Questions to Sophie: Looking for approval from others

Suzanne Kline

Q: I look for approval from others and want them to like me. When someone gets angry with me, I get upset. I think I seek too much approval from others and Iím not sure how to change.

A: It is healthy to be aware of the impact we have on others.

However, making decisions solely based on receiving approval is less than satisfying. It robs us of the richness in relationships. At any moment we are all subject to changing our mind, preferences and mood. Trying to gain approval is like aiming at a moving target. And then there is the dilemma of selecting whom to please when there are conflicting desires?

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You lose touch with who you are and what is important to you when you focus on trying to figure out what people want to hear. Your coworkers, friends, and family miss out on knowing the real you.

You may think you are trying to be nice and work hard to be accepted, but in the process you donít honor your own heart. That is anxiety producing, and leads to feeling devalued and angry. Not to mention, it doesnít work. As the saying goes, it truly is impossible to please everyone. Most people donít require you to agree with them on every point in order to like you. Question the relationships you have with those who are more interested in you pleasing and agreeing with them than in seeking and respecting your opinions.

Itís important to let go of the feeling of inadequacy that someone doesnít validate your perspective. You really can handle having a view different from others and yes, even if they dislike it. You are not annihilated because you are unique. You are made that way. That is the beauty about you.

Come to an agreement with yourself that you are valuable. Accept yourself. Engage the preciousness of your heartís desires and sound reasoning. Incorporate them in the process of evaluating what to say and do. Donít miss the mark on doing the right thing by relying solely on othersí emotions and wishes. Take into consideration your, and othersí preferences. Offer your well thought out and unique contribution. From the vast diversity of opinions and perspectives, the richest experiences are born. Donít leave your stone unturned.

You are more apt to be freed from worry and have enthusiasm for what is important to you while appreciating the individuality of others.

Readers: If you have suggestions for the questions, or an opinion on the responses, please email questionstosophie@gmail.com. Your submission may be printed in a following article.

Disclaimer: Responses to questions are not to be construed as receiving, and are not a substitute for, psychological services, or treatment.

Questions to Sophie is a new question and answer column addressing reflections on work, family, friendship and personal issues. Send your questions to the above email or mail them to The Hamburg Area Item office. Please submit by the editorial deadline.

The column is by Suzanne Kline a practicing psychologist born and raised in the Hamburg area.