Refreshing the page time after time – thrilled when another like popped up, disappointed when one didn’t. I constantly stared at the selfie until I hated it. Delete. Why did I even post it? This was just one of the many instances I craved the approval from others that social media could supply. I realise now that needed it to feel whole; I didn’t feel whole in myself so I went to others to fill that void.
This never worked, not for the long-term. I would gain momentary pleasure from somebody saying “they liked my dress” but it would fade and I’d be left itching for more. All hell would break loose if someone was to criticise said dress. I would start questioning it myself and convince myself they were right. My self-image was centred on how I was perceived by those around me. It may seem dramatic to say seeking approval ruined my life but it did; it stopped me reaching my fullest potential. Constantly questioning yourself because you want validation from others immobilizes you to do the things you truly want to do.
I had to break free for my sanity. I wasn’t living the life I wanted to live because I was constantly worried about what people thought about me. In reality, they weren’t thinking anything about me at all. Understanding this can help you get out of this self-destructive and debilitating cycle.
Firstly, understand that people are not as interested in your life as much as you think. Everyone is so wrapped up in their own lives and worrying about their own decisions they simply do not have time to think about you. If they do then they clearly need to get their priorities straight. People are way too invested in themselves (we all can be pretty selfish at times) to care about what you are wearing or posting on Instagram. If you think about it, you are probably so wrapped up in your own head that you don’t pay that much attention to others, so why would they be so concerned with you? They aren’t! It is very difficult to drill this into your head but once you start recognising people do not notice you as much as you think (or want) you will start living for you.
It is also important to do some ‘self-discovery’ to identify where your own approval-seeking comes from. This may be difficult and you may need to look back into your past but once you know where it started it will be easier to tackle it. For many people, their people-pleasing mentality stems from childhood. It may also be in your nature to crave validation. It is, at the end of the day part of humanity to strive to find your place in the world so do not be too hard on yourself! If these thoughts are becoming debilitating or manifesting as anxiety or depression, however, it may be time to seek professional help.
Personally, I strove to create a clear idea of who I wanted to be. I wrote about who that person is and got in touch with my higher self. This can be as spiritual or as non-spiritual as you want. I challenged myself and did not hold back, asking myself does that version of you ignore those who give off bad vibes? Does the ideal me tell it how it is? Do they have a certain goal they want to achieve? I zoned in on this version of myself; the person I truly wanted to be and any time I start wondering about people opinions I ask myself these questions. That version of me does not need approval from anyone other than myself.
Allow yourself to be vulnerable. This was exceptionally hard for me, but it was necessary. It is so important to get in touch with your emotions. One of the biggest lessons was to allow myself to accept my emotions and to feel them. There is power in vulnerability.
It may sound cliche and you’ve properly heard this one before but if they care about what you’re doing (which they most likely don’t) they are simply jealous and insecure. People like this will always find something to pick you apart for no matter what you’re doing. If someone really obsesses that much about your life then their lives must be pretty boring. Take it as a compliment, your life is far more interesting. Those who matter will support your decision to be yourself and will embrace you as you are. You cannot please everybody so focus on pleasing yourself. At the end of the day, your own approval is the only one that matters.
Words by Amy Stansfield
Love Lifestyle? Read more here.
Support The Indiependent
We’re trying to raise £200 a month to help cover our operational costs. This includes our ‘Writer of the Month’ awards, where we recognise the amazing work produced by our contributor team. If you’ve enjoyed reading our site, we’d really appreciate it if you could donate to The Indiependent. Whether you can give £1 or £10, you’d be making a huge difference to our small team.