A small example, but significant.
Unless you had an unusual upbringing, you probably sought approval from the important adults in your life, too, including parents, grandparents, teachers, and coaches. It’s a universal need, and it serves an important purpose. You learn to abide by rules, “play nice” with others, and get along in school and society.
But there’s a downside to that dynamic as children grow into teens and then become adults. If you take the need for acceptance too far, you can sacrifice your own needs and rights. Lacking a strong sense of your own worth, you’ll look to others to validate that you’re worthy. You won’t have confidence in your own opinion of yourself or your actions, so you wait for others to express their approval.
Do you find yourself doing things, not because you want to but because you’re hoping your actions lead to acceptance, recognition or praise from others? Do you expend a lot of energy trying to ensure that everyone around you likes you and approves of what you’re doing? If this describes you, you may be a “people-pleaser.”
While the payoff may be getting the approval you seek, the good feeling you experience is temporary and never fully satisfying. That’s because you don’t fully accept yourself.
If you want to make the shift from dependence on others to reliance on your own opinion of yourself, here’s my encouragement:
- Before you agree to do something, ask yourself, “Why am I doing this?” This requires a willingness to get to the heart of your motivation. If it’s something you really want to do or it’s part of your job, then of course you’ll want to take it on. But if your honest answer is that your primary motivation is to get someone else’s approval, then reconsider.
- As one of my marketing mentors, Dan Kennedy recommends, learn to give yourself your own gold stars. Don’t wait for someone else to give them to you. Recognize when you’ve done something well, and give yourself credit for it. Don’t minimize or discount your actions.
"Other people's opinion of you does not have to become your reality." - Les Brown
“I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.” - Bill Cosby