How to Fix Your Approval-Based People-Pleasing Mentality

Written by
Michael Wells

How to Fix Your Approval-Based People-Pleasing Mentality

Written by
Michael Wells

How to Fix Your Approval-Based People-Pleasing Mentality

Written by
Michael Wells

Are you sick & tired of feeling like you need the validation of others? 

If you are looking to change this, then you are headed down one of the most beautiful paths I have ever found.

It took me a long time to understand how my mind really works...

We get to choose what we base our self-worth on, and basing it on the validation of others is just not much fun.

My life became a lot more meaningful when I devoted my energy to becoming the best person I can be, instead of the person that other people want me to be.

Before realising that, I suffered in so many ways. My validation-seeking looked like this-

  • I always needed to look good in public
  • I stressed constantly about things like my weight, hairstyle, acne, and fashion sense. Especially in high school
  • Rejection was one of the scariest things imaginable
  • I never felt happy. I felt briefly validated when I felt noticed and “liked,” but the feeling faded quickly and then I felt “forgotten”
  • I craved the attention of people who I saw as “the beautiful people”
  • I avoided people who I saw as unattractive. I was very judgmental in how I used my “attractiveness” measure-of-value, towards others and myself.
  • I couldn’t confront people, or easily change uncomfortable situations.

How to Change This

My way out involved a few changes in my thinking and daily routine, Here are a few principles that helped me get there. I hope these help you too.

Principle #1 - Focus on the Goal, not the Problem

Instead of asking “how do I escape this?”, look at what you are wanting to achieve. Your compass is this question -

“What would my life be like, if I didn’t need anyone’s approval to feel happy?”

Write down your answers, review them each morning, and edit it whenever you discover something new.

Principle #2 - You are What You Do

Begin focusing your attention on things you love to DO… things that are based in creativity, intelligence, curiosity, learning, movement.

Pick some interests you have, and start asking yourself-

“What can I do now, to get better at this?”

You’ll notice that when you are living by your own values, that you begin validating yourself. The opinions of others matter a lot less, and you begin to absolutely love who you are.

The key is in doing, not being - because doing is a decision that you make, where you get to add value to your life & your world. It’s also about change and growth, becoming something better.

Principle #3 - Re-define Who you See as Valuable People

From principle #2, you’ll start to notice other people who share your interests. If you like art for example, you’ll suddenly notice people who also do art. The same for writing, dance, music, martial arts, sports, gardening, reading, philosophy, math, sciences…

You’ll start valuing people more by what they do and what they create, than how they look.

Also… start spending some time with people that you find physically unattractive. Make a few friends. Yes, this sounds weird & uncomfortable, but it’s important. Right now your mind sees attractiveness as an important measurement of value... Hollywood & a million magazine covers have programmed you well. What you’ll realize soon is that the value of a person goes so much deeper.

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Does Time Heal All Wounds?

I used to think so, but... it seems time doesn't help as much as you'd expect with mental trauma.

Except when you die, of course, we assume.

I recently coached a man who was still missing his girlfriend from high school. They dated for only 2 months. He last saw her 34 years ago, and has not had contact with her since. 34 years... mind-blowing.

The mind reinforces what you choose to think about consciously, and it surfaces memories and imagery attached to what it wants & needs emotionally.

When you experience trauma, I see people heal much faster and more completely if they approach it the same as, say, a broken leg. Get it set right, attended too, care for it. Don't walk on it for awhile, then once it's sound, re-strengthen it and rebuild the muscles with exercise. Done right, it will be stronger than it was before it was broken.