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Thread: Article, "Tackling Your Dire Need for Approval"

  1. #1
    laceyjay
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    Article, "Tackling Your Dire Need for Approval"

    This article is "Tackling Your Dire Need for Approval," by Albert Ellis and Robert Harper, from smartrecovery dot org. You can find it there at >>Resources >> Articles and Essays (I'm new still at enotalone and can't post URLs). It appears to be talking only to me , but you may find it helpful too.

    I believe that (sometimes? most of the time?) this need for approval plus inability to accept or give love except as a creative exercise drives performers, writers, and others who express themselves creatively - just on a larger scale than one-on-one.

    Please post your opinion!

    Tackling Your Dire Need for Approval

    Irrational Belief #1:
    The idea that you must have love or approval from all the significant people in your life.

    People strongly desire approval and would be much less happy if they received none. Nonetheless, adults do not need approval. The word need derives from the Middle English work nede, the Anglo-Saxon nead, and the Indo-European term nauto, which mean to collapse with weariness. In English it mainly means necessity; compulsion; obligation; something utterly required for life and happiness.

    Wants, preferences, and desires are not needs or necessities. When you insist that you absolutely must have approval, you self-sabotage yourself for several reasons:

    Your demand that every important person love you creates a perfectionistic, unattainable goal. If you could get ninety-nine people to love you, you will always encounter the hundredth that doesn’t.

    Even if you demand love from a limited number of people, you cannot usually win the approval of all of them. Some, because of their own limitations, will have little ability to love anyone. Others will disapprove of you for reasons entirely beyond your control. Still others will despise you forever because of some prejudice against you.

    Once you absolutely “need” love, you will worry how much and how long you will be approved. Do others really care enough? And if they do, will they continue to care tomorrow and the year after? With thoughts like these, you will feel endless panic.

    If you always need love, you must always be distinctly lovable. But who is? Even when you have lovable traits, how can you display them at all times for all people?

    If you could always win the approval of those you ”need” you would have to spend so much time and energy doing so that you would have no time for other pursuits. Constantly striving for approval means living mainly for what others want you to do rather than for your own goals. It often means playing the patsy and buying others’ approval.

    Ironically enough, the greater your need for love, the less people will tend to respect and care for you. Even though they like your catering to them, they may despise your neediness and see you as a weak person. Also, by desperately trying to win people’s approval, you may easily annoy them, bore them to distraction, and again be less desirable.

    Feeling loved, once you achieve it, may be boring and bothersome, as people who love you often make inroads on your time and energy. Actively loving someone else is a creative and absorbing act. But the dire need for love easily blocks ardor. Perversely, it sabotages loving, because when you demand intense affection, you have little time and energy to devote to the growth and development of those on whom you make your demands.

    The dire need for love frequently encourages your own feelings of worthlessness: “I must have love, because I am a lowly incompetent individual who cannot possibly get along without it. thereforeeee, I must have, I need, devotion from others.” By desperately seeking love in this manner, you frequently cover up your own feelings of worthlessness and thereby do nothing to tackle them and overcome them. The more you “succeed” in being greatly loved, the more you may inflate this goal and continue to indoctrinate yourself with the idea that you cannot regulate your own life.

    For these reasons, you can rationally forgo the goal of gaining undying love. Instead, you’d better accept yourself and remain vitally absorbed in people, things and ideas outside yourself. For paradoxically, you usually find yourself by losing yourself in outside pursuits and not by merely contemplating your own navel.

    If you actually have a dire need for love; if you accept the fact that you have it; and if you keep challenging, questioning, and disputing it, it will ultimately and often quickly, decrease. For remember: It is your need; and you keep sustaining it.

    Other methods to combat and minimize your overwhelming love needs include:

    Ask yourself what you really want to do, rather than what others would like you to do. And keep asking yourself, from time to time: “Do I keep doing this or refusing to do that because I really want it that way? Or do I, once again, unthinkingly insist on trying to please others?”

    In going after what you really want, take risks, commit yourself, and don’t desperately avoid making mistakes. Do not be needlessly foolhardy. But convince yourself that if you fail to get something you want and people laugh at or criticize you, and merely show you how you failed, they may have a problem. As long as you learn by your errors, does it make that much difference what they think?

    Focus on loving more than on winning love. Realize that vital living hardly consists of passive receiving but of doing, acting, reaching out. And just as you can force yourself to play the piano, do yoga exercises, or go to work every day, you can also often commit yourself to loving others. In so doing, your dire needs for their love will probably decrease.

    Above all, don’t confuse getting love with having personal worth. If you rate yourself as having intrinsic worth or value as a human, you’d better claim to have it by virtue of your mere existence, your aliveness - and not because of anything you do to “earn” it. No matter how much others approve of you, or how much they may value you for their own benefit, they can only give you extrinsic value or worth to them. They cannot, by loving you, give you intrinsic value- or self-worth. If intrinsic value exists at all (which we seriously doubt, since it seems an undefinable thing in itself), you get it because you choose, you decide to have it. It exists because of your own definitions. You are “good” or “deserving” because you think you are and not because anyone awards you this kind of an “inherent value”.

    If you can really believe these very important points - that you need not rate yourself, your essense, at all, and that you can choose to call yourself “worthwhile” just because you decide to do so - you will tend to lose your desperate need for others’ approval. For you need - or think you need - their acceptance not because of the practical advantages it may bring, but because you foolishly define your worth as a human in terms of receiving it. Once you stop this kind of self-defeating defining, your dire need for their approval tends to diminish. Similarly, if you reduce your dire need for others’ esteem, you will find it relatively easy to stop rating yourself as a person, even though you continue to rate many of your traits. You will create unconditional self-acceptance - will value yourself merely because you are alive and kicking, and for that reason alone “deserve” to have an enjoyable life.

