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Jay Abbasi

Jay Abbasi

Mindfulness Coach and Consultant

The Need for Acceptance: 3 Mindful Steps to Overcome Approval Seeking Behavior

You’re 10 years old in a group of children about to play a game of dodgeball. Two captains take center field and start picking players.

Some time goes by and no one’s picked you yet. You look to your left and right and realize what was once a large group surrounding you has now whittled down to a few. You realize there are only 3 kids left…now 2…and then, the worst happens.

You are the last one picked.

How would your 10 year old self feel?

It isn’t a good feeling, is it? To feel unwanted. To feel rejected. To feel as though you are inferior to others.

We are tribal beings, and the fear of rejection is one of the strongest and most difficult emotions we can experience.

Whether we know it or not, we are significantly influenced by praise, approval, and validation, along with blame, rejection, and disregard.

In my previous post, I shared that there are 4 Natural Programs that run within us and can cause you a great deal of dissatisfaction. The second of these programs is…

The Need for Acceptance.

I’ve struggled with this personally for much of my life. Since I was a child, I always wanted people to like me. When I get a sense that someone doesn’t like me I experience a great deal of anxiety.

Additionally, I found myself getting caught up in praise and recognition throughout my life. In other words, I invested much of my happiness in what others would think of me.

Well that’s not 100% accurate.

I invested much of my happiness in what I believe others think of me.

It’s taken me years to work through this program.

Maybe you can relate.

Think about your experience with approval seeking. Where does your need for acceptance present itself? Usually, we crave validation during periods of high stress and pressure. We look for assurance of our value through praise and recognition. Naturally, work and family life can serve as big triggers.

Imagine a situation where your need for acceptance comes up. When you imagine that someone you admire thinks you’re incompetent, how does that feel? Now imagine that someone you admire thinks you’re exceptional, how does THAT feel?

Why does that matter to us so much?

If you read my last post, you know it’s due to our genetics and conditioning, therefore, it is not your fault.

It is, however, your responsibility.

So how do you override your need for acceptance and belonging?

Step #1: Recognize your Need for Acceptance.

Your need for acceptance exists – it always will, in some small ways. As previously mentioned, our origins are rooted in tribal community – the need to belong underpins the fabric of our society and culture. Without connection and inspiration from others, we have no reason to act.

Your longing for approval needs to be addressed when it begins interfering with your wellbeing and emotional state.

If you find yourself emotionally exhausted and unable to focus from spending so much time worrying about how others see you, your need for acceptance has evolved into counter-productive approval-seeking behavior.

Step #2: Work through feelings of rejection. 

When we experience rejection, it feels like a dismissal of our identity, with all our defining choices coming into question.

Getting invested in your work is not only natural, it’s vital to your success. When you’re as passionate as you are, it’s easy to take criticism personally.

If you perceive someone rejecting or blaming you…

  • Realize it has little to do with you, and everything to do with the other person
  • Be compassionate to yourself and affirm that you are enough (putting a hand over the heart and saying affirmations such as “I am enough” quietly to yourself may help)
  • Recognize what you can and can’t control; you can control your response to the situation, but you cannot control what others think of you
  • Remember this statistic; 33% of people will like you, 33% of people won’t like you, and 33% will be neutral to you, no matter WHAT you do
  • See that their rejection of you has to do with their insecurities and fear, meaning they are the one that is suffering
  • Offer compassion for the other person since they are struggling

Step #3: Avoid getting caught up in praise. 

While receiving compliments makes us feel good, it’s important to stay mindful of how it can derail you. Praise should be a well-deserved reward for your hard work. But when praise takes over as your main motivator, you end up emotionally exhausted and struggling with burn out.

If you perceive that someone is recognizing or praising you…

  • Thank the person genuinely and without self-deprecation
  • Remember that your happiness is not invested in the other person liking you; your happiness comes from within yourself
  • Notice any desires you have to hold on to this recognition, and let it go

This week, be aware of the Need for Acceptance program. Consider how the need for approval shows up in your life. Once you’ve identified where your approval-seeking behavior is holding your back, use the points above as strategies to override this program.

You do not need to be a victim of this acceptance-seeking program. This week, make the choice to not allow the Need for Acceptance to run your life.

Also, please remember…

It’s not your fault.

But it is your responsibility.

Next week, I’ll cover the Third Natural Program, which is Never Enough.

Be here.

Be now.

With love,

Jay

P.S. You CAN override these programs, and sometimes, you need a little help in doing so. My years of coaching and mindfulness experience will help you override these programs and unlock your full potential! Click here to schedule time with me to get a free 30 minute discovery session.

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