Sometimes we find ourselves looking to others for approval to confirm our self-worth. This is unfair to those around us, and to our own well-being. We need to be free from the trap of pleasing others.

My name is Rachael, and I’m addicted to the approval of others.

It has come to my attention that if I don’t receive praise, then it must mean that I am doing something wrong. Nobody is telling me anything negative, but I perceive silence as just that. I then begin to doubt myself. Now, please understand, this doesn’t mean that I should receive more praise. It means I shouldn’t need the approval of others in order to remain motivated. Somewhere along the way I have become an approval junkie.

This doubt creeps into several areas of my life. With parenting, I want to be told that I’m a good mom, and for others to recognize how well mannered my children are. With my health, I want others to find value in my knowledge and experience. With writing, I want to be told that my words were helpful. With my house, I want to know that my cleaning and cooking are appreciated and enjoyed.

Do you see it? Do you see the pattern? It’s all about me. It’s about my achievements, my talents, my sacrifices. I’m glorifying myself and expecting others to give me praise. The really pitiful part is when I go fishing for compliments. You know, the whole woe-is-me mentality. Telling others that I’m not good at something just so they will tell me that’s not true and I really am great. That’s so pathetic.

This also indicates to me that I find my identity in what I do, not who I am. There is nothing I can do, and nothing I cannot do, that will ever change who I am. And I am loved by God. He fought for me, and died for me. Whatever may happen, that truth remains.

There is nothing I can do, and nothing I cannot do, that will ever change who I am. Click To Tweet

No doubt that it feels good to be recognized, and to be given a sincere compliment. Realistically, however, I will never please everyone. And I’ll never please anyone all the time. I can’t expect to receive compliments for everything I do. I’m either going to be too honest, or too guarded. I’m either too permissive with my kids, or too restrictive. I’m either too healthy and intimidating, or I’m a slacker and need to do better. I want to feel justified in my thoughts and actions, so I look to others for affirmation.

Before I can stop looking to others for approval, I have to stop making myself the center of attention. When I focus on myself, everything else in life loses focus. My parenting suffers and I become short-tempered with my children. My health becomes too much pressure and turns into a chore. My writing becomes empty and pointless. My house begins to be a point of resentment because of the never ending supply of laundry and dishes.

Freedom from Pleasing Others

To achieve this…

First, I must repent. I have to apologize to my Savior. I have placed myself in the position that belongs to Him alone. After this I can change my focus, and redirect myself back to The Lord.

Secondly, I have to stop putting unrealistic expectations on those unknowing people in my life. I am looking to them to fill something in my life that is not their responsibility.

Only after this am I able to let go of the need for approval. I want to live this life seeking only the approval of my Lord. People die, family moves away, friendships fade, and marriages end. But God remains. Only the Lord is able to give me security.

For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. Galatians 1:10, ESV

Unfortunately this is not a one and done lesson in life. Several times a week (or day) I have to repent, and then re-position my focus on what my main focus is, which is to glorify God. I want to love Him and to be obedient to Him and to what He has called me to do. I want to be a woman who exudes love because that is what is within me. I don’t want to hold back that love because of fear that it will not be returned in the way I think it should be. I want to encourage others because that is what God has created me to do, not because I secretly crave it for myself.

My name is Rachael, and I am a recovering approval junkie.

Your turn…

How do you find validation from others?

Do you find self-worth in the things you do?

Lord, forgive us for placing ourselves as the main attraction. Forgive us for finding our value and worth in people, and things, and activities. Lord, thank you for continually pursuing us, and challenging us, bringing us into a closer relationship with you. Thank you for your goodness and patience. Amen.

Silvestri Matteo

About the author
Rachael Smith motivates women to break free from the lies they have believed and live a life of freedom, teaching that God's truth allows us to be who we are created to be. She has a passion for women, and a willingness to walk through the hard stuff with them.

This calling on her life led her to begin, and grow a nonprofit that works with young women who have aged out of foster care. Rachael believes we all have the ability to redeem the past and change the future.

Comments (17)

  1. This post felt like it was talking specifically about me. I struggle with the same thing. My top love language is Words of Affirmation and its so easy to let that get out of hand and start needing approval from everyone all of the time. Thank you so much for sharing!

    1. You know, I hadn’t thought about this being related to that love language, but it absolutely makes sense. It is definitely tricky to balance! Encouraging words are blessing, for sure, and it’s easy to let it become our motivator. Know that you are not alone in this!!

  2. Hiii Rachel– Im Kaitlin and I am also joining the Approval Addicts Anonymous Club! I struggle with the very same thing… I have for a long time! I love the steps you give to help walk FREE from needing the approval
    of others. Thank you so much for this post!

  3. Oh yes, this need for approval from others is so deeply rooted in us – well, in me, at least. When I notice these thoughts, I acknowledge them and bring them before God. He gives me power to reject them, so they won’t consume me and I can focus on His approval instead! Thank you for this reminder. I need these reminders often – over and over again.

    1. You make a good point, we need these reminders over, and over, and over, and then probably some more.

    1. I think you are right. We live so exposed now. It used to be that we only had to deal with the opinions of family and a few friends. Now, we are subject to all of social media.

  4. Wow, great post! This has been an ongoing struggle for me as well. I agree with the first comment, that when Words of Affirmation are the top love language it can become even more of a struggle. I need to remember the Bible is full of HIS Words of Affirmation!

  5. As one who’s native love language is “Words of Affirmation,” I, too, find myself in a constant battle to stop seeking the approval of man, while rightfully feeling loved when others speak to me in my language. I try to keep the verse, “So whatever you do, in word, or in deed, do it ALL to the glory of God” actively in my mind, but I fail far too often! Thanks for the solidarity in this post – letting us all know we’re not alone! It was really encouraging and helpful! And consider me in on that support group you’re starting. 😉

  6. The last paragraph is my FAVORITE, “… for placing ourselves as the main attraction.” It helps to recognize that is exactly what we are doing if we are always seeking approval and validation from others. I do have to work on this. Bless YOU in your journey, sister.

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