Reflections On Our Need For Approval

Written by on September 26, 2016 in Quotations, Self Awareness

Seeking Approval


Do you enjoy it when others acknowledge your hard work? I think most of us do, after all, isn’t the point of striving to achieve such things as awards, incentives, and bonuses ultimately about gaining approval and recognition for one’s efforts? In fact, feeling accepted is an important component of self-esteem.

So how is it then that the desire for approval has gained such a bad reputation?

When you get right down to it, appreciating acceptance and approval isn’t the problem, it’s when the need for it becomes so addictive that you begin to value the beliefs, opinions, and needs of others above your own.

The Nature of Approval Addiction

The need for approval is perverse because we don’t always realize the extent to which it affects us, but it can influence your entire decision-making process. When you struggle to take action without the approval of others, you risk sacrificing your own dreams and (for better or worse) directly affect the course of your life.

To understand what approval addiction looks like following are a few of the most common behaviors.

  • Changing your mind because you believe someone disapproves.
  • Paying insincere compliments to gain approval.
  • Feeling upset, worried, or insulted when someone disagrees with you.
  • Openly agreeing with someone when internally you really don’t.
  • Doing something you do not want to do rather than have to say ‘No’.
  • Asking permission when it is not required.
  • Repeatedly apologizing when it’s neither necessary nor warranted.
  • When you’d rather fake it than admit that there is something you do not know.
  • Exhibiting any behavior which is contrary to your core values in order to get the approval of someone else.


It’s amazing what a mere string of words can do to touch our hearts and give us just that extra bit of courage to look within and seek the truth.

  • The need for external approval is to have no resting place, no sanctuary. Like all judgment, approval encourages a constant striving. It makes us uncertain of who we are and of our true value. Approval cannot be trusted. It can be withdrawn at any time no matter what our track record has been. It is as nourishing of real growth as cotton candy. Yet many of us spend our entire lives pursuing it. ~Rachel Naomi Remen
  • Seeking the approval of others will never bring you happiness. You need no permission to be who you are. Be authentically you and you will always make a beautiful difference in the world. ~Anna Taylor
  • When you do not seek or need approval, you are at your most powerful. ~Caroline Myss
  • If you have been criticizing yourself for years and it hasn’t worked, why not try approving of yourself for a change and see what happens. ~Louise L. Hay
  • You will never gain anyone’s approval by begging for it. When you stand confident in your own worth, respect follows. ~Mandy Hale
  • As long as you look for someone else to validate who you are by seeking their approval, you are setting yourself up for disaster. You have to be whole and complete in yourself. No one can give you that. You have to know who you are, what others say is irrelevant. ~Nic Sheff
  • Seeking validation is the same as saying, “Tell me who I am! Tell me what I’m worth!” TELL YOURSELF! ~Author Unknown
  • Stop looking outside for scraps of pleasure or fulfillment, for validation, security, or love – you have a treasure within that is infinitely greater than anything the world can offer. ~Eckhart Tolle
  • You don’t need anyone’s approval or affection in order to be good enough. When someone rejects or abandons or judges you, it isn’t actually about you. It’s about them and their own insecurities, limitations, and needs, and you don’t have to internalize that. You are allowed to voice your thoughts and feelings. You are allowed to assert your needs and take up space. You are allowed to remove anyone from your life who makes you feel otherwise. ~Author Unknown
  • When you depend on people to build you up they’ll have the same power to break you down. You don’t need their validation to know your worth. ~Author Unknown
  • If you want to be great, then you will have to feel great and act great. Many people think they have to seek approval. All you have to do is approve of yourself. Anyone else’s approval is just a bonus. ~Author Unknown
  • Your approval of yourself is the only thing that should be able to make or break your day, your mood, your drive, your image and your life. How you see yourself will determine how far you will go and how much you get out of life. ~Kevin Tuazon
  • Approval addiction is a crime against yourself. The same people who applaud you today can just as easily crucify you tomorrow. So quit relying on people’s opinions and be who you are. ~Author Unknown.
  • It’s difficult to build genuine relationships, a full life, and healthy self-image if you’re always trying to please everybody. ~Author Unknown

Self-worth is about believing you are beautiful, even when you don’t feel it, and believing in your capabilities during triumphs as well as defeats. It’s feeling good about who you are, including all your quirky bits and pieces, regardless of what others might think.

It is nice to have the approval of others but to enjoy the kind of acceptance that builds you up instead of tearing you down is to take responsibility for being unapologetically you in all your glory!

Related reading:
Let today be the day you give up who you’ve been for who you can become.
About Marquita Herald

Marquita Herald

Marquita is an author, resilience coach and the chief evangelist at Emotionally Resilient Living. She’s also an unapologetic workaholic who loves red wine, rock n’ roll, road trips (and car dancing!), peanut butter cookies and (especially) a dog named Lucy.

