5 Soul-Crushing Signs of Approval Issues

I’d love to have your approval.

When someone gives me a compliment, it’s like a wave I can ride for a week. However, when they tell me something negative, I have a hard time not taking it personally and it can really bring me down. Are you like that?

I’ve been told by certain books and online quizzes that my “love language” is to receive words of encouragement. It’s pretty true. I’ve noticed my own diabolical plans taking shape to fish for the approval of others before and if you’re like me, I bet you have too.

So how do you know if you have a problem? In myself and in others, I’ve noticed at least five soul-crushing signs of approval issues.

One Negative Comment Can Ruin Your Whole Day

First and foremost, the biggest flag you should be aware of is how other people’s comments affect you. Whether online, in person, internal, or just straight up imaginary, these negative comments take you to the dark place.

Sure, words can hurt and no one likes rejection, but if that’s all it takes to bring down your house of glass, be careful before you pick up a rock to throw at the offending troll. Time to take a look at yourself and ask, “Self, can I still do what God has called me to do without that person’s approval? Yes? Ok, great. Cancel the prayers for locusts in their home, then.”

Your Self-Depreciating Humor is Really Fishing for Approval

If you can’t laugh at yourself, it’s probably because you’re not funny. But laughing at yourself all the time can turn into a simple play for compliments.

“I just can’t do anything right.” Then your friend who loves you goes, “Oh, no don’t say that. You’re awesome at x, y, z…” Ego massaged. If you’re down on yourself a lot because you just want compliments, you may have approval issues…or really high standards for excellence…which is something else people with approval issues say to justify the compliment baiting.

You are Ruled by the Latest Problem

If you can’t finish a problem before jumping to another problem, then you’ve got problems. It could mean that you’re such a people-pleaser, that whoever is in your face at the moment is who you’re working for.

Those with approval issues want everyone to like them, so they always say yes and drop whatever they are doing to help the next person in line, meanwhile letting the previous person they were helping down. This person never sleeps and often feels like a failure, but justifies this behavior by painting a mental picture of themselves with some kind of cape.

Look how many people need me! I am glad to be so needed and useful! They also like to tell you what they did today in a huge list that usually has them counting them off one by one on their fingers. They love to run out of fingers.

But really, all they are doing is wearing themselves out and rendering most of their work mediocre at best. Don’t be Leslie Knope.

You Can’t Make Simple Decisions

I hit a cat once with my car. I remember it ran out into the road and when it saw me coming, it just stopped. Was it suicidal? No. It froze in fear because it couldn’t decide which way to run. It went left, then back right, then it went to cat heaven.

A person who wants approval can sometimes be frozen like that between the simplest decisions. They want to please two opposing parties and can’t decide. They fail to realize that indecision is still a decision.

You’re not going to please everyone, so if you’re in between like that, rather than be frozen in fear, just pick your favorite and move on. Seriously though, make the best decision based on the decision and not your desire for others to like you. After all, God will always like you and He’s a better friend than any of those people, anyway!

You Feel Exhausted Because No One Knows Who You “Really Are”

When I was growing up, my parents told me to date someone at least a year before I asked them to marry me. You’d think a 7th grader would know that, but I was a special kind of ignorant. The reason for this was because they said that a person can pretend to be something they aren’t for about a year before they just can’t do it anymore.

They get exhausted, and those with approval issues are usually just as tired. It takes a lot of work to be someone that you’re not, and gaining others’ approval often requires you to put on your salesman hat. It’s probably a 60’s style fedora.

But that’s not who you are really. Those with approval issues feel so trapped by their need to gain acceptance that they often feel like no one really knows who they are? And you know what? They don’t.

But that’s your fault, not theirs.

Leaders with approval issues are hard to follow. They frustrate their subordinates and confuse peers because the matrix for decision-making keeps changing based on who they talked to last.

Do you have approval issues? Share your experiences in the comments!

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  • John Miller

    I get this 100%! I remember in high school there was an unofficial contest to see who could have the biggest list of accomplishments beside their yearbook picture. I was in every club I could possibly be in- FCA, Key Club, Drama Club, Choir, 3 sports a year- to bulk up my end of year resume. I’ve always battled the “people pleasing” itch, it’s a tough thing to overcome.

    Do you have any thoughts on how to defeat that mentality?

    • Seth Muse

      John, what I do, in the spirit of “taking every thought captive and making it obedient to Christ,” is continually “my life verse to myself. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “for I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. They are plans to prosper you and not to harm you; to give you hope and a future.” My identity is in Jesus Christ who has redeemed me. That gives me confidence to know that if I am truly listening to gods voice and following him daily, no matter what people think of me, I am OK. I am going to “do my different” every day. Mentally, it is a matter of claiming the truth of God’s Word over my feelings every day. Not easily done, but easily said!

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