Wouldn’t it be great if Google really could provide the answer to everything? For example, ask Google ‘what is the answer to life, the Universe and everything’, and you will be given links to numerous articles and videos claiming to have the answer, to this, the most unanswerable of questions!
But what about the more seemingly personal questions - such as what is the purpose of the apparently universal trait of needing approval, the desire to belong, to fit in? There is no simple computer algorithm to answer something as fundamentally human as this.
Instead we need to take a more humanistic approach. As with so much of the work that forms the basis of personal growth, the answer lies within ourselves. So much of our sense of self-worth, whether in abundance or lacking, stems from a time when we had relatively little control over our lives – childhood. Whether our early years are remembered as a time of nurturing and positivity, or one of somewhat more negative influences, our experiences as a child mould our inner dialogue. You know, that little voice in your head that constantly chips in comments, that can either act as the agent of self-doubt, or provide a much-needed confidence boost.
The foundations of self esteem are laid during these crucial years. As such, if these building blocks were shaky, or non-existent even, you may find yourself as an adult making choices based on the search for acceptance, rather than what is the best actual decision in any given situation.
So many of us go on for years repeating self-destructive patterns of behaviour. We may constantly seek out the approval of our worth from our partner, as a replacement for the lack of this from a parent as a child. However, this never-ending need for reassurance often spells the death of a relationship. Neediness is not an attractive trait; and can be exhausting for your significant other, and your family and friends too.
This can also leave you vulnerable to finding yourself repeatedly drawn to controlling or narcissistic relationships. People with these tendencies seek out those that display characteristics that show them to be easily manipulated. It can lead teenagers to join gangs, adults to join in destructive behaviour (mob mentality), to being unwilling to speak up when you know you ought to help others or yourself in a work environment (bullying/discrimination).
So, how can you break out of this trap?
The first thing is recognising that there is an issue. Wanting approval is a normal desire. It helps form strong bonds, the motivation to do your best, to be part of a team. It harps back to our tribal ancestry. However, when this need reaches problematic levels, it will then have a detrimental effect on all these very things.
If you have endured significant childhood trauma, or feel particularly affected by self-esteem issues, it is advisable to seek professional advice from your GP. They may refer you to the local NHS mental health services to find the most suitable course of treatment. This can include counselling, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), psychotherapy, amongst many other possibilities.
In conjunction with this, or as a standalone treatment, there are many holistic approaches available to help tackle self-acceptance issues.
Consulting a Psychic for a reading; hypnotherapy; having a Tarot cards reading; getting your Astrological chart done; guided meditation – all these and the many other options offered through holistic healing, can help with finding the source of your low self-esteem. Then you can start on your journey to create the approval you seek from within, rather than always from external validation.
Once you stop needing to look outwards for confirmation of our worth, it usually follows that your daily joy and happiness increase. You are properly in charge of your choices and decisions, how you interpret the world around you and its reactions to you. Your mood and motivation are no longer being governed by the approval, or lack of, from those around you. A lack of self-belief often leads to anxiety disorders, poor sleep, bad decisions in all areas of life. All of these have the chance to improve once you start to accept yourself, your journey, your value of your desires and needs.
This doesn’t mean you disregard the opinions or advice of others, particularly from anyone you deem as important and whose insight you value. Being able to accept yourself and the place you now find yourself, is not a stagnant position. It is a place of growth, a continuation of your journey. Only now you are more able to listen to that voice in your head and know that if it says ‘hey, you’re not ok, you’re not good enough’, then you just press the mute button until you can trust that the dialogue has changed to a more positive and constructive vibe. Seeing yourself warts and all, you can choose to be kind to the child within that cries out to be seen, to be heard; that may, in the past, have led you to look in the wrong places for love and approval. Perhaps your soulmate has to exist within you before you can truly connect to anyone externally.
Finally, it’s time to take the hand of that inner child and tell them what you now believe – it’s ok, we got this.