I want people to like me. I want to be accepted. I want my hard work to be recognized and rewarded.
At the right doses, these traits are positive. When the balance tilts too much towards seeking external approval, we experience adverse effects.
We turn up the volume on the judgments and opinions of others. We lose sight of what we want.
We wait for the world to give us permission to take action. We compare ourselves to others.
These behaviors are markers that signal that we’re off-balance.
An Overview of Contents
Shift from Seeking External Approval to Becoming Self-Approved
The shift towards self-approval starts by identifying the habits you want to change. Do you seek external approval?
Do you compare yourself to others? Do you try to live up to the expectations of others? Do you worry too much about what other people think?
Once you’ve identified these behaviors, you can start replacing them with behaviors that look internally for acceptance, validation, and approval.
When you stamp your own approval, you’re not pushed around by outside forces anymore.
You can tilt the scale back into balance by giving yourself green lights, unlocking your authentic self, living your beliefs, and becoming the star of your movie.
“The people who receive the most approval in life are the ones who care the least about it, so technically, if you want the approval of others, you need to stop caring about it.” Wayne Dyer
1. Don’t Look for External Approval, Give Yourself Green Lights Instead
When we seek approval, we present different versions of ourselves depending on the circumstance. In each scenario, we transform into the person who will be judged favorably.
We try to please everyone in exchange for their approval. Yet, the more we seek approval, the less likely we are to get it.
People can sense when you’re not being your authentic self.
When I drift towards approval-seeking behaviors, I become self-conscious. I over-analyze conversations.
I ask myself questions like, did I talk too much? Should I have voiced my opinion? Was I too loud?
I start holding back my unique personality, quirks, and opinions in the hopes of being liked and accepted. I start asking for permission to do what I want.
For instance, I ask for advice from my friends even when I’ve already decided what to do. Or I’ll wait to see if others agree with my decision before committing.
If you want to learn from the experiences of others, seek their advice. If you just want permission to do what you want, give yourself the green light instead.
Here are a few prescriptions to give yourself green lights:
- Clearly identify what you want, why you want it, and the price you’re willing to pay to achieve it. Write it down. Read it every day. Keep your hopes, visions, and dreams in the front of your mind.
- Start making decisions without any outside input. If you want to learn to cook, buy a cookbook and try new recipes without asking your friends for advice on how to get started.
- For bigger decisions like changing your career or taking a year off to travel, block out the world at the beginning of the process. Get input from friends, family, and mentors after you’ve fully formed your opinion.
- Find out what you want before you ask for advice. Ask yourself the following questions to gain clarity: what excites you? What are your fears? Are you comfortable with the level of risk? Are you willing to live with the results?
Through small actions, your self-approved muscle will grow over time. Giving yourself green lights will become natural. As a result, you’ll stop seeking permission from others.
You’ll stop looking to the outside world to tell you that your beliefs, opinions, and dreams are acceptable. You’ll become self-approved.
2. Don’t Compare Yourself to Others, Unlock Your Authentic Self Instead
When we compare ourselves to others, we chase symbols of status and success. We are validated by money and achievement.
We boost our self-esteem by feeling like we’re better than our peers. Habitually comparing yourself to others results in evaluating and rating yourself.
In this frame of mind, you need to prove your worth. You need the world to agree with you.
We respond to every criticism and disagreement instead of directing our energy towards running our own race. We can let go of the need to prove we’re right.
Other people don’t think about us as often as we imagine they do. They’re concerned about their hopes, dreams, and fears.
This is good news. It means that today’s criticisms will quickly fade away. A week later, everyone will have moved on to the next issue.
Here are a few prescriptions to unlock your authentic self:
- Start voicing your opinions before asking others what they think. Express your opinions confidently even when you know others will disagree.
- Get comfortable with people dismissing and criticizing your point of view. Let go of the need to defend or justify why you’re right.
