Catch yourself craving approval? Get curious!


When’s the last time you craved approval?

I’m not referring to an official type of approval like from a bank for your mortgage or from a client for your project to move forward. I’m talking about someone else seeing you and giving you that ‘ya done good, kid’ pat on the back or that heart on your social media feed. It could be a harmless little yearning for acknowledgment. Your clients nod and smile at your ideas in that meeting. Your friends compliment you on the pair of killer boots you found on clearance at The Rack.

I recently noticed an uptick on how often I was hoping to get other people’s approval. It was subtle, but I noticed it. Let’s be bugged me. It showed up in both my personal and professional relationships. I even made a special trip to Trader Joe’s just to get that warm and fuzzy feeling buying a bag of nuts. I am a grown-ass business woman so why did I care what my Mom or Dad or friends thought about something I did?

As an entrepreneur, I’m constantly looking to improve and optimize. I seek out feedback that will support my business and my clients. Feedback, however, is different than approval.

Feedback (per Google) is information on reactions used as a basis for improvement.

Approval, on the other hand,  is the act of accepting something as satisfactory (thank you Merriam Webster).

Wait a minute….SATISFACTORY?  Does this mean I’m looking outside myself to see if I am merely adequate?!? I just threw up a little in my mouth. This is not a state of loving-kindness. I would not tell my friends they were satisfactory or adequate in a million years. I would acknowledge them, compliment them even, but never call them satisfactory.

Let’s take a closer look. What’s with this desire for approval? Why am I noticing it show up more lately? I have been taking more creative risks lately. It’s as if they are directly correlated. An increase in perceived risk = an increase in my need for approval.

What causes this? Whenever I’m experiencing a case of less than ideal mindset, I go to my list of usual suspects...fear of failure, perfectionism, and people pleasing.

When we look at a specific area of our life, we may find interesting reactions we hadn’t noticed before. An overall sense of confidence doesn’t mean we are confident in all areas of our lives equally. A promotion or new opportunity might put you out of your comfort zone (which is great, btw) That vulnerability can increase a need for approval.

So, what can we do about it?

Get curious.
Notice when that impulse comes up. Ask yourself: What approval am I seeking? It may be a legitimate need for feedback. If so, ask for that information specifically. What is working? What can use more attention? What am I missing?

Remember what matters.
What inspired you in the first place? Reconnect to that. Who needs approval when you can be inspired instead? Before you needed the approval, you wanted something more. You saw a gap to fill in your business, your community, your life. You didn’t care about approval then, you cared about getting it done.

Listen to your gut. Know that your effort and insight will generate the result. Give yourself permission to fail. Chances are you will. You’ll learn from it. You’ll move on (and so will everyone else). Trust yourself.

Next!!...Let it go. Move on to the next challenge. The world is waiting.