Recently I have realized that whenever I feel stressed, overwhelmed, or pressured about something, those feelings can be relieved when I question myself, “What happened that created these feelings?” I like to refer to this “thing” that created those negative feelings as the “CONTENDING OPPONENT” in my internal battle that I’m experiencing. When I realize what the contending opponent is doing, I can then talk myself through it in a self-compassionate way (see here for more about self-compassion) and then be able to get through those stressful moments sooner.
The Contending Opponent for me is typically one of the following:
- Needing (not just wanting) outside approval.
- Comparing myself to others.
- The inner-critic telling me I’m not good enough, not capable, not a good _______ (fill in the blank).
- My perfectionist tendencies that I hold myself to without mercy.
This week, the contending opponent for me was reason number 1. Placing too much value in needing someone to approve of me and think highly of me. I’ve always had a dangerously deep need for outside approval and now that I recognize it, I realize how much stress it has created in my life. That extreme need for outside approval became powerful enough to undermine the approval I had of myself.
Of course we all have a natural desire to be liked and approved of. However, when that desire for approval reaches such an extreme level, it can start to diminish a person’s identity because that person is so focused on being what everyone else would approve of. For much of my life, I had been doing everything based on how other people would approve of it and based on what they would think of it. Since I had no control of what anyone else thought of me, this left me in an extremely stressful place when a person did not approve of me or think highly of me. I have decided that I am done with giving other people that much power in my life.
So what can be done if you’ve found yourself overly dependent on having outside approval like I have? The first step is to recognize it. This is the hardest part. Once you start recognizing it you can start telling yourself things like…
I have self-worth regardless of what that person thinks.
I approve of what I’m doing and so it doesn’t matter if anybody else does.
I am doing this thing for personal reasons, not for that person’s approval.
I am the one in charge of my life and I accept myself and what I’m doing.
These are my go-to statements that are personal to what I struggle with. You can come up with your own! I recommend writing them down and reading them frequently, especially when you start feeling the need for outside approval.
I made a video about my experience last week where my extreme need for having a person’s approval of me created stress and what I did about it…
If you would like to learn more about the need for approval read this article here from Psychology Today.
If you’re interested in my blog post about perfectionism, click here.
If you’re interested in my blog post about comparing yourself to others, click here.
If you’re interested in my blog post about the inner-critic, click here.
If you would like to be a part of my Motivational Support Group and receive an email once a week with psychology based tips such as this, click here!
Until next time,
Be Gleefully Me (as you not as me;-)