- Accept yourself the way you are, including weaknesses and imperfections. This lightens the pressure you put on yourself. It frees you to turn your attention to situations under your control.
- The present has already been delivered. It’s set in stone. Accept it. From here, you can strive to surpass your current circumstances. You can shape your future.
Accepting yourself doesn’t imply that you become complacent and resign to mediocrity. Instead, it’s the way to move forward.
There’s no point in fighting against where you are in life. Accept yourself, express yourself, and unlock your true self.
“You have no responsibility to live up to what other people think you ought to accomplish. I have no responsibility to be like they expect me to be.” Richard Feynman
3. Don’t Live Up To The Expectations of Others, Live Your Beliefs Instead
Externally approved Sally deeply wants to be accepted by everyone. She doesn’t want to disappoint her friends or family.
She constantly cycles through how her choices will be evaluated by others. Will my mom approve?
Will my sister think I’m making the right move? Will they criticize me? Will they understand why I’m doing this?
After spending so much time thinking about how others will view her decision, Externally approved Sally loses clarity on what she wants. Her original thoughts and desires become cloudy and out of focus.
Seeking external validation is a heavy burden that affects every major decision in her life. Sally makes safe choices that will not be criticized.
She’s afraid to take uncommon or unconventional paths. She chooses a career that lives up to the expectations of her parents.
Self-approved Mary takes a different approach. When she looks for a new job, her thought process revolves around what she wants.
Is it a better growth opportunity? Will I fit in with the new team? Is this the right move for me? Do the requirements of the job line up with my skills?
Mary realizes that she’s driven by her unique background, beliefs, skills, and passions. She doesn’t try to fit into the expectations and values of others.
When making decisions, Mary doesn’t have to consider as many variables as Sally. Mary simply listens to her instincts and intuitions.
Here are a few prescriptions to live your beliefs:
- Wait a few hours or even a day before you tell your friends about your next promotion. By the time you share the good news, you’re letting them in on your excitement and celebration. You’re not looking for anything in return.
- Hold back from sending texts or emails where you’re fishing for praise and recognition. Give yourself a high-five instead.
- Fill up your validation tank instead of waiting for others to do it.
When you starve the need for external approval, you can shift your energy to living your beliefs.
“Care about what other people think and you will always be their prisoner.” Lao Tzu
4. Don’t Worry About What Other People Think, Star in Your Movie Instead
Worrying too much about the opinions of others indicates that you’re not at the center of your reality. You become a piece in the big chessboard of life, constantly trying to read the board and project where all the pieces are moving.
Giving others too much of your mental real estate is illustrated by certain behaviors: having imaginary conversations and arguments in your head. Doing things with the goal of getting a reaction from others.
Explaining and justifying your actions so others will agree with you. When you cast yourself as a supporting role in your own movie, your self-esteem is based on how other people judge you.
Your sense of value becomes a barometer that reflects the latest results in your life. You feel great about yourself when you’re on a roll in life. When you experience a string of setbacks, your self-esteem plummets.
Here are a few prescriptions to become star of your movie:
- Identify your personal and professional goals. Are there goals on that list that don’t excite and ignite you? Are there goals you’re pursuing because most people around you want them? Start replacing them with goals that resonate with you.
- Quickly decide if the advice and concerns of others are backed up by relevant experience and expertise. If it’s not, let their advice roll off your shoulders without giving it much weight.
When you look internally for validation, your self-esteem is unaffected by outside events.
You become unbreakable. You’re equipped to withstand the challenges life throws at you.
You can do what you think is right without worrying about how it will be interpreted. You can stop looking outside yourself for acceptance and approval.
Then, you’ll become the star of your movie. You’ll know where you want to go and what you need to do.
You’ll be a train headed towards your unique, compelling, and inspiring destination.
Live your beliefs. Unleash your true self to the world.
Over To You –
I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below. What steps do you take to become self-approved and show your true self?
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