The Approval Free Mindset
“Man is by nature a social animal”. ~ Aristotle.
Millions of years ago, when living through every day counted as a victory, people heavily relied on each other for survival. Communities would share food, resources and information with one another, and people worked together to keep each other safe. This means the need to seek and maintain interpersonal connections is a basic need of all humans for a long time.
Some social scientists suggest that the inner desire to remain safe and stay on people’s good side has manifested as the need to seek approval by the modern brain.
However, it is not necessary that what was significant to our paleolithic ancestors remains true for modern contexts. Yes, we surely should continue the good sharing and caring habits, but we must also learn to drop certain strategies that are no longer serving us.
What is Approval Seeking?
Seeking approval of others about our actions and our self-esteem is one of them. A person with an approval mind is constantly relies on others for their self-worth. Approval seekers feel insecure, unworthy, and lonely. Often, these feeling are projected as anger, frustration, blame and ego.
Approval free mindset does not mean that you go around hurting people with words or actions because you feel ‘free’. It is rather an intrinsic process that creates mutual respect and healthy boundaries.
Need of Approval Can Hinder Your Success:
The fact that others ‘may’ disapprove you can put you in a state of reluctance. You may start to procrastinate, feel anxious, overthink, get stuck in cogitation, and become fearful.
Sometimes, people who are constantly seeking approval find it hard to take a break and slow down. This may appear in terms of long working hours and unwillingness to say no to others. You may end up doing too much for others at the expense of yourself.
Your success, your achievements, your life should be a reflection of something you desire for yourself. If your success is a measure of how others want to see you, we need to talk.
Four strategies to apply:
Ideal place is to develop a strong sense self-acceptance and make choices that ‘you’ feel are right for you. Learning to not seek approval from others may take time, here are a few suggested strategies.
• Work towards self-confidence. A strong structure can only be built on a strong foundation. We start to depend on others if we don’t have focus on our own achievements and journey. How about you start writing a journal and create a list of your goals, blurbs of your choices and little notes about your feelings.
• Resist old habits of validation. We may find it easier to take ‘advice’ from others but when it comes to taking a decision, evaluate your thoughts, your likes, and your goals.
• Don’t be scared to fail. Sometimes, we create high standards in our mind and then seek approval of others to validate our actions. This may lead to two conclusions- firstly, we may work to a level of exhaustion and secondly, we may not even start the given project.
• Celebrate the small wins. Creating an approval free life is a process and it is easier for our brains to surrender to the past experiences and impressions. One must make it deliberate to celebrate small gains. Celebrating small victories not only keeps our mindset positive but also provides the confidence to move ahead with positive mindset.
In a nutshell, consulting each other for safety and survival is long built-in human brain however, it is not something that is necessary for every decision we make in today’s world. Asking for approval is deep rooted and can affect the mental wellness of an individual. One can develop a healthy mindset with the use of positive strategies that can counter the approval seeking patterns. Becoming aware of our thought patterns, behaviour issues and negative self-belief is a good starting point.