She’s saddened and frustrated by excuses and cruelty and believes authentic compassion is the most powerful force in the world.

To learn more about Marquita and the mission of Emotionally Resilient Living  click here.

Thank you for sharing!

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  1. ikechi

    Hi Marquita

    I love this post and you are so right. In a way to seek for approval, we hurt our essence. Nothing really is wrong with seeking for praise but as you brilliantly shared, something is wrong when an addiction for approval leads to dismissing our opinion.

    Sadly, I see this behaviour everyday among friends and loved ones. Thank you for sharing this awesome post. Take Care
    ikechi recently posted…4 Crazy Things You don’t Know When You Waste Your LifeMy Profile

    • I am so pleased you found value in the post Ikechi, and I agree with your point about how widespread the need for approval is. General advice points to this being a self-esteem issue, but I believe it has more to do with lack of self-respect, something we don’t talk about often enough. Thanks for sharing and contributing to the conversation! 🙂

  2. Edward Thorpe

    Hi Marquita,

    Loved this post because your message is so powerful.

    My goal has long been to live my life so that whatever others say about me, be it good – or be it bad, means the same – Nothing!

    Uh, sometimes I actually achieve it…
    Edward Thorpe recently posted…Is Happiness A State Of Mind Or A State Of BeingMy Profile

  3. Dave

    This is a very salient message and includes a fine balance between appreciating feedback (both positive and negative) without becoming dependent upon it.

    I must say that I did indeed feel dependent upon recognition and approval at an earlier point in my “writing” life. And to be perfectly honest, those thoughts still try to creep back into my consciousness from time to time.

    It’s a continual process, in my opinion, becoming comfortable with approval, acceptance, or lack thereof ~ but ultimately, what is most important to me is the unique message and contribution that I know I can make and feel passionate about without being influenced by others.

    Great quotes and insights about this topic, Marty. Thanks for sharing, and best wishes for a wonderful weekend!
    Dave recently posted…The Good CurseMy Profile

    • I’m so glad you found value in the article Dave! I believe we all have particular areas or periods in our life where we seek some level of recognition or approval, but with experience and growth comes a greater level of confidence. Thanks for your kind words, and especially for sharing your insightful thoughts on this subject, always appreciated. 🙂

  4. Sushmita

    Great Quotes!
    Must read for those who dwell on approval from others. One must make a note approval and suggestions are different. I consider taking suggestions from who I know for some things I need to not more than that. Thanks for sharing.
    Sushmita recently posted…Social Media EvolutionMy Profile

  5. Lesly T. Federici

    Hi Marquita,
    I learned a long time ago seeking approval from others was not a healthy behavior, It did nothing for me except put me in situations I didn’t really care for. It takes a lot of courage to say “No”, stand up for yourself. But you only get stronger and appreciate yourself more when you do.

  6. William Rusho

    I agree with your statements, but for me it is the opposite. I force myself not to have any self-worth, or good self-esteem. This is because as a martial artist I forbade myself being stagnate. I have to drive myself into becoming better every day, and to do this, I cannot allow myself the pleasure of being confident. I make sure I know what I can accomplish is nothing, and everyone else can do it better, this forces me to drive and drive toward perfection. I know it sounds weird and self destroying, but it works for me.
    William Rusho recently posted…New York Renaissance Fair: Part DeuxMy Profile

    • You know what William, there was a time that I might have had a different reaction to your approach to life, but I’ve come to know you a bit over the past year and I see how you’ve found a way to fulfill your needs in a strong and productive way. It doesn’t matter if it would work for anyone else, it works for you and that’s what counts. Thanks for sharing with us, always appreciated!

  7. Lydia Brown

    Hello Marquita, at one point in my life this would have been a sore topic to discuss. Up to my early 20’s I was an approval seeker, people pleasure and it gave me so much frustration. I couldn’t please everyone and the people I sought approval from did not deserve my friendship or love. One day I just got tired of going to bed with resentments and started to let go. I still go through the emotions and it stings but I have learned to talk and walk through it. I think my breakthrough was when I realised that some of my characteristics will not go away I just needed to know what to do when I think a certain way or feel a certain way. Great article!
    Lydia Brown recently posted…How long does it take to psychologically recover from alcohol abuse?My Profile

    • I am so glad to hear that you recognized your approval seeking tendency and have been able to face it head on. It sounds like you’ve really come a long way and I’m sure sharing your experience will inspire others. Thank you!

