There are many different techniques a therapist can employ in cognitive therapy to aid individuals that are looking to conquer their need for approval. The most common and often the most productive are listed below.
Discover the trigger:
The situation in which you find yourself may actually be the trigger as you may be worried about what others may think of you. Too many times, when you are ready to discuss a situation, you may be too worried about your own underlying feelings and thoughts which can bring about feelings of your own need for approval, so you say nothing.
Pros and Cons for seeking approval:
Too many times a person that always seeks approval will allow others to take advantage of them due to this need. Due to this, the person that needs approval may not be honest or let their true feelings show so others will still approve of them. On many occasions for those that seek approval, they want to be liked by all they come in contact with even if they do not agree with their point of view or their actions. Instead of saying something, the person just accepts the situation which can often put in harm’s way such as being in a group that uses drugs. If you are placing yourself in danger just to have the approval of your peer group then this is certainly a con of needing everyone’s approval.
Immediate negative thoughts:
When first meeting new individuals or even being in your own group of friends, you may have negative thoughts as soon as you see a person. These thoughts could be such as “This person believes I am mean”, “He will not like me.”, and “I hate to argue.”, among others. Once these thoughts hit home, you will need to figure out what they mean you to personally. If you think this person will not like you, do you think it is because you are a bad person or that you are wrong in some way? On the other hand, some individuals that seek approval, often believe that one person that does not like them will talk about them and make them lose all their friends. Due to these thoughts, too many times, the person seeking approval will go overboard to make this person like them even if it puts them in harm’s way.
Know the evidence and then consider the thoughts:
If someone in your group of friends disagrees with you, you must look at your thoughts. Could you be wrong? Do your ideas truly make you a bad person? The truth is that you may just have different ideas or opinions than another person and it does not mean they will no longer be your friend. You will need to think back and decide if you are still friends with another person after you did not see eye to eye. Just because one person is no longer your friend after disagreeing, does not mean that every person that does not agree will no longer be your friend.
Think of others:
There is more than likely sometime in your life that a friend has come to you because a friend of theirs disagrees with them. What advice would you give? Would you automatically believe your friend was bad or wrong or the other person or could you see both sides?
Does it change anything that this person does not like you?:
You must weigh what would change if this person does not like you. Could you still do all your normal activities, be with your family, and enjoy work and your home life? You may realize, that nothing will change at all except that you had a disagreement with this person. This person may even still be in your life but may respect your opinion as you stood up for your ideas, beliefs, and opinions.
Consider how you will feel when you remember the situation:
In the future when the situation comes to mind, how will you feel? You may realize that after a few months, the thoughts never come to mind. This means all the worry at the moment has no long term effects on your emotions or thoughts. You must learn to put these experiences in perspective and give them the right attention which is often much less than you realize.
There is not one person in the entire world that everyone loves and accepts. Every person has more than one person in their life that does not like something they have said or done. However, these individuals still continue to make it through life very happily.
Fear and anxiety:
In order to overcome needing everyone’s approval, you must learn to stand up for yourself. If not, more and more people will actually use you often without your own knowledge as you live in fear wanting everyone to like you. You may soon learn that you are the one babysitting everyone’s kids at family events even though you do not have any kids, cleaning up the kitchen while the family is visiting, and so on and so forth. Seeking approval can often make you everyone’s puppet instead of being part of the family. Being assertive and standing up for yourself is not a bad thing and you may begin to enjoy family gatherings without the fear of losing their approval.
You are always going to meet someone that disagrees with you on some point. This does not mean that you will lose your friends. You must learn how to be assertive in a way that others will respect your wishes and opinions, while still ensuring you are going to be stepped on.
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