Sometime in early 2011, I stumbled on an article by Katie Mc Koy that made me take a pretty deep look at myself and make significant adjustments. Before reading it, I had never spent much time thinking of myself as someone who particularly worried about the approval of others. However, by the time I was done reading, I was convinced that I was a budding ‘approvaholic’ and needed to check into rehab.

“Approvaholic”  is a term that refers to people who have an excessive need for approval and I remember reading an article which pointed out that if you simply must have two or three strong approvals by others to get through a day, you are on your way to becoming an “approvaholic.” At the time, I was slowly and steadily headed there.

Approval isn’t a bad thing, like most things, it can be good or bad. For instance, food is necessary for healthy living, as consuming healthy portions can keep you alive and well, but it can be abused and when consumed in excess, it can lead to gluttony. Same way, approval is a part of encouragement, although it is hardly the entire package of encouragement. But when approval becomes an idol or the entire object of your actions, you are well on the way to becoming an approvaholic.

When we base our self-worth on how people treat us, or on what we believe they may think about us, we become addicted to their approval. That is unhealthy. We do not have to be approved by people or feel needed to build our self-worth. No matter how hard we work to please people and gain acceptance, there will always be someone who disapproves of us. When we fail to acknowledge that, we may be tempted to make decisions that hurt our consciences just to win the approval of others. That in itself is bondage.

Being an approvaholic also left me insecure, constantly comparing myself with others and thinking about what more I needed to do to win approval. More often than not, it was unconscious and I thought of myself as somewhat who was was just happy to make others happy. That was not the problem, it was the excessive need to make others happy or gain their approval that was unhealthy. However, I came to understand that insecurity was Satan’s attempt to get me focused on myself instead of being focused on God. I found that the more intimate I got with God, and the more I focused on Him, the less insecure I felt. And as I moved farther away from acting based on my feelings or how people felt about me to acting based on faith in the finished work of Jesus on the Cross, I gained more freedom from the shackles of ‘approvaholism’.  I know for a fact that I am accepted in the beloved.

Some excerpts of Katie’s piece rang true for me and I have reproduced them here

At the heart of a woman who is afraid of disappointing others is the belief that she can make everyone happy with her. Underneath the fear of saying no, letting someone down or falling short of a goal, is the lie that she can fulfill people’s expectations, do things the right way or achieve outer perfection. In fact, when we boil it down to the condition of the heart, feeding the approval addiction is just another modern-day idol.

God is far more pleased with an obedient heart that fears Him than the pretense of having it all together. When you start living to please your Heavenly Father rather than the of the approval of others, your time, your priorities and your heart-motivation will start lining up with His will. You may not be able to meet others’ expectations, but you will be honoring God.”

Please, take a minute to read the remainder of this article titled  “Approvaholic Anonymous” by Katie Mc Koy here.

If you are like me from ‘before before’, paying too much attention to how people respond to you and overly watching faces to see if they approve or disapprove of what you are saying or doing then you need to check into rehab like I did. The word of God is our rehab.

In the words of Joyce Meyer, “Get up every day, love God, and do your best. He will do the rest! Remember, God is not surprised by your inabilities, your imperfections, or your faults. He has always known everything about you that you are just now finding out, and He chose you on purpose for Himself. Jesus will present you blameless and faultless to God, if you place your trust in Him (See 1 Corinthians 1:7–8).”

Never forget that you are loved and accepted by the only one whose opinion counts in eternity. Count on it.



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  1. I used to be an approvaholic until I got burnt and scarred by being one. It was painful to grow up feeling alone and different from the crowd so I constantly sought their approval but I realised that the more I tried, the more I was becoming what I was not to please people who were never going to accept me anyways. Hence, I stuck to myself. God came much later for me and it was then my aloneness had meaning. I am still a heavy loner and like you said, we all need to feel accepted and I have such times but how I’ve grown from that person to the point that when I get the approval I don’t seek, it scares me. In today’s world, it’s scary how people seek these things.
    Eloxie, thanks for reminding us of where our focus ought to be

    1. Thanks for sharing Sally, I can relate with your experience. We all need approval yes, it gives us a sense of meaning but I’m glad we can talk about the unhealthy dependence on approval in the past tense and move forward to building our individuality. I am also glad we are growing to rely on God alone as our source of approval and security. I’m thankful for you, in a time when people wear out their consciences to just avoid rejection, your comment is very encouraging. God’s approval is all we need.

  2. Yeah. A desire for approval is a human condition. Fortunately for us, we are not called to be human. We are called to be more.

    I like this – a reminder of what we should be. Pastor Poju Oyemade says that if anyone can conquer the need for approval, he/she is a a free person or words to that effect. I agree.

    Thank you for sharing.

