No matter how many awards I won growing up, how many times I came first in a dance comp, or how many workshops I ran, I never felt true happiness or a sense of pride in my success, unless I received praise from someone. As a result, I would jump straight into picking apart what I could’ve done better, I’d immediately look for the next learning opportunity so I could improve, and I’d get pulled into negative thought patterns around whether I was good enough, if people liked me, or whether or not it was even worth me trying anymore. All because no one said anything.
I knew I had to get to the bottom of this, or else I’d spend the rest of my life running an endless and fruitless race, and more importantly it was holding me back from being able to enjoy my life. In a nut-shell, I had to learn how to end my addiction to praise.
As I started down this journey, I discovered I was not alone.
There were many others suffering from an addiction to approval, and the need for validation in their work, relationships, and even their bodies.
I saw people condemn themselves as failures, drive themselves crazy going over and over an event because they couldn’t shake ‘it’ off that no one said anything to them, and countless others holding themselves back from trying something new or going after a new, exciting challenge, because they were afraid of being criticised.
So, how can we end the addiction, and start enjoying our own successes?
Address your fears – Attachment to praise is less about the external situation, and more about our own internal needs and motivations. If you we’re honest with ourselves, the validation we seek comes from a negative belief we believe, or fear, to be true about ourselves.
We need someone to say X to disprove Y, or comment on this, to prove we are that. Therefore, stop and ask what limiting belief, or doubt, about yourself is driving your need for validation?
Find a bigger meaning – When we put all the attention on ourselves, and get caught up in how WE feel and OUR thoughts, our view becomes very narrow. Turn your attention outwards, and ask yourself what’s more important to me here than receiving praise?
Tara Mohr uses a great analogy here of a sundae – Look at what’s more meaningful, that brings greater value in your life, as the sundae, and praise as simply the cherry on top – you can take it or leave it!
Take back your authority – When we are seeking praise and validation from others, we are giving away our authority and rights on the matter. This leaves us wide open to the whims and opinions of what other people think about who we are, how we look, our work, our abilities, our worth. In reality, what others have to say is a direct reflection of their beliefs and needs, not yours.
Therefore, learn to trust yourself first and foremost, and if praise or criticism comes your way, ask yourself what does it tell you about the preferences, priorities, beliefs and needs of them, not you?
There you have it, three powerful ways you can start eliminating the need for validation and approval in your life.
Have a lovely week, and I look forward to hearing how you go with these steps – which technique did you try? What happened as a result?