It seems that our brain is wired to seek approval of others. It is an ancestral backwardness, when our ancestors lived in caves and needed each other, if a person was expelled from the tribe, it would be very difficult to survive in such a hostile environment. Then we learned to seek acceptance of others.
Interestingly, a research conducted by the University College London and Aarhus University in Denmark, revealed that when some people receive social approval, is activated the part of the brain associated with reward. This means that, at least temporarily, receiving social approval makes us feel good. Obviously, being excessively obsessed with it can be totally counterproductive and leads to a roller coaster of emotions in which our mood and our self-esteem are completely dependent on others’ acceptance.
In fact, sometimes seeking approval can work against us causing more problems than it solves. The problem begins when we seek approval to validate our feelings and ideas, when we need others to feel safe and make important decisions in our lives, when our self-concept and self-esteem depend excessively on what others think of us.
How are people who don’t seek approval of others?
1. They know their happiness is in their hands. People who do not obsessively seek social approval are aware that their happiness depends on them alone. Therefore they take steps in that direction, taking responsability for their life.
2. They live more freely. By not depending that much on others’ opinions, these people feel much freer, free to make a mistake, to decide follow the path that really excites them. These people do not consider these imaginary barriers imposed by society.
3. They have more energy. Seeking constantly approval of others is an activity that consumes time and energy, so it can be very exhausting. People who have been freed from this weight have more energy to invest in their own projects and dreams.
4. They refuse to speculate. To meet others’ approval, you must perform a series of conjectures without knowing exactly what others think. As a result, we are often immersed in a world of unsubstantiated speculations that can lead to bad decisions or feel bad without reason. People who do not seek the approval pass over those speculations, they prefer concentrate on their needs and on facts that can be tested.
5. They understand diversity of perspectives. People who don’t seek social approval are aware that everyone sees the world differently. They know that the "others" are not a homogeneous mass, but different people with their own opinions and tastes. As such, they know that can not always coincide with them. And that frees them from social pressure.
6. They know they are not the center of the universe. The person seeking approval believes that all the eyes are on him/her. However, the fact is that everyone is too busy to convey a good image to pay much attention to others. People who don’t need approval are aware of this and feel freer and less judged.
7. They decide considering their needs. The self-secure person doesn’t ask what others think before deciding, doesn’t look for answers outside but looks inside, wondering what he/she needs, what he/she wants and what makes him/her happy. And this is a radical change of perspective.
8. They are less anxious. Social anxiety is one of the great problems of modern society. These people feel judged at every step, and that generates a high tension on them to the point they remain stuck in their homes. At the core of this problem is need for approval, therefore, get free from that obsession also involves taking a more relaxed attitude in social relations.
9. They have greater self-confidence. People who don’t base their decisions on others’ opinions, often feel more satisfied with themselves. The sense of sufficiency feeds security and confidence in their abilities.
10. They are more authentic. People who are not dependent on social approval aren’t afraid to show themselves as they are. That amazing feeling of freedom allows them to be more authentic with no need to hide opinions or feelings. It is a different way of relating, in which we connect with others from our essence, leaving aside social masks.
Campbell, D. K. et. Al. (2010) How the Opinion of Others Affects Our Valuation of Objects. Current Biology; 20(13): 1165–1170.
10 reasons to stop seeking approval of others
4/ 5Oleh Jennifer Delgado