Let Go of the Need for Approval

Authored by Pin Ng

Edited by Alexander Bentley

Reviewed by Dr Ruth Arenas

Key Steps to Stop Needing the Approval of Others

  • Challenge your beliefs

  • Commit to yourself

  • Focus on self-acceptance

  • Therapy and counseling can help you let go

  • Learn to love and self-love

  • Make choices based on your interests

  • Remember that occasional disagreements happen

Why Some People Seek Approval


As humans, it is within our nature to want to be liked. After all, we are inherently social creatures, and making others pleased can make us feel happy, and teaches us as children how to find our way in social settings. However, what do we do when our need for approval follows us into adulthood and begins to take over our sense of self? What do we do to face it, and most importantly, how do we let go?


What in childhood is ultimately a learning tool, if retained until adulthood becomes a method of avoiding conflict within your life. Seeking approval as an adult means that you are putting somebody else’s needs, wants, and views above your own. It suggests that you need help or permission from others to live your life and that you lack the essentials within yourself to be able to do so.


Approval Seeking Behavior Explained


While initially it can make us feel good and liked by others, in the long term a constant need for approval can lead to feeling depressed, unworthy, and even a feeling of incompleteness. If you are constantly seeking the need for approval, you can lose awareness of what makes you happy as your focus shifts to making everyone else happy, doing what is right for others rather than what is right for you.


Often, this is partly because we have at some point in childhood confused love with approval and have learned to associate approval from authority figures such as parents as a way of showing love11.V. Kumari, Emotional abuse and neglect: time to focus on prevention and mental health consequences – PMC, PubMed Central (PMC).; Retrieved October 8, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7589986/. This then becomes ingrained, so that even if as adults we recognize intellectually that love and approval are different, it can be difficult to separate them emotionally.


However, we can’t ever know for certain what will make someone approve or not approve of us, so the attempt is often not worthwhile. We might as well just do what makes us feel happy and fulfilled through being true to ourselves, as people might not approve of us even if we try to please them.


By doing what we want to, we please ourselves and guarantee somebody’s happiness is within our control. Avoiding confrontation, which is part of a need for approval, often means we hide our true values, limiting our personalities and what we have to offer the world.


However, letting go of the need for approval is typically easier said than done, especially when it has become ingrained in how you approach life.

How to Let Go of the Need for Approval


We need to give the approval that we so desperately seek from others to ourselves. For you to recover from people-pleasing tendencies, there are several steps that you need to go through.


All of the steps center around your ability to make choices for yourself and challenge your beliefs and previous people-pleasing actions.


The key steps that you need to work on to be able to let go are to:


  • Challenge your beliefs

To change, you must first challenge the beliefs and behaviors that you already have ingrained. This is not easy, as you will be coming up against behaviors you have been doing for many years which may mean confronting some uncomfortable fears. You must ask yourself what you want to do, if you are acting to please others and how you truly want your life to look.


  • Commit to yourself

Part of needing approval means you hold part of yourself back to make yourself more appealing to others. If you truly want to let go of your need for approval you need to commit to yourself and not be afraid of making mistakes. Criticism is a part of life, especially for those who commit to being their true selves, as not everybody will like who that true self is.


  • Focus on self-acceptance

In committing to your true self, and knowing that not everyone will like that, you need to focus on accepting yourself, rather than on other people accepting you. You are worth more than what other people think of you. You have intrinsic worth as you are, and that is what you should center your new life perspective around.


  • Therapy and counseling can help you let go

Therapists and Counselors develop an understanding of a person in the context of their life experiences. There are many therapeutic approaches and they all help clients let go of the past in different ways. Some approaches might revisit early childhood and help someone heal from past traumas that interfere with their life and relationships in the present. Many people find online therapy to be very beneficial because they can rely on having support available when it’s needed rather than having to wait a week to discuss it face to face. This ongoing support can lead to much faster resolutions of the condition. To find low cost online help with 20% off press here


  • Learn to love and self-love

As self-acceptance can be difficult to learn in adulthood, so can self-love. As we always live with ourselves, we must learn to love ourselves once we have accepted ourselves. It is important to love others, as well as to love yourself because you cannot control who loves you or who does not. Instead of focusing your energy on winning love, focus on giving love.


  • Make choices based on your interests

You are unique. As a result, your interests, passions, and driving forces will not always align with those of others. Follow your values – acting in a way that doesn’t align with your beliefs and values is a sign you are trying to gain someone else’s approval.


  • Remember that occasional disagreements happen

Disagreement is never nice and often makes us feel uncomfortable. However, as criticism is a part of life, so are other types of disagreement. Disagreement is okay and even healthy – constant agreement is a sign of needing approval, and if we all agreed all the time, we would not have unique qualities or skills. Know that not everyone will share your opinions and be confident in voicing your own.

The Importance of Learning to Let Go


The need for approval is a useful childhood tool that can be confused with being loved if this need is maintained as we grow up. Letting go of a constant need for approval is vital if we are to grow into confident and self-assured individuals.


There are methods that we can use to help us let go of people-pleasing tendencies and understanding how to stop needing others approval in the steps discussed. Through questioning what we want as individuals and having the confidence to give ourselves approval so we can move confidently through the world without being hurt by differing opinions or approaches to life.


Previous: Fitness in Addiction Recovery

Next: How to Stop Ruminating

  • 1
    1.V. Kumari, Emotional abuse and neglect: time to focus on prevention and mental health consequences – PMC, PubMed Central (PMC).; Retrieved October 8, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7589986/
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