Approval: Why do we seek that?
Do you ever feel like you want to put up something on your social media or blog and when you look at the content, you feel as if it’s not good enough, like it’s not strong enough or maybe your opinion isn’t even right?
And so you try harder to validate what you want to put out, whether it’s by working more on it, doing more research regarding it, or asking someone what they think about it. Another option is simply doing nothing about it but never putting it out there.
Yes? Well, I can relate because for a long time, I’ve struggled (still struggled) with doing things, putting stuff out there, whether it’s my work, what I write, my opinions and even things I’m good at that might sound absurd.
I know why I feel that way and why I struggle with that (of which some days are better than the other). I’ve thought about this deeply and I’ve come to realize what exactly the problem is. The truth is, I simply want approval.
I want approval from people, I want people to like me, I want them to like what I say, to like my work. I want them to agree with my opinions and I also fear judgments or misinterpretation of my thoughts (i.e. my thoughts not being communicated well) and I also fear being criticized.
That’s why I would post a thought if someone says it’s cool and encourages me to share. It’s the reason I’d put my opinion out there if I could find at least one person to agree with it. It’s also what makes us write a post and delete it because not many people agree or what makes us want to be on the right side before we post something.
Few weeks ago, my friend and I were having a conversation around writer’s block and he mentioned something important I think would always stick with me. He said he didn’t believe in writer’s block and that it’s the perfection we are looking for in our head that makes us think we cannot write, so it’s not a block, we just want it to be good. I understood that because when I thought I had writer’s block, I always had something to write, only that I didn’t think it was good enough or worth sharing.
Back to all I’ve been saying before writer’s block, I know that there are people out there like me, people who can relate to this struggle and the truth is, it’s something we have to consciously stop.
There’s this friend of mine, whose boldness I admire when it comes to putting things out there. I don’t know if she ever struggles with the kind of content or things she put on her WhatsApp status but I doubt she does. She’d post random stuff, to interesting to personal to controversial stuff and to things people might not really care about and the truth is I wish I had the boldness to do so. I think it’s liberating; the ability to put yourself out there, naked and open.
If you’re anything like me, the truth is, we want to control what people think about us but we actually can’t. We fear judgments, we so want to be liked but we really can’t control that. Some people have gotten to the stage where being liked doesn’t bother them and so they live. Some on the other hand are yet to do so and it’s not as easy as it sounds. I believe it’s a gradual thing and a continuous working of the mind. Myself right now and 3 years ago are not the same, heck even last year. I genuinely see improvement; progress and even though I’m not there yet, I appreciate how far I’ve come not needing people I look up to and admire to validate everything I do and say. I gradually see how I am letting go of my insecurities and things that cripple me.
I’ve come to notice sometimes (not all the time), that even those that act like they don’t care about people liking them or what they put out or represent, low-key care. The difference between these people and you (or me) is that the people whose approval they like to get are quite different from yours. So even though they look like they really don’t care, the question is, are the people you think they should seek validation from the people that really matter to them? Does that make sense?
All I’m trying to say is, I might badly want the approval of group A but someone I think is past seeking approval might not really care about group A but group Z and so it seems like they don’t care about people liking them, when in fact they do. Joo get?
Now, because we want approval, we try so hard to belong. We want people to agree with our opinions, we say things we feel would get us noticed by people we admire and sometimes, we even suck up to them. All I’ve said seems like some kids’ stuff; things children and teenagers care about but the truth is, it happens with young adults, middle aged folks and the elderly.
Do you ever meet someone and feel intimidated and so subconsciously, you act in such a way that you want them to like you or relate with you? Basically, you subconsciously seek their approval. You might not even know you’re doing so until you eventually do. You might feel intimidated by this person not because they consciously intimidated you but because they are the kind of person you want to be, or they are so good at what they do, they look good or they speak so well or something and so your insecurities gradually creep in and you begin to feel small and don’t even know when you subconsciously seek their approval.
I don’t know if the above has happened to you, but it has happened to me severally. In fact, the most recent one was in January of this year. I caught myself in the middle of seeking their approval and I asked God to take this away from me; ‘God, help me to be myself and take away all these insecurities I’m feeling right now’ and God did at the moment.
So, I was getting at a point that we can change our behavior (whether positively or negatively) to please others. We are easily influenced by people, especially people we like and admire, (particularly people we like and admire).
It’s why we want to show people we like/admire, our best side. It’s why we like to let them know we are interested in what they are interested in. You ever wonder why you try to please your new friend or why you want that person you like so much to like you back and so you try to give them reasons to like you back or you try to do things they like or would like to see in someone they admire or like?
I remember one time, I really liked a guy and he once mentioned he liked girls that wore makeup and you can guess what Odinaka did. Yes, yes, I started wearing makeup, how foolish of me. And would you believe that I didn’t know I was doing that for him till I gradually realized and stopped? Well, I also stopped because I honestly couldn’t keep up (I normally don’t wear makeup, I find it stressful or maybe I’m just lazy). I know some of you have experienced something similar.
All I’ve been trying to say since the beginning of this post is that humans seek for approval, some more than others.
So now, You’re probably wondering where I’m going with all these, after all, what I’ve done so far is talk about how people seek approval and managed to talk about me *eye rolling*. Hold on, hold on, that’s not all I have to say.
Now, I could say stop seeking approval, stop looking for who to validate you and only focus on the only person that matters; God. All those are true and you should do that but I recognize that we are human and we are social beings and so somehow, consciously or subconsciously, whether we admit it or not, we want approval, we want people to like us, we love validation, we want people to tell us we are doing well, especially from people we love, like, admire and care about.
This is what I’d say, be honest with yourself and with God, I mean, there’s no need denying that you want people to like you. Also, ask God to help you and tell Him that the only approval that matters is His. Tell Him that you always want to be reminded of that and never forget because the truth is, we get so carried away that we forget. It’s a continuous reminder and renewing of the mind.
You also need to be aware. If you catch yourself hesitating to put something out, ask why you feel that way and if its fear of being judged, criticized or because you want to be liked, then maybe you should post it like that. Who are you sef (Chill, I’m also talking to myself)?
Finally, if you catch yourself sucking up to someone or changing for someone because you want them to like or notice you, try consciously to be yourself and ask the Holy spirit to help you with that, it works. Be yourself, be who God intends you to be.
I know that some people might not relate to this and I’m glad you can’t because it sucks but to those who can, I hope this encourages you. Only God matters, it’s only God’s approval that counts. Consciously remind yourself of that.
PS. This is for me also
If you got this far, you have tried because this is quite a long one. Thank you! What do you think about validation and approval?