Approval seeking is one of the most insidious and debilitating blocks experienced by bright and gifted people. When you over-identify with any one aspect of character, you leave yourself open and vulnerable to becoming unbalanced and limited in your available responses to life circumstances. When you are young, it is easy to want and seek the approval of others. As you grow and develop, being overly concerned with what others think of you warps and distorts your self-confidence and self-concept. Your ensuing tunnel vision and spending all your energy on wanting to be accepted causes long term pain, inner turmoil and can lead to depression and other ways to deal with the inner void and pain. Self-realization is the long term goal of bright and talented people so living with the debilitating need for acceptance by others can cause great challenges. I will discuss how to break the approval seeking habit that is the root of so much unhappiness and discord.
Striving to be the best worker in your office could set you up to experience real and imagined stress and pressure to keep performing at a level that is unrealistic. Gradually, this behavior is reinforced and the way of feeling and acting as well as the attention can be addicting in many ways and this can lead to a loss of the self. Approval is an extremely powerful aphrodisiac when you are striving so hard that you are losing yourself and may not realize that you are vulnerable to increased suffering.
Continuous striving and constant work, acting much like a machine, leads you toward a feeling of emptiness and chronic dissatisfaction. You end up pushing harder and moving faster in an attempt to make up for your perceived failings or inadequacies. All this is an attempt to be good enough and to measure up. This is an accident waiting to happen and happen it does if allowed to continue. The crash is inevitable.
Your crash can come in a myriad of ways. You may even deny it is a crash or has anything to do with approval seeking. When you calm down and allow yourself to be internally honest, you will see the deep rooted and often seductive need for approval that has been going on as long as you remember. You may even defend seeking approval as a human need.
Bright and gifted people are often strong, stable and unshakable people with a determination that is undeniable. What you do not always see is the fragile nature of the inner world, the vulnerability of wanting to be accepted just like everyone else. Self-nourishment and self-care are vital for the bright and gifted person who wants to grow and achieve goals without adding unnecessary turbulence. Your exceptional stamina can appear as if you do not have needs much like others. This can be partially accurate yet you still have needs and often the words of appreciation are infrequent when excellence is the standard and is expected. You may even marginalize other’s attempts to show appreciation for your hard work. This sets you up to keep striving for increasingly unrealistic goals that also lead to an inner sense of emptiness. I have had clients ask “Is it all worth it?” to which I say: “If you are seeking approval from others, you will never be fulfilled and satisfied. If you are allowing your inner desires and vision to express fully without the need and striving for another’s’ approval, then yes it is worth it. Approval seeking kills your joy and your success.”
It is time to break the approval seeking habit. You must realize that your value and worth is independent of your accomplishments. It is vital to back away from the come here-go away tension that comes with approval seeking and striving to the point of detriment. It is time you allowed your talents to come forth.
Here are some tips to proceed with making changes.
• Learn to take the sting out of conflict or lack of approval.
• Resolve inner conflicts regarding your production and value. You are not your work; you are much more than your work.
• Develop incrementally increasing calm and inner peace.
• Deliberately focus on your vision and release obsession with accomplishments and gaining approval from others.
As you make inner changes and you develop an internal locus of control rather than being focused on others’ for approval, you will find more happiness and joy. Becoming proactive in redefining your success, you are now able to be productive and happy with inner approval. You realize that the collective success is much more powerful than the individual gain and you begin to make changes that are serving the greater good and you become fulfilled.
By releasing your need for approval from others, you regain your identity and the lost inner self can once again come forth. Breaking the approval seeking cycle for gifted and bright minds is challenging and can plague someone in subtle ways. Anytime you are focused outside of yourself ever so slightly, approval seeking is impacting your experience.
When you are proactive about your choices in your life, you are no longer lost and feeling empty. Now is the time to be free of the bondage of approval and live form your authentic heart’s desire.