Do you feel an overwhelming inner need to please others?
If you do, know that psychologists call it with varied descriptions. Approval Addiction. People-Pleasing. Need-to-be-Liked Syndrome. Whatever we call it, it refers to getting your self-value through the approval of others.
A patient, Rebecca, hated the job offered to her. But because it’s her father’s office and business, she said yes when she really wanted to say no. She quieted her inner voice of protest for she believed it would displease one who’s significant to her. She overextended her self.
As a result, Rebecca got too depressed and sick that led her to seek therapy. Her days were filled with boring routines, sadness, and moments of crying while on her desk. She eventually developed signs of insomnia and anxiety-panic. She felt helpless.
A first major step for Rebecca to cure her condition is to become totally aware of her behaviors. Her people-pleasing. Her approval seeking. Her avoiding confrontation – not “rock the boat.” Awareness of it includes understanding how it created her emotional wounds that she can’t heal if she doesn’t take a look at them.
“The need to feel ‘okay,’ liked, or approved-of is rooted in the messages a person received about their inherent worthiness and belonging while growing up,” says clinical psychologist Erika Martinez. “Somewhere along the way, people with contingent self-worth learned that their worth came from others’ approval, not from within themselves.”
To cure approval addiction, you learn to practice getting your self-worth from within yourself and not from what people say about you. That takes self-love. Self-compassion. Accepting who you are – flaws and all. It’s understanding that even if people dislike or disapprove of you, it’s not a reflection of your value as a human being.
How do you know you’re overcoming your need to please others? A sign is when you find yourself able to speak up when mistreated or wronged. It’s tolerating disapproval, criticism, or dismissal without hurting yourself in some way. It’s taking a stand, asserting your unique identity and gifts.