  8. Marquita — I can relate to this post. When I was younger I constantly sought approval because I was so fearful of rejection. It took a lot of work for me to recognize my self-worth and not need validation from others. I’m at a very good place now. I think a long and happy marriage in which my late husband loved and revered me allowed me to become the person I am today. I was blessed.

    • I’m so happy for you Jeannette, and while I have no doubt you love and miss your late-husband every single day, how fortunate you were to have that love for as long as you did! Thanks for stopping by and sharing with us. 🙂

  9. Emi says:

    Hi Marquita,
    This is something I have done in the past and to be honest with you it’s not the best place to be. It’s the time that you stop seeking approval and see that you are enough and you are not depended on anyone but your believes, it’s that time that you feel free and YOU!
    Thank you for the beautiful article and lovely quotes!

    • Take heart Emi, we’ve ALL done it, and it’s important to understand that there is nothing wrong about feeling good when your work is recognized. It’s only when we need that approval to function that it becomes a problem. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, always appreciated. 🙂

  10. Chery Schmidt

    Hello Marty! What a great post once again my friend! I just loved all the quotes that you shared.

    Of course it feels good when someone recognizes our accomplishments but yes this is not something we should live for HUH?

    Great Share.
    Thank You
    Chery :))

  11. Donna Merrill

    Hi Marquita,

    I think at one time or another we all have gone through seeking for approval. I can remember it well during my younger years. But once we become adults, and realize that this behavior is getting us nowhere but not feeling well about ourselves, it is time to make a change.

    I do think that Louise Hay says it all the the quote above – If you have been criticizing yourself for years and it hasn’t worked, why not try approving of yourself for a change and see what happens.

    Thanks so much for this amazing article.

    Donna Merrill recently posted…Why Most Bloggers Never Create Their Own ProductsMy Profile

    • So glad you found value in the post Donna! I think the challenge is (and I’ll bet you’ve seen this in your coaching as often I have) many people never make that connection and continue to rely on external resources to bolster their self-esteem. From the research I’ve read, there is no reason this can’t change, but it means becoming self-aware and accepting responsibility for one’s own life. Thanks for contributing to the conversation my friend!

  12. Erica says:

    It’s interesting because from the time we are toddlers, we are told we are being bad or being good. And it can be helpful when socializing children to have them want to seek approval. But worrying about being “good” becomes problematic as we become adults.And I think well-behaved kids might really struggle with this as adults.
    Erica recently posted…5 Ways to Get Healthy on a Tight BudgetMy Profile

  13. Paula OKeefe

    I learned a long time ago that our self worth is not measured by others. Mother Teresa said people will be nasty, rude, etc. SHe said love them anyway and she said ultimately it is not between you and them, but between you and God. And this never left my mind. unfortunately my husband is needly in the affirmation area. I want to affirm him, but not like he is a pavlonian dog. He seems addicted to praise. I praise sometime,but refuse to constantly praise or thank him for stuff that is just our daily responsibility.

    • Thanks for sharing Paula. As you’ve obviously learned, loving someone means taking the good and the bad, right along with the needy. 🙂 It sounds like you’ve set good boundaries, he may not actually be consciously aware of them, but that they serve to protect you in some way matters. 🙂

  14. Rosary says:

    What a great post, I have to admit that I have been guilty of some of those things you mentioned. I think in this day and age, seeking approval and getting approval feels like a validation that you’re doing something right; and for someone like me, who is still really clueless about life in general, an approval can feel like a step in the right direction. But I think you’re right, instead of seeking approval or validation from other people, we need to get it from ourselves first. Thanks for sharing!
    Rosary recently posted…personal pet peeveMy Profile

    • I’m so glad you enjoyed the article Rosary! It’s important to be patient with yourself when it comes to things like this because even in work environments it is common to “bounce” things off people to test ideas, and there is nothing wrong with that. The dividing line is when that approval becomes more than just feedback, but a necessity. There are some who literally cannot make decisions on their own, which may seem extreme but, sadly, is not as uncommon as you might think. Thanks for stopping by and contributing to the conversation!

  15. Jeri

    It drives me batty to meet people who are always like, “What do you think of this?” I always counter that with a, “You go first.” Approval is so deeply seeded within us from a young age and it can be hard to break the cycle, but self-approval needs to come first.
    Jeri recently posted…#BannedBooksWeek: Celebrating Diversity in Literature (Infographic)My Profile

    • So very true Jeri! There is a gap between our early years and adulthood where we undergo a shift that few are prepared for, and when someone is saddled with low self-esteem it can add to an already challenging transition. I like your approach. 🙂

  16. Great post topic Marquita! When I seek approval on decisions, it’s usually to get out of my head space and see what others are thinking. Acknowledgement of hard work or even faults can help shape a person’s character for the better.
    Tatia Sikharulidze recently posted…The Citizens’ ChoiceMy Profile

    • Good points Tatia. It might be helpful to keep in mind that, as I stated at the beginning, the article is not questioning the value of recognition and approval, it’s about when obtaining that approval becomes necessary in order for you to function. Thanks for sharing your thoughts – always appreciated!

