Tag Archives: acceptance

How to feel better with yourself? Stop striving for approval!

We all feel great when we are praised and petted. There’s nothing wrong with it. Approval in itself is not unhealthy. The requirement for acceptance becomes toxic when desire becomes the need – it’s just neurotic behaviour.

Photo by Amir Geshani on Unsplash
Photo by Amir Geshani on Unsplash

In a fantastic book by Wayne Dyer ‘Your erroneous zones’ he writes about self-destructive forces involved in the process of seeking approval. As when we are mentally overpowered when we do not receive approval or when we expect it always and from everyone. 

Such an attitude risks losing oneself completely – often, people who are dependent on the acceptance of others cannot live in their way. Because to please everyone, you have to bend your arguments and beliefs. That is why people who want to flatter everyone are perceived as devoid of character and clear views. And the truth is simple – you can’t please everyone. Deal with it.

You cannot allow the opinions of others about you to take precedence over your view of yourself.

If your value depends on the opinions of others, you have a serious problem. If you want to free yourself from it, it will be helpful to figure out why you are seeking approval. To do this, you have to go back to childhood, because that’s where programming begins. *

Our relations with parents and teachers often rely on the need to be appreciated. If we are perfect pupils and behave as expected, the prize we get is acceptance, appreciation and even love. Our culture support this mechanism; this is why we pay too much attention to what others think. 

By focusing on pleasing others, you lose touch with yourself. You lose self-respect because you treat yourself as the least important person. You put on masks to please others and therefore you don’t know what you really are. You do everything to make others fun and pleasant with you – that’s why you often suppress your emotions. This leads to a depressed mood and a lack of self-confidence. It also extinguishes your life energy and makes you even more dependent on the opinions of others about yourself.

Fortunately, we can work on changing our habit of seeking approval. 

Start with the thought that you can’t make everyone happy and prepare yourself for any disapproval that can touch you. Be aware of it when it comes – name it and name emotions which will then appear. Realize that someone’s disapproval of you is someone else’s problem – not yours. It sounds simple but takes practise to make it a habit. 

Analyze all situations in which you put someone else’s opinion above yours. Do you succumb to your partner regarding the appearance or design of the apartment? Do you still obey your parents’ instructions so as not to offend them? Do you hold back on opinion on a topic just so that someone who thinks differently doesn’t stop liking you? Do you often think about how others see you? What is your reaction to rejection?

You can learn to react in a completely different way to disapproval. Begin by addressing to someone who is holding that approval and say (even if only in your head): your lack of acceptance does not change what I think and feel – even if you don’t something in me I’m still ok.

You can also keep a diary and record all situations related to this problem. Practice ignoring disapproval. This will help you ensure that even a lack of recognition will not upset you. 

And always remember: what others think has no bearing on your worth.

*W.Dyer, ‘Your erroneous zones’ (1976)

What years of dealing with anxiety taught me about self-love

Most families seem normal, but if we look closely, we will notice that they are indeed dysfunctional. Sometimes we are growing up in households where the pattern of anxiety and depression have been passed down from generation to generation. No wonder that we did not develop a healthy approach to life as a younger person. 

Don’t get me wrong – I have no desire to blame anyone for my mental state. Just need to outline the point that since I remember ‘loving myself’ was something unimaginable. Encouraging humility, modesty and putting the needs of others in the first place prevented me from developing the feeling that should be the most important thing for everyone – love for oneself. 

Our parents love us, but they don’t know how to teach us loving ourselves merely because they don’t know how to love themselves.

As a teenager, I put on a mask that didn’t show how vulnerable I was. The very thought of someone seeing that I was weak, fragile, scared and feeling unworthy scared me. Hence I played the role of someone who doesn’t care about anything. Sinking into neurosis accompanied by overuse alcohol and drugs made all the fears that consumed me from the inside grew. Because sometimes you think you’re killing fear with drugs, but you’re just feeding it. 

And then you enter adult life equipped with luggage filled with guilt, low self-esteem, fear of other people, fear of the death, lack of a sense of purpose, traumas, lack of self-confidence, timidity, toxic perfectionism, inferiority complex, comparing to others, self-harm, insecurity. It’s a lot to take for one person. Sometimes it seems unmanageable to find warm feelings towards ourselves among all these harmful emotions. But nothing is impossible.

Learning to love yourself is not about standing in front of a mirror and repeating ‘I love you’. It’s not about forcing yourself to take actions that you think you should do but don’t feel at all. In my experience, the smallest steps we take every day are the most important. Because self-love, among other things, it’s a mixture of everyday habits and small things you can do that make you feel worthy. 

Self-love is:

  • saying ‘no’ if you think ‘no’ and saying ‘yes’ if you think ‘yes’
  • limiting contacts with people who are bad for your well-being
  • removing someone from your life
  • knowing that it’s ok not being productive all the times
  • resting when you are tired
  • investing in your development
  • surrounding yourself with things that make you happy
  • not spending time on things and people that are not worth it
  • not meeting people if you don’t feel like it
  • pleasing yourself
  • make yourself feeling comfortable
  • applying for a better job and more money
  • taking care of your body – nourishing it with healthy food and keeping it in good condition
  • doing things you love to do
  • taking alone time when you need it
  • getting enough sleep every day
  • realizing that you don’t have to be nice to everyone
  • and that you don’t have to please everyone
  • knowing that it’s ok to make mistakes
  • reaching out for help and support
  • leaving an unsatisfactory relationship
  • not blaming yourself for your past
  • not explaining yourself to anyone
  • spending money on the things you desire
  • feeling good about receiving compliments
  • standing for yourself
  • nurturing dreams, even the craziest ones
  • admitting difficult emotions
  • expressing your own opinion
  • not living to people’s expectations
  • setting boundaries and sticking to them 
  • accepting not being perfect
  • be proud of your achievements

What would you add to this list?