GUEST BLOG BY VALERIE DUBUC
“What other people think of me is none of my business.” ~ Wayne Dyer
Do you worry about what other people think of you? Do you often bend who you are to fit in? Are you afraid to voice your opinions until you hear where other people stand on an issue first? Do you crave security and fear failure or criticism?
If so, you may be an APPROVAL ADDICT.
Approval addiction is the intense desire to obtain approval or avoid rejection from other people.
It’s completely normal to want approval and to fit in; to belong. Human nature dictates it. We are meant to form tribes and to live and work together to achieve common goals of survival. It’s when we strive to constantly be someone we are not for the sake of being liked that it can become a problem.
Often, approval addicts are not even sure who they really are. The need to please takes precedence over their need to be themselves.
This addiction can manifest in a variety of ways and with different characteristics, here are a few:
The Perfectionist: Puts up a shield and hides feelings of inadequacy enough by overachieving, never failing, and staying one step ahead of judgment. Perfectionists strive to have the cleanest house, wear the best clothes, and keep their hair and makeup flawless.
The Altruist: Goes out of their way to please people by doing good deeds. This person always jumps in to solve problems, fix things, and volunteers to help out. While admirable traits, the motive for approval addicts is to be liked. The altruist tries to be everything to everyone.
The Chameleon: Changes who they are depending on the situation and circumstances. Their desire to fit in outweighs their confidence in themselves. They may have many different personas depending on the group they are with. Often, they are afraid to voice opinions and speak up until they know what the group wants to hear.
The Martyr: Sacrifices what they really want for the sake of others. Doesn’t express their own wishes, just goes along with the plan because they seek approval. May secretly resent that others don’t acknowledge their sacrifice.
I can say from my own experiences that as a former approval addict I did a little bit of all of these. One wrong look or comment could send me into a spiral of over-analyzing and self-judgement. I worried people would not like me for who I was. I believed I needed to impress others or be like them. I feared rejection.
Luckily, I learned a long time ago it is more painful to pretend out of fear than it is to be vulnerable and shine brightly as your authentic self. Most people are drawn to those who show vulnerability, take risks, and express their uniqueness over people who play safe and blend in.
“What’s the greater risk? Letting go of what people think – or letting go of how I feel, what I believe, and who I am?” ~ Brene Brown
Here’s the thing, not everyone is going to like you. It’s not possible. Variety, after all is the spice of life. How boring if we were all the same!
During my life coach training, I learned a valuable tool: the one-third rule of tribes. It means when you are being your authentic self, one-third of the people are going to understand and love you, one third are neutral, and one third are not going to like it.
As the saying goes, haters gonna hate. There is no point in bending yourself to please the one-third of people that don’t like you. Some people are afraid of your bright, shiny self… Don’t let them limit you.
The one-third of people who are neutral won’t care what you have to say. You can be yourself around these people and they may agree or disagree with you, but they won’t have strong feelings either way.
The best part is one-third of the people will love you, exactly how you are. They are your tribe. They are the people who get you, understand you and approve of the real you. Once you are your authentic self – the real you – these people will find you. You don’t need to strive for approval with this group, by being yourself you already have it.
Why waste time and energy trying to please the haters? It takes away from two-thirds of the population who are just fine with you, being you.
“Next time someone voices an opinion that contradicts your own, don’t play dumb. Voice your thoughts and see what happens. At worst, you’ll weaken a bond that wasn’t authentic. At best, you’ll find that you can disagree with someone and still be loved. This is the way to build genuine relationships instead of tentative, bartered alliances based on the currency of compliance.” ~ Martha Beck
You were put on this earth with your own uniqueness. Don’t hide who you are to try to be like others. The only approval that really matters is approval of yourself.
The world needs you, so drop the shield and come out and play!
About Valerie Dubuc
Valerie is a Certified Life Coach who uses her intuition and laser-focused listening skills to help women stuck in soul-sucking situations gain clarity on what it is they really want. By dissolving limiting beliefs and giving women the freedom to explore possibilities she helps them forge a path to create the life they crave. Learn more on Valerie’s website, Facebook and Twitter.