How to quit approval-seeking and get on with shining in your business.

It’s really uncomfortable to be needy. Especially needing approval. Most of us cover it up because if people knew how much we needed approval… Well, they might not approve of us, right?

But it’s the covering up that makes it harder to access and heal. And that ultimately keeps you from shining, unselfconsciously, as your glorious self!

Let me give an example…

The other day, I was having lunch with a bunch of friends who are also colleagues. People I respect and admire. We were outdoors enjoying the sunshine and I mentioned how I was really excited about a recent insight I had about myself, which had implications for my business. I started to explain, in a bit of detail, exactly what had shifted for me.

I didn’t realize it, but even though I was trying to be casual about it, I was really seeking acknowledgement for this ‘big insight’ which was important to me.

Thing is, this was a casual lunchtime conversation. And, to be honest, the inner workings of my psyche were not top of the agenda for the people I was with. They kinda just nodded and moved on.

My earth-shaking news… fizzled.

Internally, I started to shrivel and berate myself – Why did I even bring this up anyway?

Maybe you’ve had a similar experience…

Where you’ve been truly excited about something… Finally ready to share it with the world! And you’ve told your great new idea about your business to a friend…or presented your ‘very cool’ concept to your client… or prepared to launch your awesome new product or service…

And the response is… Well, let’s call it ‘underwhelming’. Fizzle.


So, what is a self-respecting business owner s’posed to do with this kind of fizzle?

Well, for starters, I now know what not to do…

When my friends went quiet on my revelation, I mentioned that I “shrivelled” inside.

But when I reflect on it, I can see that my inner process was much more specific than that:

First, I felt awkward.

Second, I didn’t feel I had a right to be awkward (they were all enjoying a casual lunch… Who was I to make a big deal out of their nonresponse?)

Third, my mind had a field day trying to figure out what made it so awkward – either it was me – (“I knew I didn’t fit in here. My ideas suck. I have no social grace. There must be something wrong with me!”) – or it was them (“Those insensitive bastards! They obviously don’t appreciate my insights! How dare they ignore this important revelation?”)

Yuk! It’s like a chain reaction…

Seek approval – Feel horrible – Try to sweep horrible feelings under the carpet – Blame self or others or both.

Not very appealing is it?

Maybe you are lucky not to ever have this kind of issue come up for you. But if you do, or you know someone who does, then you can understand how awful it can be. So what to do about it?

How to reverse the ‘seeking approval’ reaction-chain.

The good news about this particular chain-reaction is that it’s reversible!

So, the first step is to QUIT THE BLAME GAME– or trying to work out whose fault it is that your idea didn’t fly. Ask yourself: If you couldn’t play the blame game (how could they not appreciate my brilliance?) and you couldn’t play the shame game (oh, I must be hopeless at this stuff anyway)… What would you have to feel?

In my case, it wasn’t anything really terrible. It was just discomfort. But you know the nature of discomfort is that it’s… well… uncomfortable! That was enough to make me want to hide it away. What about you? In a parallel situation, what’s the feeling that you would want to sweep away? And whatever that feeling is…

The next step is to FEEL WHAT YOU FEEL. That means to NOT sweep that feeling under the carpet. Instead, try being present with your version of discomfort, even if it’s just for a moment. What happens when you look at it with love and compassion?

In the end, it’s just a feeling. When you let yourself feel it for a minute, you are reminding yourself that it’s just a feeling, and you no longer have to run from it. Then it loses its power to define your thoughts and actions. And you get to think clearly about the next step.

The final step is to LISTEN TO YOUR HEART. What I mean is, it’s time to address the issue of wanting approval in the first place. Seeking approval is often just wanting to be seen and heard and witnessed for the beauty and brilliance that you are.

In the end, it’s up to you to judge the value of your contribution.

You offered your best in the moment. You always do. And the part of you that wants to approval and acknowledgement… well, it deserves some! The problem is, most people don’t have the capacity to really see the magnificence that you are, because they have their own stuff to deal with. Heck, most people have trouble acknowledging their own magnificence, let alone acknowledging yours.

In the end, the only person who can really give you the approval and acknowledgement that your heart is longing for is yourself.

And if you quit blaming, feel what you feel and listen to your heart, you’ll know exactly how to do that.


… Is this making sense to you? Can you relate to the annoying habit of compulsively seeking approval in business and life?

Perhaps you have your own strategies for reversing the approval-seeking chain once and for all?

Please leave a comment and share your insights…



4 Responses

  1. Trisha Cupra says:

    Hi Yollana,

    Something I heard recently but haven’t given much conscious thought to is about how part of us is like a little child (yeah, ‘inner child’ is such an overused term) and we should treat that child with as much compassion as you would your own child. It’s easy for me to encourage my daughter when she feels disappointed or dejected – it comes naturally. It’s much harder to treat myself in the same way. But this awareness will surely help.

  2. Hi Yollana,

    Thanks for your honesty, it is lovely. It’s amazing how much this issue of approval comes up. I sometimes think that’s pretty much all we’re all doing. We’re just always seeking approval or trying to prove ourselves as being worthy, smart, up to the task, as good as them or others. Politics, fashion, chit chat about day to day life, work, everywhere……It’s amazing.

    I feel that ultimately the most important aspect to all of this is to approve of oneself. Once we have that self-love going on then surely all else will fall into place.

    This post is posted with love and without expectation of reply or approval.


  3. yollana says:

    Hi Trisha and Fiona. Thanks for your affirming comments.

    Trisha… I couldn’t help but wonder if it’s possible that what you heard recently about how part of us is like a little child had something to do with Michael Doneman’s advice in the post on this very same blog last week?

    Hugs, Yollana

  4. Adam Clarke says:

    Approval seeking often interferes with a person’s ability to enjoy life.
    Adam Clarke recently posted..Are You A Victim Of Approval Addiction