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What Drives Our Need For Approval?

What Drives Our Need For Approval?When relationships get messy individuals part ways, some struggle with letting go. Why does this happen? In metaphorical terms, who really enjoys being shut out of a locked house? We seem to have an inner longing to open the closed door.

I’ve been down this road before; it’s certainly difficult to no longer have that relationship in your life, and it’s hard to come to terms with the acceptance of what is no longer controllable.

Since I endorse positive thinking, of course I will rationalize that the door is closed for a reason in every which way.

However, these complicated situations got me thinking about the thought process behind the hurt. Why does it matter to us so much?

It may be our need for approval that lies at the heart of it all.

“There are certain core needs shared by every person on the planet,” stated the article “Who Needs Approval?” on “Some of the needs are physical such as food, water and air. We also have emotional needs. Once our physical needs are met, filling our core emotional needs becomes our number one priority in life. Whether we choose to acknowledge it or not, the desire for validation is one of the strongest motivating forces known to man.”

The article explains that everyone has the inherent desire to feel safe and secure, and human behavior revolves around the need to garner that sense of physical and emotional security. “On a deep emotional level, feeling approved of makes us feel secure with ourself as a person. There is a huge degree of inner peace and security connected to feeling good about who we are.”

According to “Understanding the Psychology of Guilt” on, most children were taught from a young age to seek approval from their parents for the things they said or did. Since the need for approval, love and acceptance from our parents is strong, we become conditioned over time to seek approval from others as well. Whenever we don’t receive approval from someone who is not our parent, there is an automatic trigger and desire to win it back (which could explain the yearning to open that closed door).

When we aren’t met with approval, we no longer feel safe and protected. “When we meet ridicule or rejection, it can undermine our view of ourselves,” stated the previously-referenced article on “If we internalize this kind of negative feedback, we can begin to doubt our personal worth. This threatens our sense of security and disrupts our inner harmony.”

To end on a more uplifting note, “Who Needs Approval” discusses what it means to hone in on self-validation. “When you act or speak in a way that makes you feel good about yourself, stop and acknowledge it. When you work hard on a project or goal, find a way to reward yourself. It is not egotistical to give yourself acknowledgment.”

Though in reality we are affected by our external environment, we can try not to embody rejection as a reflection of who we are; it’s important to maintain self-love and compassion, regardless of what occurs outside of ourselves.

What Drives Our Need For Approval?

Lauren Suval

Lauren Suval studied print journalism and psychology at Hofstra University, and she is a writer based in New York. Her work has been featured on Thought Catalog, Catapult Community, and other online publications. Lauren's e-book “Coping With Life’s Clutter” and her collection of personal essays, “The Art Of Nostalgia,” can both be found on Amazon. Lauren's latest E-Book, "Never Far Behind," a collection of poetry, is available on Smashwords, Apple Books, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo. She loves to be followed on social media, including her Facebook Writing Page,

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APA Reference
Suval, L. (2018). What Drives Our Need For Approval?. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 29, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 20 Sep 2012)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.