Whether you're trying to get hundreds of likes on Instagram or hoping to connect with someone on Tinder, sometimes it can seem like our happiness depends on other people in today's society. But there are ways to stop seeking approval of others. The key is to begin with addressing your own thought process. Rather than seeking approval from external influences, try to find true happiness by developing a more stable relationship within yourself.
"It's exhausting trying to be everything to everyone. But more to the point, it's unsustainable. Eventually the psyche just collapses in on itself, like a sinkhole of muck, pressured by the weight of trying to figure out who other people want you to be. To be truly happy, you must honor the truth of you. But all too often, finding this truth is profoundly complicated," says licensed marriage and family therapist Dr. Paul Hokemeyer J.D., PhD in an interview with Bustle over email.
Feeling confident without anyone else's approval means loving yourself first and knowing your own self-worth. President and CEO of the 4A’sNancy Hill said in a phone interview with Bustle, "You can't give away something you don't own already. You have to love yourself first."
1. Become Aware Of Your Actions
"The first step to stop seeking approval of others is to become aware [that] we are stuck on doubt, insecurity, or uncertainty. We must recognize that our actions (of seeking approval) comes from the emotions and beliefs that arise within us," says occupational therapist and well-being coach Shira Gura in an interview with Bustle over email. Once you become aware of how often you're seeking approval from others, you can begin to work on yourself from within.
2. Develop A Greater Sense Of Self-Worth
Sometimes you can be your own worst enemy by having negative thoughts about yourself. But quashing these is key to recognizing your own worth.
"Self-worth is knowing you are loved, valuable, and worthy simply because you are, and not because of what you think, say, do, or what others think of you. We tend to seek approval from others when our sense of self-worth is low, when we believe we have to 'perform' to be worthy of attention and love. I encourage clients to work through my 'Pyramid of Self-Worth' (from my books 8 Keys to Mental Health Through Exercise and Who Am I Without You? ), which begins with self-awarenes," says clinical psychologist, speaker, and founder of the AZ Postpartum Wellness Coalition Christina G. Hibbert, Psy.D. in an interview with Bustle over email.
3. Learn To Accept Yourself For Who You Are
Don't worry about what other people are thinking, but instead solely focus on what makes you happy. "It can be challenging to accept all parts of ourselves, but that is truly where self-confidence begins. As we accept who we are, we find we don’t need others’ approval or input anymore, because we know the truth about ourselves," says Hibbert.
4. Check The Accuracy Of Your Beliefs
While there's nothing wrong by collaborating with other people, you don't want to be persuaded because you may not truly believe in your voice yet. "By checking the accuracy of your beliefs, you will recognize that your story is not stable and therefore will be able to consider other perspectives, such as: 'I can consider I am good enough', or 'I can consider I am equal to everyone else', or 'I can consider the only person who can truly grant me confidence is myself,'" says Gura.
5. Practice Self-Love
Remember to be just as kind to yourself as you are to your friends. "This includes doing kind things for yourself, practicing self-care, and letting others love you, as well as practicing self-compassion. As we build our self-worth, our need to seek approval will diminish dramatically," says Hibbert.
6. Try To Understand Why You're Seeking Approval
Comprehending why you're constantly seeking approval from others can make it easier to eliminate the behavior altogether. "Before you turn to others for approval, stop and ask yourself, 'What do I think about this?' Then, 'Why don’t I trust my own opinion in this matter?'" says Hibbert. "Perhaps you’ll find you are seeking approval because you’re uncertain, or perhaps you feel certain, but you’re seeking approval because you want someone else to like or accept you. Understanding the motive behind your need for approval is an important step in overcoming it."
7. Journal Your Thoughts
While writing is already considered to be therapeutic, it can help you figure out your internal struggles, too. "Each day write a full page in a journal of just your top of head thoughts. At the end of the week go through the journal and circle consistent thoughts and feelings. Then on Friday make a list of the transcendent thought you had throughout the week and the circled words in your journal, " says Hokemeyer.
8. Trust Yourself
Don't let anyone else tell you your choices are not good enough. "Hold on to your truth and allow it to absorb into your psyche. When you find your self going into judgment around it, label the judgment as defeating thoughts and push them away," says Hokemeyer.
9. Try To Think Like A Millennial
"The Millennial Generation is less likely to do this because they're generally more comfortable with themselves." says Hill. "It's probably because of how they were brought up by everyone 'being awarded' for just participating. It's a belief that they have enough confidence with what they choose to bring to the table." While this might sound silly, essentially you just want to enough gain enough confidence in yourself so you can automatically believe in the decisions you make.
10. Stop Comparing Yourself To Others
Just because you're not going down the same path as other people doesn't mean it's the wrong path. "Realize you are a unique being with a unique purpose and path in this world, any comparison or need for another's approval is apples to oranges. And, if you are tempted to compare to motivate you to being a better self, just remember to take those comparisons with a grain of salt; you might be comparing your real body to a photo-shopped one, your organic life to a fabricated Instagram depiction, or your role models might be reality TV stars who get paid lots of money to memorize and read scripts," says holistic wellness coach Pax Tandon in an interview with Bustle over email.
11. Continue To Practice
Practice makes perfect, right? Remember that this new thought process is not going to change over night. "Don't expect yourself to change over night. Be kind and gentle with your self in this process. In no time at all, you will begin to experience a sense of well-being. This sense of well-being will grow into a generalized feeling of happiness, that you are safe and secure, content with who you are rather than who you think others want you to be," says Hokemeyer.
12. Take A Break From Social Media
Sometimes you just need to take a break from being over stimulated by social media. Try to focus on other things (like fixing up your resume or reading a new book) to help your mind unwind. "In a world full of media — social, television, print and beyond — we're bombarded with images of idealism. We end up in a state of constant social comparison to others, knowing someone else had '100 likes' and needing the same to feel validated. We become addicted to seeking approval through "likes" and other external accolades. We end up diminishing, second-guessing and getting down on ourselves for all of the things we haven't yet accomplished or acquired if we don't get that approval," says Tandon.
13. Become Attuned With Your Inner Voice
Learning to trust your gut can be one of the best things you can do for yourself. It can help you understand the path you're supposed to take, and feel more confident in the direction you're going. "If we practice, we can become so attuned to our inner voice that we always know what it's telling us and where it's guiding us, which is in the right direction. We only get steered wrong when we stop paying attention to our inner voice and start paying attention to outside ones. The only approval we need is from ourselves, and that keeps control squarely within us," says Tandon.
For you to truly love who you are as a person, you should stop worrying about what everyone else is thinking. Be proud of yourself and hopefully you will stop seeking the approval of others after using these tips.