I Constantly Need Recognition: How Can I Stop Seeking The Approval Of Others?

Ever since I was a child, I’ve felt like I do things according to others. My choices and my behavior have long been dictated by the approval of others. As I’ve got older, I’ve learned to assert myself and detach myself from what others might think of my actions. Why do we constantly seek this validation, and how can we get rid of this need for recognition when it becomes toxic? Having been there myself, I’ll explain it all to you!

Why do we seek the approval of others?

Low self-esteem

Generally, this is a construction that takes place during childhood. Often victims of the good student syndrome, women are more affected by the need for approval. As children, we learn to put the will of others before our own. And over time, we conclude that complacency was the right thing to do. It’s mentally exhausting to always want to please others and to be perfect. The feeling of always having to check that others are okay and satisfied shouldn’t be one of our responsibilities!

Obviously, there are concrete causes for this behavior, here’s a non-exhaustive list:

  • low self-esteem,
  • insecurity,
  • parental rejection (or on the contrary, overprotection during childhood),
  • an inner emptiness,
  • the fear of being alone,
  • emotional dependence,
  • having suffered a trauma.

➜ Always thinking about what others are going to say or think can lead us to have deeper anxiety. Some people suffer so much that they become blemmophobic, i.e. the fear of what others think.

>>> Learn about the 5 symptoms of anxiety

The need to be loved

Psycho-practitioner Lysiane Panighini explains that being validated by others is being loved in some way. If the people around us recognize who we are through our actions, our thoughts or our work, we tell ourselves we have a certain value. It validates our existence! That’s why some people more than others have this need for recognition. The therapist explains that these are often perfectionist individuals, or even inflexible people who need the validation of others.

How do we stop seeking the approval of others?

It’s necessary to change our thought process little by little. Rather than seeking approval from the outside, you should try to find happiness by developing a stable and loving relationship with yourself. Feeling confident without the validation of someone else means first loving yourself and knowing your value. Here are the golden rules to stop seeking the approval of others:

Learn to love yourself

Imagine being your own best friend. When we’re with someone very important, we hate hearing negative things about ourselves. You should apply this to yourself, by telling yourself nice things as you would with a friend. Practicing self-compassion allows you to learn to love yourself little by little. Furthermore, you should keep in mind that it’s impossible to be loved by everyone. The main thing is to love yourself because you can’t please everyone.

Accept who you are

It can be difficult to accept all parts of yourself. But that’s where the real self-confidence work starts. You will have to look at the slightest details of your being to understand them better. It’s a real exercise in self-confrontation, which is why it’s interesting to do this with a therapist. The more we see the truths about ourselves, the less we’ll need the contributions of others.

Agree with your choices and accept them

It’s important to agree with your decisions so that you can truly love yourself. The slightest cognitive inconsistency can sabotage us. That’s why it’s important that all our choices reflect who we are. This will make it much easier to accept our decisions and their consequences. Little by little, you should try to express your opinion and your feelings to others. The more you do it, the more confident you’ll be in your thoughts.  

Be fully aware of yourself

Listening to your desires, your hunger, your fatigue, etc. means listening to yourself. There are techniques like mindfulness meditation to reconnect with your body and your emotions. Making the most of the present moment is a process that allows you to be fully aware of yourself. What’s more, meditation helps us to regulate the flow of thoughts. It will therefore help you to step back from the worries that you may have about what others think. Observe without being invaded is the key.

>>> Read about why we need recognition from our bosses


🥰 The most liberating thing we can tell ourselves is that we’re the only ones who know our true and authentic selves. It doesn’t matter what others think, judge or feel, or how they choose to see us. We know ourselves, and that’s all that counts.

“Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your inner voice.” Steve Jobs

Editor’s note: Don’t get lost on the way...

The need for recognition is a normal need, but it becomes a handicap when the approval of others takes precedence over self-esteem and when the person is no longer able to self-evaluate. They can then forget themselves in their quest for approval, denying their values or their ideas in order to fit in as closely as possible with the person they consider to be their reference.
➡ And when approval doesn’t come, it can lead to great sadness, even depression. It’s therefore important to seek help if you feel too dependent on the approval of others.

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