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How to Stop Being a Slave for People’s Approval and Validate Yourself

Needing people's approval is a recipe for disappointment. We're all unique, so we might bother someone, but that's their problem. Not yours.
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The approval of others can boost your dopamine levels and make you feel great. However, this is how most addictions begin. Soon, you crave praise for everything you do.

photo of man who needs approval
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on

So, you’ll start doing things for the possible admiration that might follow. When the results are crickets chirping, you feel upset.

However, no matter how much approval you get from others, you’ll still feel empty because the only acceptance you need is from yourself.

Have you done these things for approval?

  • Changing your opinion to match those in your group
  • Needing “likes” from every social media post
  • Keeping quiet when you don’t like something
  • Excessively complimenting someone you want to like you
  • Constantly worrying about losing friends
  • Sharing a social media post that isn’t true but your friends would like it
  • Spreading rumors or gossip to get attention
  • Inability to say “No” when you’re already overwhelmed
  • Acting like you know the facts but you don’t

You can see how easily one can lose themselves in the quest for approval. It’ll make you anxious before you do anything. What will others think about this? What if I lose all my friends?

Approval isn’t always a bad thing, but the addiction to it can creep up on you before you realize it. Moreover, needing it will backfire on you, resulting in a loss of self-esteem and others’ respect.

So, let’s explore the ways you can free yourself from approval captivity.

1. Why do you want approval?

young asian female looking at reflection

 “Once we give up searching for approval, we often find it easier to earn respect.”

—  Gloria Steinem

You need to find out why you think it’s important to stop caring about approval. As with most issues, this one usually begins in childhood. Maybe someone criticized you for something, and you told yourself you can’t allow that to happen ever again. So, you change your behavior to match what other people like, even if you don’t really agree.

But you are more than worthy and acceptable as you are right now. Besides, you don’t need approval when you accept yourself. It’s not hokey; it’s truth.

2. Be aware when you feel the need for approval

need for approval
Photo by samer daboul on

“A man cannot be comfortable without his own approval.”

— Mark Twain

In order to stop a behavior, you need to be aware of when the urge arises. It could be when you’re on social media, hanging with certain people, or at work. So, be on the lookout for any yearnings for praise.

When that happens, say some of the following messages to yourself:

  • “I accept myself as I am, and I let go of the need for their approval.”
  • “My mistakes don’t define me or my future success.”
  • “I won’t allow others to mistreat or take advantage of me.”
  • “The right people and opportunities are naturally attracted to me.”
  • “I don’t have to change how I act or think to be loveable.”
  • My authentic self is confident and independent.”
  • “I approve of who I am, and I don’t need others to agree.”
  • “Regardless of what others think, I bravely stand up for what I think.”

3. Learn who you are

self approval girl sticking her tongue out
Photo by KoolShooters on

“Life is too short to waste it waiting for other people’s approval on how you live it.”

— Dr. Steve Maraboli

Take some time to learn who you are and what you want out of life. Journaling can really help with this. Ask yourself what you value. What qualities make a good person? Where do you want to go in life? What makes you unique? Discovering who you are will help you not to believe what negative people say about you. You know the truth and they don’t.

4. Refuse to act against your values

indian female with shopping bags leaving apartment
Photo by Liza Summer on

“If you’re conscientiously seeking approval, you’re not being true to yourself.”

—  Tomas Kalnoky

When you know yourself and what you believe and value, don’t allow yourself to act against them for someone’s approval. So, if you hate liars, then don’t share or like things that aren’t true. Don’t tolerate other people lying to you because you deserve the respect of the truth. When you live by your values, your confidence will soar.

5. Opinions aren’t permanent

happy girlfriends hugging each other on street
Photo by Tim Douglas on

“You should seek approval from yourself.”

—  Ichiro Suzuki

Even if someone doesn’t like how you do things, that doesn’t mean they always will. I’ve had some great friends that initially we didn’t get along well. However, over time we became inseparable. So, don’t think their opinions (or yours) are permanent. Just let things happen and don’t try to force anything.

6. Needing approval will make you invisible

pensive man in pink glasses
Photo by Erik Mclean on

“Needing approval is like saying – your view of me is more important than my own opinion of myself.”

— Wayne Dyer

It’s ironic but striving for approval makes you appear less worthy of attention. When you blend in with the crowd, you disappear. However, if you stand out with your unique ideas and don’t care what others think, you’re admired for your courage and confidence.

If you want approval, stop caring about it, and you’ll attract it.

People can tell if you’re addicted to pleasing others, and some will take advantage of you. They know you’ll do anything for a pat on the back, and they can treat you horribly, and you’ll keep returning for more. Don’t allow this anymore, and stand up for yourself. Just because they don’t see your brilliance doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Avoid them and shine.

7. Shift your focus from their approval to your projects

young lady typing on keyboard of laptop in living room
Photo by Vlada Karpovich on

Ruminating about what others think of you enforces your addiction to their approval. As a result, you’re telling yourself that what they think matters more than your thoughts. Try focusing on something that brings you joy, so you keep your thoughts positive.

Since it doesn’t matter what people think about you, shift your thoughts toward something productive and life-changing. Also, a project can really help with increasing your independence.

8. Opinions don’t determine who you are

stylish man in hoodie sitting and looking at camera against pink background
Photo by Klaus Nielsen on

Whether or not people accept you, it won’t make you less awesome. When you stop caring about what they think, you appear more confident and attractive. So, keep your head up and don’t worry about everyone else. You’ve got this!

 In the end, it’s about whether you approve of yourself, regardless of others’ opinions. Moreover, no amount of “likes” will fill this need.

So, make today the day you choose your opinion over others. Be you because you’re pretty awesome.

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How will you stop striving for others’ approval?

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  1. This was such a good post! I really needed to read this and remind myself of this. Too many great points to call out. All was necessary and has confirmed some things that I have been dealing with. Thanks for posting this 🙂

  2. I have ADD and have dealt with feelings of inadequacy and pleasing people syndrome all my life. Thankyou so much for this article, I will follow your advice.

    • I’m so happy it helped you! You’re not inadequate ADD is just a unique way of thinking, not worse. In fact, you have the super-power of “hyperfocus” that ordinary people don’t have. Check out my other post about ultra-smart and successful people. Coincidentally, most of them had ADHD/ADD! Pretty cool. Thanks for your comment!

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