It’s natural to want to belong, fit in, be included, or approved. I’m sure some expert somewhere would say that it is inherent within our basic survival instincts because anyone ostracized would not survive in the wilderness very long. Some of us can take it a little too far though. We mistakenly set our worth and value on what other people think. Our insecurities can make us think that we need to play up to people, try to win their favor, try to meet their every expectation. The only thing this results in is us being controlled/manipulated and turn us into something that we’re not. If someone’s approval is only based on you meeting their needs and demands and making them happy, then these are manipulators/controllers.
Here are some things that helped me to stop living for approval:
- Know You Deserve To Be Happy: This is the first step that you must factor YOU in the equation. No matter what “they” tell you, YOUR happiness truly does matter! If someone does not factor your happiness into the equation, then these people are not really “for” you nor have your best interest at heart. Mature people say, “Even if I don’t understand you or even if you don’t do things my way, I will still support you and I want to see you succeed.”
- Learn To Say “No”: As the saying goes “No, is a complete sentence. It does not require justification or explanation.” It is very possible to be polite and respectful and say the word “No” and “I disagree” without a long drawn out explanation. It is not selfish to say “No I’m sorry I cannot do that for you.” You have every right to your own likes, needs, wants, desires, and actions. If someone cannot accept your “no” then that is someone who is more interested in controlling you than being on your side.
- Keep Boundaries: Just like having a house, you have every right to who is permitted to come on to your property. If people started walking all over your lawn and trampling your flowers, you would let loose the family dog to chase them away and then put up a tall fence, right? In a similar fashion, if people are figuratively walking all over you like you don’t exist, you need to stop them and say “Hey, you can’t don’t that!” and then be consistent with your boundaries. If someone ignores your boundaries, this really is not someone that respects you nor thinks much of you. Why be around someone like that?
- Accept Some Will Never Approve You: Yes, it happens. There are some people that no matter WHAT you do, they are just not going to like you nor approve you. You could bring them gifts, give them money, call them every day and still you hear that they are talking bad about you behind your back. You could win the Nobel Peace Prize, win an Olympic Gold Medal, get a PHD in Rocket Science, and they still won’t admire you. These are people that are not worth your time nor attention. You would be better to focus your efforts on those people who do recognize you, see you, admire you, and are reciprocal.
- Take Responsibility For Your Part: Know when you are being controlled and manipulated into making someone else happy. Take steps to make sure you have the right people in your life and have the courage to remove the wrong people. You do not have to accept any behavior you don’t like. You don’t have to be nasty or miserable back to them. Just slowly increase your distance both physically and emotionally until you disappear (or they do).
I know some of you may say to yourself, “But if I follow these steps I will be lonely and have no one!” Well, you may be lonely for a time, but eventually you will start to recognize the right people – people who are really for you will not want to control or manipulate you. Aren’t those people worth waiting for?