The Bible often refers to human beings as sheep. Easily distracted and susceptible to group influence, we’d rather follow the crowd rather than the wisdom of our Good Shepherd. “What will you think of me?” is an extremely powerful motivator. Our longing for positive self-worth and self-esteem may lead us to do things that are equivalent to jumping off a cliff.
One enduring attribute of most human beings, particularly women, is we obsess about how people view us and our family, and our general appearance. We characteristically seek the approval of others. I can’t do this or wear that…What would they think of me! Most often we don’t realize it is an obsession, but it is. We are approval junkies shaped by other people’s opinions, real or assumed. The bad news is this obsession affects more decisions than we realize.
The desire for approval begins when we’re toddlers. Every child seeks recognition. “Look! See what I can do!” Most everyone has been caught in the trap of approval addiction, which is to live in bondage to what others think of us. Approval addiction is when a person compulsively seeks the acceptance and favor of others.
When a person has an excessive need for approval, they constantly seek out validation from others. This can take the form of always agreeing with or doing things for others, while at the same time ignoring their own feelings and needs. Personal boundaries become blurred and they aren’t able to prioritize what is truly important in their lives.
Being addicted to approval is not the same as having a healthy need for praise. There is nothing bad in applauding someone for a job well done. In fact, it is important in building self-esteem. Everyone needs to feel valued. We all search for significance, but some not always in a positive way. And, what I’ve learned is that most people are not sizing you up. They are too busy thinking about themselves, thinking what they’re going to say next to impress you or the other person!
I can’t recall a time I didn’t seek others approval. Truth be told, today, it surfaces its ugly head on my Facebook fan page. If you “like” my post I feel approved of, possibly even admired. If few people “like” my posts it’s tempting to believe no one likes me. A fact of life is we won’t always be liked by everyone. It has been said that ten percent of the people you interact with will not like you, no matter how nice you are.
Others see what we do, but God see why we do it. Jesus said, "Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them. …. but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you” (Matthew 6:1;18).
The gaping hole in our soul gets bigger when we substitute another person’s approval for God’s. Ask yourself, “Who am I following?” and “To whom do I belong?”
This is an excerpt from the book "Something Happened On My Way To Hell" by author Kimberly Davidson