Combat the Approval Addiction

Comparing ourselves to others is practically served to us on a silver platter in this digital world. We have constant access to everyone’s highlight reel. We carry around a device that chirps and chimes, which studies have proven sends dopamine through our systems.

With every like and message, we receive the approval we so desperately seek. We ask people to follow us and like our page! Instead of feeling slight disappointment when we lose a follower, we question what’s wrong with me?

This topic has been talked to death, but I still feel like we’re missing a big piece of the puzzle. People often reminisce about the simpler times. But they’re forgetting one thing.

You’re in control of how you live your life.

While it’s unlikely we’ll ever go back to front porch sitting and land lines, you can set up your digital life to foster happiness.

Remember in middle school when your biggest concern was making sure you weren’t on the evil popular girl’s bad side? You didn’t need to be her friend, you just didn’t need for her to be your enemy.

Stop making approval the enemy in your life.

We seem to forget about the physical world directly in front of us. At any given moment, there are people around you. And those people choose to be near you, spend time wth you, and love you. And instead, we’re glued to these tiny devices full of our digital dopamine dealers.

We forget who and what matters. Instead of seeking the approval from the people in our lives who love us and are invested in our futures, we open that door open to the general public.

And that misery stems from our addiction to approval, from our inability to recognize that these momentary hits of dopamine aren’t actually improving our lives but instead hurting it.

Brene Brown has an excellent exercise for dragging yourself out of the approval addiction spiral.

  1. Cut out a 1 inch square of paper.
  2. Write down the names of the people whose opinions matter the most to you. Remember, you can only write as many fit on that piece of paper.
  3. Refer to it whenever you start to feel yourself spiraling.

It’s an incredible visual reminder that we are often so busy seeking approval from those who don’t even know us. I can assure you this exercise is not only grounding but inspiring. How many times have you been in the middle of working on a big project only to see that someone else is doing something similar? Or how often do you stop dead in your tracks, giving up before you’ve really even started, because of a critical comment someone made about your process?

This exercise reminds you of the people who actually matter. When you feel the need to seek approval, seek it from them, from the people who love you enough to be harsh when necessary but not for sport.

In totally unrelated news, welcome back to I’ll address this in a post coming soon!

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1 Comment

  1. Kristin Darhower

    January 26, 2017 at 11:06 pm

    I like Brown’s idea of carrying that paper around in your wallet.
    I feel like I’m only ever seeking my own approval…is that worse? Hmmm…

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