Thursday, October 6, 2011

Why do I care about what others think?

By Christina Chartomatsidis
  • Do you constantly need the praise of others to feel good?
  • Would you feel crushed if someone criticised you about the way you look?
  • Are you sick of constantly conforming to what others expect - only to ignore what you truly want?
  • Do you spend hours thinking and stressing over what others think about you?
  • Do you fear people's opinion more than you fear God?
The need for approval

All people need approval – this is a very common need. The truth is that most people like to fit in and be appreciated for what they are – that’s what socialisation is all about and God created life that way. Yet when someone’s whole happiness is dependent upon being approved of others – that’s when things start to go wrong.

Why do I care about what others think?

Caring about what other people’s opinion excessively is called approval addiction. Approval addiction or the excessive need for approval usually comes from having an inferiority complex or an inner sense of being flawed or unworthy. The roots of this usually are formed during childhood.

The danger of approval addiction

When you have an excessive need for approval, you are very sensitive to the praise or criticism of other people. You will be encouraged by their praise or compliments, but you will become addicted to it to feel good about yourself and function well. As a result your happiness will be dependent on how you feel others see you.

If you are admired by your friends you will feel good and happy [at least in the short term.] If you are criticised at work, you probably will collapse in a heap. The opinions, whims and negative remarks of others are capable of crushing you immediately – and leave you feeling stressed for days. Even looks from others may cause psychological distress.

Approval addiction and relationships

People with a strong need for approval require constant reassurance in romantic relationships. As a result they become very clingy to their partners. If they are dumped or rejected they interpret it as proof that they are worthless. Unless they deal with their approval addiction, they will continue feeling worthless in all the relationships they make.

How can I get over approval addiction?

The key to getting over approval addiction is firstly to believe that you are a worthy human being. God created you and put bluntly, God doesn’t make junk. Know that you are not a flawed creation. If you’re on the earth then you’re here for a purpose.

Look to yourself and to God – not to others!

Your value and worth can only be determined by you and God. Start to give yourself the respect and admiration you deserve, instead of searching for it from others. Know that if you keep searching for external approval, your happiness will waver like a yo-yo. You will be miserable on the days others don’t give you approval and only happy on the days they do.

Know that God supports and approves of you and would continue to do so even if the whole world was to turn against you! He created you, finds worth in you and loves you.

Buffer yourself from criticism

When someone doesn’t like you or criticises you, ask yourself “Do I really need their approval in order to be happy?” If people criticise you or rejects you say “So what if they don’t approve of me, God approves of me. Others like me and I like myself. So what if I (made a stupid mistake) that doesn’t mean I’m worthless...It just means that I (made a stupid mistake.”)

Don’t be a beggar - you are a child of the Most High!

Lastly, know that you will never be able to please everyone or get everyone’s approval. No-one will. So learn to accept that. Understand that if you work on improving and approving of yourself then you won’t be in need of the approval of others. If you don’t, the danger is you will be living your life like a beggar, at the mercy of other’s approval. This is not a healthy or happy way to live.

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