Retirement is what most working people dream about. Most folks want it to come as soon as possible. As a result, we buy books about how to retire early. We see financial planners to figure out how to make it happen quickly. Everyone wants to retire now. However, the dream of retirement is very different […]
One of the greatest causes of unhappiness is the addiction to approval. Needing other people to like us or think that we are wonderful is a recipe for misery. Why? Because the approval of others is something that is completely outside of our control.
You simply cannot control whether people like you. There is no correlation between how nice you are to people, and whether they will like you or approve of you. I know. That seems utterly irrational. But whether people approve of you has more to do with them than it does with you.
For instance, some people will approve of you solely based on whether you are meeting their needs. Admittedly, it is a selfish approach to human relationships. But that is how some people operate.
And there are many people who will not like you or approve of you because they have deep-seated, personal issues. For instance, if you are a female boss, some of your employees may not like you because they are uncomfortable with women in leadership positions. If you are a step-parent, your stepchildren may reject you (no matter how nice you are to them) because they have unresolved issues with their biological parents. If you are a minority, some people immediately may dislike you simply because they are struggling with their racist beliefs.
In addition, people may dislike you just because you have all the things that society values. For example, people may be uncomfortable around you if you are highly educated. They can resent you for being attractive or wealthy. You can irritate some people merely by being a nice, normal person, if they struggle with being nice and normal (there are people who do!).
So, your approval rating is not a good barometer of whether you are a decent human being. Whether people like you or don’t like you has little to do with who you are. It has more to do with who they are. The bottom line: Seeking the approval of others, whether they be your spouse, family members, friends or perfect strangers, is a massive waste of time.
Given that seeking the approval of others is pointless, how do we break this universal addiction? Below are some ways that you can free yourself from the “approval addiction.”
Set and Meet Your Own Standards: Trying to live up to the standards of others is a silly approach to life. Of course, as children, we need to try to meet the standards of our parents. They are the people who are guiding us to adulthood. If we set our own standards as kids, we would eat candy all day and never go to school.
But once we become adults, we need to set our own standards. We should be setting our own goals for our income, the quality of our relationships and even our weight. Those are not goals that others should be setting for us.
Similarly, we should set our own standard for our behavior. The world has an appalling low standard for behavior. It is OK in our society to be rude and even speak cruelly about others. Better to hold yourself to a higher standard than the rest of society. Try to be consistently reliable, kind and generous, regardless of what everyone else is doing.
If you try to meet the standards of the world, you’ll be on the wrong path. The world values things like big houses, beautiful bodies and arrogant confidence. None of that will get you on the path to being a good person. Better to set your own standards and work toward meeting them.
Learn to Ignore Unkind Comments: It is very hard to ignore the disapproving comments of other people. But if you are going to achieve happiness in life, you have to develop a thick skin with regard to the opinions of others.
Admittedly, there are some people who will make disapproving comments because they are concerned about you. For instance, a good parent will tell you if they think you are making a bad choice. That is a comment made out of love, which you should pay attention to.
But I’ve found that there are some people who make unkind comments because they get a perverse pleasure from undermining the confidence of others. Or they insult others because they themselves are profoundly insecure. Their hope is to appear to be superior by denigrating other people. The key to life is to quickly identify who those people are, and learn to ignore them (or just plain avoid them).
The easiest rule of thumb is this: Confident, accomplished people build others up. They encourage, they compliment, and they celebrate the successes of other people. Insecure people insult. They cruelly criticize. They complain that other people aren’t doing enough for them.
Choose to ignore the negative comments of insecure people. Feel sorry for them, and let them live alone in their world of misery.
Like Yourself: When you get up in the morning and look at yourself in the bathroom mirror, you should like who you see, imperfections and all. The only way to do that is to stop looking at yourself through the world’s eyes, and start look at yourself through God’s eyes. God made you. Don’t question His creation!
God made you with a certain appearance. He created you with certain physical and intellectual capabilities. He made you in a very specific way so that you could accomplish His plan for your life. You should like what He created. He doesn’t do anything by accident.
So, if other human beings tell you that you are too short, or that you aren’t good enough at math, does it matter? The opinions of others don’t matter. It is only God’s opinion that matters, and He likes the person that He created.
The next time you look in the mirror, don’t just try to like yourself. Love yourself! Love the beautiful person that God created. And walk out into the world knowing that He approves of you. He loves you. Your only job is to use that wonderful body and brain that He gave you to do great things in this world.
This week, consider giving up the approval addiction. It is a destructive habit that will never benefit you. Instead, choose to love yourself for the beautiful creation of God that you are.
(Photo Courtesy of Pexels)