurs as you sever your attraction and comfort of shadow relationships (the symbolic need to prove your worth to others) and move toward practicing how to let healthy love in.
Where do you start? We start this process of healing by recognizing these internal messages surrounding love, acceptance and worth. Learning the source of these patterns is not meant to assign blame to our early childhood caregivers as they were probably doing the best that they knew to do at that time. It is simply to gain understanding and knowledge of where these patterns came from.
By acknowledging how and why these messages came to be, we can work towards rewriting those messages and intentionally working towards walking away from those who offer less than what we all need to feel cared for and valued.
No matter what we strive for in life, our first responsibility is to understand how we came to be the way we are, and taking small steps to work towards whom we wish to become. Only when we heal the internal dialogue can we learn to love others and receive the same kind of healthy love in return.