    Taken from Chapter 10: Tackling Your Dire Need for Approval: A Guide To Rational Living, Albert Ellis & Robert Harper

  2. #2
    Dako
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    I agree that seeking approval can leave no room for self-fulfillment, but I wonder if the authors got paid per word.

  3. #3
    laceyjay
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dako [Register to see the link]
    I agree that seeking approval can leave no room for self-fulfillment, but I wonder if the authors got paid per word.
    hmm, I agree that it's long, but it doesn't seem to repeat itself. It's of help to me anyway!

  4. #4
    Cimmie
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    That's an interesting piece. Especially on 'choosing' to regard yourself as worthwhile. I do agree that it's as rational a choice as that. The problem is that many of us have values that we rarely question or are scarcely aware of, which influence or determine what we regard as 'inherently valuable' in ourselves or in others. It takes effort and awareness to recognise those values and drag them into the light.

    It's more than just a choice, though. Worth is always determined by a sense of value, and redefining and maturing your values is an important and difficult job.

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    laceyjay
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    Cimmie, I think that's just what the authors are saying - as I understand this they're reminding us that we can expect others to judge us according to their values no matter what we do, so we must determine and live by our own values. Then our values will be recognized and approved of by others who share those values...etc....everybody happy and approving, sunshine unicorns

    They're generalizing so basically ("value yourself merely because you are alive," "you are good or deserving because you think you are") because they're talking to a generic lay audience.

    I agree with you about many of us rarely questioning or being scarcely aware of our values - often we just run the "Values" tape our parents (for prime example) set in our heads, without question, all our lives. (I like Transactional Analysis, can you tell?)

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    Cimmie
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    Quote Originally Posted by laceyjay [Register to see the link]
    Cimmie, I think that's just what the authors are saying - as I understand this they're reminding us that we can expect others to judge us according to their values no matter what we do, so we must determine and live by our own values. Then our values will be recognized and approved of by others who share those values...etc....everybody happy and approving, sunshine unicorns

    They're generalizing so basically ("value yourself merely because you are alive," "you are good or deserving because you think you are") because they're talking to a generic lay audience.

    I agree with you about many of us rarely questioning or being scarcely aware of our values - often we just run the "Values" tape our parents (for prime example) set in our heads, without question, all our lives. (I like Transactional Analysis, can you tell?)
    Exactly. We grow up conditioned by values our parents set (usually an ill-defined bundle of beliefs, prejudices, fears and some good stuff too).

    I admit to being a desperate approval seeker in the past. I do think that I'm beginning to get over it now and part of that involves really examining my values for the first time and deciding on them for myself and not because they are determined by other people. Really exercising choice and not being lazy or passive.

    I do think this is one of the most important things we can do to become adult and responsible human beings.

    BTW, what's Transactional Analysis?

  7. #7
    laceyjay
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cimmie [Register to see the link]
    I do think that I'm beginning to get over it now and part of that involves really examining my values for the first time and deciding on them for myself and not because they are determined by other people. Really exercising choice and not being lazy or passive.
    Me too, that's why I'm here, in a way.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cimmie [Register to see the link]
    BTW, what's Transactional Analysis?
    Well, first let me get defensive and preface by saying that Transactional Analysis (or as the shrinks chummily call it, TA) received a fatal blow to its prestige because of the mass popularity of Eric Berne's books "I'm OK You're OK," "Games People Play" (yep, the title was the inspiration for the idiotic song) and "What Do You Say After You Say Hello?" These are entertaining, parlor-gameish lay guides to TA - I think they all became #1 bestsellers. TA became so (superficially) accessible, its humorous (and I admit, definitely of their time) catchwords instantly becoming infamous as pop-psychology vernacular ("I'm OK..", "warm fuzzies") that it lost its credibility as a dignified theory.

    You may be familiar with it as the parent-adult-child model.

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  8. #8
    laceyjay
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    Quote Originally Posted by laceyjay [Register to see the link]
    Me too, that's why I'm here, in a way.
    Isn't it interesting that we go to a forum on the Innernets, of all places, to ask for help in healing a need for approval? In forums people who are already anxious get HUGELY overinvested... choosing words, phrases, punctuation that create an approvable mask, won't offend others, thread-killer-panic syndrome...much worse than real life

  9. #9
    Cimmie
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    Hmm, they are interesting theories. With a definite seventies flavour I hadn't heard of TA before, but on a brief reading, they seem a little rigid and simplistic to me. We do shift in and out of the three modes, but aren't we also capable of adopting myriad positions and personae, a bit like our physical genetic heritage is made up of millions of jig-saw pieces? Rather than just three. As Walt Whitman wrote: 'I contain multitudes.' Not that I know so much about psychology.

    It does seem more like a belief system than a science. But so was Freud.

  10. #10
    Cimmie
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    Quote Originally Posted by laceyjay [Register to see the link]
    Isn't it interesting that we go to a forum on the Innernets, of all places, to ask for help in healing a need for approval? In forums people who are already anxious get HUGELY overinvested... choosing words, phrases, punctuation that create an approvable mask, won't offend others, thread-killer-panic syndrome...much worse than real life
    I've killed so many threads by now I'm so over it! Lol.

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