Basing your happiness entirely on other people is unhealthy, but most people already know this. And despite knowing this, we still allow ourselves to rely entirely on other people to feel good. For some of us, we even get caught up on strangers opinions, despite logically knowing that they don’t matter.
It is normal for us to want praise and to seek it out, we are social by nature and thrive when we are given positive attention. You will never be able to eliminate a desire for praise and approval because it is natural and found in all of us. If your need for approval is causing problems then what you need to do is learn to manage it. There are ways to self-regulate, however this is not a substitute for therapy. If this problem is causing significant problems in your life, please see a professional
Tips to self-regulate:
1. Firstly, recognise where this dependency came from. Did it stem from childhood, working for parents praise? A toxic/abusive relationship where you relied on our partner for approval? Thinking about these things can be difficult and a therapist or counsellor can help you find the source if it is too difficult to alone. Even if you are not traumatised, there is likely a source of your insecurities in your past. Recognising the source will help you to rationalise your thoughts.
2. Wanting praise when we do something well is natural as we want rewarding. Reward yourself instead. If you do something well, get a good score on a test, help someone out, make someone smile – anything, then treat yourself. Buy yourself a nice outfit, eat your favourite food.
3. Take a break from social media. When I was struggling with a need for approval, I began to focus heavily on the number of people ‘liking’ my photos and following me. Eliminating this from my life allowed me to step back and realise how stupid it was how much I cared. Most of the people following me weren’t my friends and I had no reason to care so much about their opinions. Cara, from [this] forum writes: “This eliminated me comparing myself to everyone else and let me focus on self growth. This also cut out that instant praise we get when someone follows, likes, or whatever it may be.”
4. If you can, take a break from other people from time to time. Go out on your own to the cinema. Get a bus into town alone. Go for a long walk. Spending time alone helps you to break free from your need for approval.
5. Find ways to build your self-esteem. This won’t be easy. There is no one method that works for everyone. Look at yourself and recognise what you like about yourself. If this is difficult, try to at least come up with three things you like about yourself physically and three things you like about your personality. This is a start but it will not magically make you love yourself over night. Build self-esteem by promising to make a mental effort in changing your perceptions of yourself and finding things that work for you.