Approval-Seeking Behaviors: Signs & Tips To Overcome The Need For Approval

Last Update on November 25, 2022 : Published on November 26, 2022

There are instances in our lives where we find ourselves struggling to decide on our own and then there are times when we feel upset when others don’t agree with our decisions. If you’ve ever experienced this, then you might’ve been engaging in approval-seeking behavior.

Our need for approval has been a part of our lives ever since we are born and then continues in every relationship we form hence. While it’s not wrong, seeking the approval of others on every step and for every decision we make might signal an emotional challenge.

When this need for approval begins to overpower your every waking decision, then it could become addictive. You struggle with making independent decisions and everything you do is overshadowed by the approval of others.

Let’s understand what approval-seeking behavior means, the signs and causes, and tips to help you overcome the need for approval.

What Does Approval-Seeking Mean?

Without realizing it, there are times when you might look to others for their “yes” to a decision you made. And whether you believe it or not, this need for approval can negatively affect your decision-making process. Not only do you avoid things that mean something to you, but you also feel anxious about stepping out of your comfort zone and worry about others’ expectations more.

Approval-seeking behaviors may cause you to overlook opportunities because you’re anxious to take a step on your own. It can make you give up even before you get started.

Here are some signs you’re engaging in approval-seeking behaviors:

  • It’s hard to make decisions without getting others’ opinions about them
  • You feel sad, happy, guilty, or anxious depending on the approval of others
  • You seek excessive reassurance from others about a decision you made
  • You don’t feel confident about the decision you make (or will make)
  • You reject new opportunities you want because you worry others will disapprove
  • You feel ashamed if others questions or challenge your actions or decisions

Why Do You Seek Approval From Others?

When you’re constantly seeking others’ approval, you’re silently asking them to accept you for your true self and your actions. This kind of approval-seeking can indicate that you haven’t yet accepted your true self or the actions you engage in.

Some common causes why you seek approval from others can include;

1. Low Self-Esteem

Sometimes, you may engage in approval-seeking behavior because you don’t realize your value and lack self-esteem. When your inner voice keeps telling you that you’re not worth it, then it could cause you to engage in approval-seeking behaviors. Low self-esteem can make you doubt yourself, making you turn to others for approval.

2. Traumatic Childhood Experiences

Our childhood experiences play a major role in our development and that includes approval-seeking behaviors as well. A traumatic childhood experience can make us constantly question our self-worth and self-esteem.

How a child is approved can contribute to their sense of value. Healthy approval (e.g. constructive feedback) can build their confidence but poor approval (e.g. destructive criticism) can make them seek external validation.

How To Overcome The Need For Approval?

Here are some tips to help you overcome the need for approval;

1. Develop Self-Awareness

The first thing you can do to overcome the need for approval is to learn to develop self-awareness. This way you can learn to spot approval-seeking behaviors and understand where they come from. You can ask yourself;

  • When do you often turn to others’ approval?
  • Do you seek the approval of others when making major life-changing decisions (e.g. finances, etc.)?
  • Do you seek the approval of others when it comes to your physical appearance?
  • Do you seek the approval of others when in school or the workplace?

2. Celebrate Your Achievements

Learn to celebrate your achievements, no matter how small they are. Even if you passed a test with average marks; celebrate it. Don’t feel that you need the approval of others to celebrate your achievements. This way will help you rely on yourself to congratulate instead of depending on others’ approval. Here, you can also try some self-compassionate activities.

3. Spend Some Time With Yourself

Developing a healthy relationship with yourself can also help you overcome the need for approval. Spend some time with yourself and allow yourself to get comfortable with the solitude. Don’t isolate yourself, just take some time for yourself. You can consider traveling solo, going on dates with yourself, taking up a hobby class (solo), or even spending time with yourself alone at home.

4. Use Positive Affirmations

Positive affirmations can work when you’re trying to overcome the need for approval. They can also help you remove the negative thinking you harbor for yourself. Instead of relying on others for affirmations, try self-affirmations.

Here are some you can try;

  • “I am worthy”
  • “I have value”
  • “I can make good decisions”
  • “I am loved and cared for”

5. Seek Professional Support

If you feel like your opinions matter less than others, then you can try to seek professional help and support from a therapist or a counselor. They can help you explore your challenges and address the low self-esteem issues you seem to be facing.

If you want to connect with a professional counselor, you can click the link below to reach out to one.

While there are many reasons why you might seek approval from others, they are not the only contributing factors. Outside influences and factors can also influence your decision-making process.

If you’re struggling with low self-worth or low self-esteem issues, then you can try the aforementioned strategies to overcome the need for approval, or you can connect with a professional to learn more about how to stop seeking others’ approval at every step of the way.

Don’t let your lack of self-awareness ruin your ability to make smart and healthy decisions. Take charge now!

I hope this helps! For more, you can write to us at or DM us on social media. You can also share your tips and tricks with us in the comments section below.

Take Care!

About The Author

Swarnakshi Sharma
Swarnakshi Sharma

Swarnakshi is a content writer at Calm sage, who believes in a healthier lifestyle for mind and body. A fighter and survivor of depression, she strives to reach and help spread awareness on ending the stigma surrounding mental health issues. A spiritual person at heart, she believes in destiny and the power of Self. She is an avid reader and writer and likes to spend her free time baking and learning about world cultures.

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