It was the year 2012, and I wrote an editorial-based article for Psych Central titled, “What Drives Our Need For Approval?” Since my experiences typically inspired my ideas for the World of Psychology Blog, I can only deduce that, at the time, I must have been feeling pretty rejected from a relationship gone astray.
I researched the subject matter, exploring why we tend to have an underlying need for approval on a psychological level; why humans absolutely crave it. Our inherent desire for external validation — for feelings of emotional safety and security — does make sense. I referenced an article from advancedlifeskills.com regarding our drive for approval. “Whether we choose to acknowledge it or not, the desire for validation is one of the strongest motivating forces known to man.”
But lately, I’ve been reflecting on the concept of “approval” quite a bit and decided to revisit the topic, and bring closure to the piece I wrote four years ago.
Years ago, I met someone, let’s call him John, who I couldn’t seem to organically click with. He’d abrasively dole out criticisms. He’d pull me aside, inserting himself in my personal matters when he had zero business in doing so. He’d raise questions about my choices without garnering any understanding or empathy for said choices. He (inadvertently) ignited unnecessary drama. I would feel guilty. I would feel bad. It was as if I needed to apologize for being who I was.
Looking back, it’s hard not to note a concrete pattern of manipulation, and he had me pining for validation, left and right. Hook, line and sinker.
Unfortunately, John (and people who are extensions of John) tended to get under my skin. They’d make me lose sleep and cry, but more importantly, they’d make me want to chase something that was simply unattainable: their approval.
And you know what? Recently, I’ve been honing in on the notion that it’s okay to not have someone else’s approval. It’s okay if someone doesn’t like me, or understand me, or support me in an overall fashion.
That’s life. And part of life is coming into contact with all sorts of people; we’re certainly not bound to be in sync with everyone, that’s for sure.
Maybe this extra dose of clarity is now smacking me awake because I’m a little older (Hi 23-year-old Lauren from four years ago!) But maybe it’s just because I’ve finally reached my threshold with how I’d like to be treated and whose company I will (or won’t) embrace.
Either way, I’ve realized that while it’s beneficial to understand our need for approval, and while I did mention that self-love can never hurt (at 23, I was all about self-love thanks to TinyBuddha.com), truly grasping, in my heart of hearts, that I won’t always be met with such approval, and genuinely being content with that fact is kind of…well…liberating.