  17. I really like this one: “If you have been criticizing yourself for years and it hasn’t worked, why not try approving of yourself for a change and see what happens. ~Louise L. Hay”
    What a great way to change your mindset and start fresh every day. Instead of looking in the mirror (figuratively and literally) and bemoaning some attribute, change it up and applaud yourself for some good thing.
    RoseMary Griffith recently posted…A Great tour of Lorenzo House in Cazenovia, NYMy Profile

  18. Ken Dowell

    I especially love this quote: “If you have been criticizing yourself for years and it hasn’t worked, why not try approving of yourself for a change and see what happens.”

  19. Hi Marquita, Wonderful article, and I really liked the image. Where do you get them from, they are always so different. – Am I trying to beg your approval? No lol I just think they are great images. I think this quote sums up the article well.
    If you want to be great, then you will have to feel great and act great. Many people think they have to seek approval. All you have to do is approve of yourself. Anyone else’s approval is just a bonus. ~Author Unknown

    • Glad you like the image as well as the article Kathryn! I get all my images from two sites – the one on this post came from Fotolia and the other site I use is Pixabay. Fotolia is paid stock and Pixabay is completely FREE – no strings attached. For obvious reasons, I try to use Pixabay as often as possible, especially for things that will be sold, although Fotolia’s commercial price is the most reasonable I’ve found so for the right image it’s well worth it. 🙂

  20. Ravi Chahar

    Hey Marquita,

    When we work hard and someone appreciates, it’s an awesome feeling. But when people get addicted to get approved then they would be in the worst situation.

    Changing their decisions just because someone disapproves is good. they need to build their own stand.

    It shouldn’t effect their decisions whether someone likes it or not.

    Approval of others isn’t needed if you’re confident about your work.
    Thanks for this article.

    Have a great day.
    Ravi Chahar recently posted…How To Add Comment Box In WordPress Theme With The Clean Code?My Profile

  21. Sabrina Quairoli

    Great quotes! Thank you for sharing this empowering message. It’s easy to have low self-worth especially when things are not going well. This is a great reminder.
    Sabrina Quairoli recently posted…How To Upcycle Planters Into A Desk Pencil HolderMy Profile

  22. Phoenicia

    You have touched on some great points. I was blessed from reading these wonderful quotes. How amazing they are!

    As you stated, we all enjoy receiving approval/recognition but we cannot live on this. We must know who we are and not wait for others to tell us.

    I used to be a secret approval seeker. I was discreet in not showing it to others but it was there inbredded in my heart. I internalised far too many of my issues.
    Phoenicia recently posted…Do you allow time to do absolutely nothing?My Profile

    • I’m so glad you enjoyed them Phoenicia. It’s been awhile since I published a quote article, but this subject just seemed right for it, and as you said the quotes are especially insightful. 🙂

  23. Mark

    Thanks for sharing another winner M!LOL!

    And I love your image for this post BTW!

    Another home run for sure! And I love all of your awesome quotes! They really do cut to the chase and support your blog posts theme!

    I couldn’t agree more, the constant seek of approval of others, is the stairwell on the way up, but the domino affect on the way down!LOL!

    So very well said, and another excellent read!Thanks so much for sharing it!I’m definitely gonna help get the word out about this one!
    Mark recently posted…Coaching: Three Potentially Profitable Reasons You Might Benefit From Some!My Profile

  24. Donna Janke

    Great post. In a recent visit with my sister, I met a number of her friends. There were a couple she described in particular as being very comfortable in their own skin. They knew who they were and liked themselves without the need for validation or to conform to someone else’s expectation. I think that is actually very rare. Many of us are too dependent on other people’s approval. I particularly like the Louise Hay quote.
    Donna Janke recently posted…Seattle’s Original NeighbourhoodMy Profile

    • Glad you liked the post Donna, and thanks for sharing your story. A friend of mine has a theory that we each harbor two personalities – the inner person and the outer person and only those that are particularly ‘comfortable in their own skin’ come close to both personalities being the same. For most of us, our internal Self hides behind a wall for protection from the outside world. I think that makes a lot of sense. 🙂

  25. Lori English

    I thought your post was wonderful and would like to connect. I am a social worker and love the way you wrote this post and included your self with peanut butter cookies.

    Thank You,

    Lori English

    • Welcome Lori! Thanks so much for stopping by, and especially for letting me know you enjoyed the article! Hope you’ll consider returning and browsing some of the collection. 🙂

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