Overcoming The Need For Approval: A Heart-Centred Pathway
When I was about 5 years old my journey to seeking validation from others was already in full swing. I got into a phase of singing never-ending songs to whomever was willing to listen. It was pure improvisation, words made up in the moment and a bit of melody. No huge gifts in this area.
My parents quickly grew a bit bored or maybe were too busy to appreciate my impromptu performances, so they tried to escape by giving me a big round of applause, clapping their hands out long before my song was finished. I remember (and it is recorded on one of these old – fashioned tape -recorders) my tiny voice saying ‘that’s not the end…’
Each time it happened I was a bit disappointed but also so very flattered with their response. Little did they realize that the more they clapped the more I wanted to sing.
Seeking Validation From Others Is A Very Addictive Thing. And It Takes Deep Roots.
Many years after that ‘phase’ ended I would still go above and beyond to get even an ersatz of this kind of validation and approval from literally everyone around.
Do you feel like you still have to look for outside approval and validation even though you are a ‘big girl’ now:)?
As if your self-confidence was directly related to what others say or think about you?
Well, you’re not alone. It’s a very common thing you probably learnt early in life as we were rewarded for being good, for fulfilling the expectations of your parents, carers, teachers at school, and punished (even if in a very subtle way) if you didn’t’ meet them.
For many of us this went even a step further. We might have felt loved and accepted only if we fulfilled certain standards or behaved in a certain way. In that case love probably felt like a very conditional experience. And when you were small, being loved was a matter of life or death, so you had to find ways to work around it if you wanted to survive.
But what might have been a life-saving strategy when you were 5, is most probably working against you (big time!) when you’re 50 or so.
True Authentic Confidence In Yourself Can’t Exist When You Are Constantly Seeking Validation From Others
Focusing externally keeps you stuck and feeling inadequate, playing small and having little (or no) true confidence – confidence that comes from within and doesn’t depend on outside approval.
Maybe you find yourself constantly trying to please others, doing your utmost to make them think positively about you, going far and beyond to get their acceptance, so that you feel better about yourself.
In this scenario your confidence totally depends on what others do or say or even think about you. You end up trying to figure out what you need to do or say to keep them ‘happy’ with you, constantly worrying about how they will respond.
It’s a never-ending story, you keep trying and trying and trying and … it’s never enough.
In the meantime you constantly dismiss what YOU need and want, think and feel, how you want to live your life, and who you truly are. Because it so often gets in the way of getting approval, doesn’t it?
It’s very difficult to feel truly confident if you validate your worth outside of yourself.
So how do you break free from this habit of making yourself feel better by getting outside approval?
True and authentic confidence always starts inside.
If you want to feel truly confident in yourself, if you want to feel good in your own skin, if you want the freedom and joy of being unapologetically you – you need to start building your self-confidence from the inside out.
On the outside, it might feel like if only you lost a few pounds, got a better job, found a new relationship or broke free from the old one – you’d feel so much better about yourself.
But I’m sure you’ve noticed by now, that even if you fulfill some of these conditions and get a bit of a boost, your doubts and insecurities come back like a boomerang.
So what can you do instead?
Letting Go Of Others Opinions: How To Take A Heart Centered Path To Self Confidence
There are 4 main steps you need to focus on if you want to take a heart-centered pathway to self-confidence. The pathway that will take you right to your INNER confidence and sense of empowerment, so that you can rise and shine in your true beauty and power.
You need to remember that all the things that you do, or don’t do because you don’t feel confident enough are just learned behaviors.
It’s not who you are, it’s not your personality or nature, it is what you learned because of factors far beyond your control.
And yes, it takes a bit of effort and practice (and often support) to unlearn them – but it’s totally doable. Confidence is something we can practice and build up.
Overcoming The Need For Approval & Validation – A Four Step Process
- Emotional resilience. Learn how to be ok with your emotions and the emotions of others around you (all of them – even the most uncomfortable ones!)
- Building a loving and accepting relationship with your physical body. Learn how to feel good in your physical body, how to accept and appreciate it. It is so important, especially for us women!
- Connecting to your resources. Recognise and start to make use of all the beautiful and powerful gifts you already have in you. We so often forget about them or take them for granted.
- Connecting to your values. Find your core values. Thay are the engine (we so often forget about) that sets things in motion in your life. They will not only tell you where to go, but they will give you all the motivation, energy and courage you need to build your confidence up.
This is how to start your own journey to self- confidence and empowerment in the easiest way possible.
Choose an area where you feel not as confident as you would like to be.
- Start reconnecting to what truly matters to you. Why is it so important for you to get more confidence in this area? What would be different if you already had all the confidence you need?
- And once you know your ‘big why’, start taking baby steps out of your comfort zone, even if it feels like your confidence is far behind.
Stepping Away From Seeking Validation From Others Takes Time & Practice
Let me give you an example.
When I first came to Ireland I felt really scared and embarrassed about my English. I thought I wouldn’t be able to find my words or to understand what others were saying to me. Honestly, I felt so out of my depth that I found it difficult to function normally for the first few weeks. I felt that way in spite of the fact that I used to work as a teacher of English for years prior to this move!
One day, shortly after moving from Poland I wanted to send a postcard for my friend’s birthday. I went to the post office to buy a stamp in the beautiful little town of Killorglin in County Kerry, where we initially lived.
But when I got to the post office, I got really anxious. I felt too embarrassed to ask the lady for the stamp and got really scared that someone could ask me something or start talking to me (people are very friendly at Irish post offices, right? Not easy to come and go unnoticed:)
I couldn’t bring myself to walk inside. I walked past the entrance a few times and … I went back home and told my husband and my kids that the queue was too long and I didn’t want to wait.
I was almost 40 at the time.
Can you imagine how embarrassed I was not being able to buy this stamp? I felt so ashamed of myself that I believed I had to lie to my family.
It Took Time But I Am Finally Free Of My Need For External Approval
Fast forward to now. Here I am, 10 years later, having worked with hundreds of clients, run workshops and online group programmes, recorded trainings and FB lives and written blog posts and articles… All in English.
I am here because I was able to embrace all of my shame and reconnect to what really mattered to me. I wanted to settle here in this beautiful country. I wanted to make my new home here. And I wanted to do the work I was passionate about. I wanted to work with women – back then not online but face to face- which meant: locally, which meant: in English.
It mattered so much to me that it gave me all the courage and strength I needed to get over my embarrassment and fears and start taking small but consistent steps to make this happen.
This is how you do it. Keep in heart what really matters to you and take the smallest (and easiest) step out of your comfort zone you can think of. Rinse and repeat. As many times as you need to make it feel like not a ‘big deal’ any more. Once it becomes your ‘new normal’, take another baby step out of your comfort zone. Rinse and repeat until this in turn becomes your new normal. And again. And again. And again.
And your self-confidence?
Well, it’s always a few steps behind.
I might still feel a bit nervous doing my Facebook live but I promise you, buying stamps is no longer an issue for me.
You can do the same.
Your values will guide you on the way and give you all the courage and motivation you need. Your comfort zone will expand more and more, gradually and sustainably, towards your final goal.
And guess what? Your self-confidence will spike up with each and every action you take, no matter what others think or say. Because this time, it will be your own, heart-and-belly-felt, inner SELF-confidence.
No more second guessing yourself, going out of your way to get outside approval, or hiding in the corner terrified of being judged. Now, at last, you can be fully and unapologetically YOU.
I have seen this happening not only in my own life but also for hundreds of my clients. If you feel like it’s high time for you to do the same- lets’ talk. You can book a free, non-obligation call here.