Excessive Need for Approval Anxiety

We all need approval but being excessive about it can come from feeling a sense of being flawed or unworthy. This can come from the mistaken belief that you are unacceptable. Accommodating yourself to meet others’ expectations but ignoring your own needs and feelings, having a difficult time setting boundaries or saying no, constantly needing validation from others and trying to generally please others are some examples. This can lead to frustration and resentment as well as anxiety and tension.

  • Develop a realistic view of Other People’s Expectations- Common attitudes of people who place emphasis on being liked are below:

“If someone isn’t friendly to me, it’s because I did something wrong.” People may not be able to be accepting to me because of their own problems, frustrations, fatigue etc

“Other’s criticism only serves to underscore the fact that I really am unworthy.” People may be projecting their own faults onto me as this is a common human tendency.

“I think I am a nice person. Shouldn’t everyone like me.” There will always be people who don’t like you. The process by which people are attracted to or repelled by others is often irrational.

“Other approval and acceptance of me is very important.” It’s not necessary to receive approval for a happy life, especially if I believe in and respect myself.

People may simply be upset with things that have nothing to do with you.

  • Deal with criticism objectively- Accepting criticism is a positive learning experience. Evaluate the source of criticism, do they know enough about you, your skills or the subject involved? Do they have a bias that would make it difficult for the to be objective? Are they speaking emotionally or rationally? Ask for details. Don’t accept a global judgment. “That was a lousy job.” Ask for specific issues or behaviors that fall short. Ask what actions you can take to improve your performance. Does the criticism have merit or validity? View it as important feedback if it does hold truth. It should be directed towards a behavior not you as a whole person. “The criticism concerns only a few of my action not my entire being.”
  • Recognize and let go of co-dependency- Reflect on if these reflect your beliefs

“If someone important to me expects me to do something then I should.”

“I should not be irritable or unpleasant.”

“I should keep people I love happy.”

“It’s usually my fault if someone I care about is upset.”

“My self-esteem comes from helping others.”

“I tend to overextend myself in taking care of others.”

Co-dependency is the tendency to put others needs ahead of your own. Your self-esteem depends on how well you take care of others or solve their problems. The consequences can lead to frustration, resentment and your own unmet needs. Take time to love yourself by giving yourself equal time for your needs, setting limits on what you will do and saying “no” when appropriate.

“I am learning to take better care of myself.”

“I recognize that my own needs are important.”

“It is okay to ask for what I want from others.”

“I don’t have to be perfect to be accepted and loved.”

“I am letting go of guilt when I can’t fulfill others expectations.”

“I am letting go of taking responsibility for other peoples problems.”

Referenced by: The Anxiety and Phobia workbook by Edmund Bourne


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