    1. Thank you Seun. I loved this, “Yeah. A desire for approval is a human condition. Fortunately for us, we are not called to be human. We are called to be more.” And Pastor Poju was spot on in his statement. I’ve learned that God is never fazed by statistics, if he was he wouldn’t have destroyed the entire world save for Noah and his family. However, approval derives from more people accepting us. Walking with God requires us to take a contrarian position oftentimes, and to do that, we need to overcome the ‘need’ for approval. We are truly called to be more, to be people who seek approval from God alone.

  3. This was great Eloxie. A lot of the time we’re seeking people’s approval when the person to ultimately look up to is God. You can’t please everyone, u can’t make everyone happy. Just do right by God and by your conscience. O tan!

    1. Thanks dear. You put it together very nicely.
      And if our ultimate desire is to make God happy, that’s all that counts.
      that decision automatically displeases some people so it will be foolish to try and please them alongside.
      “Do right by God and your conscience”. That’s ALL.

  4. I’m a very self confident person. From time to time though I get hit by bouts of self-doubt characterised by an increased need for approval. Even in the most mundane things. And you’re right it takes the focus away from God and magnifies my ‘shortcomings.’ Me.

    1. My dear Jite, I know right? From the self confident comes the deepest self doubt characterised by this need for approval. I found out that just admitting that I could never be perfect or all things to all men freed me. I realise i was never perfect in the first place and to expect to get approval all the time means I am indirectly setting myself up to fail. I am yet learning and as I keep focusing on the mirror of God’s word and seeing all the beautiful things He keeps doing in me, I am content and my motives are right. Besides, too many people pleased God outside of people’s approval. If my focus is on pleasing people, how am I a servant of God? (Gal. 1:10)

  5. What really jumped out at me was “Underneath the fear of saying no, letting someone down or falling short of a goal, is the lie that she can fulfill people’s expectations,”
    That’s so true. I’m an approvoholic as well. I just never realized that at the base of it was a lie that I WAS capable of fulfilling other’s expectations. I can’t. and I shouldn’t need to. It’s God that grants favor and he doesn’t need me to be loved by men. He needs me to love him.

    that said. It’s so hard ! How do we stop from being such approvoholics?

    1. Hi dear, I believe that resting in the fact that it is God that works in us both to will and do of His pleasure saves us from relying on self. We cannot fulfill people’s expectations, some No’s are necessary, falling short of a goal can be a part of our journey. Oftentimes, the act itself is great o! maybe volunteering for more or always being there for another person, but the motive is wrong. When the motive is to gain approval, then the approval has become an idol. Something about Ananais and Saphirra just jumped out at me as per approval addiction. They wanted to be approved by the apostles for giving all. Nothing was wrong with giving a portion, but their need for approval and commendation made them lie and made God angry. God requires of us what we can willingly give, so no man should demand more. No man’s approval should require me to do more than I am able to do by God’s grace. So as i concern myself more with pleasing God above others, I receive freedom to say NO more firmly when I am required to, I receive grace to take the path less travelled when God needs me to without worrying about other people understanding or approving. Believe me, it is freedom. But it is one step at a time. Reading Joyce Meyer’s book “Approval Addiction” also helped and I recommend it.

    1. My dear, I can totally relate with your comments and I love your sincerity.
      You CANNOT always be there for everyone, especially when you are bending over backwards to just gain approval. No, No, No.
      We can do all through Christ who strengthens us and when we are depending on our strength to have someone’s commendation, it is burdensome and unprofitable. First, we get no reward for anything we don’t give willingly and we will never ever make everyone happy with us.
      I support you, come on, let us check into rehab, have our mindsets reconfigured by the word.
      It is all about God and God’s approval and His commandments are not grievous.
      I celebrate you dear! Welcome to Christ’s freedom.

  6. Yh
    I’m done lying and deceiving people that I’ll always be dere for them
    I’m getting into my *rehab*
    And operate on being able to help when I *can*
    Thanks for sharing

    1. Thank you sir.
      I’m glad it blessed you. I agree, men too can suffer from ‘Approvaholism’, all human’s have the need for approval, it is the unhealthy levels that require us to check into rehab. God bless you.

  7. *inhale….exhale*
    Yes, Isaac. Even us men are victims of this. It affects us everywhere and in everything we do. I have experienced this in ministry (a LOT). I reckon thAt it’s easier to not fall prey to approvaholism in the simpler mundane things. But in the church, the workplace (school inclusive), we get it a lot. I would know what I was to say to someone or do in a situation, but weighing that against their response to what they’d rather have, I would cower. I had to rely on God for help! Glad I diD

    1. Thank you dear, this is very sincere. It truly is easy to fall prey in the every day tasks.
      What worries me is that oftentimes, good things done in pursusance of the favourable response/ approval of men don’t get God’s reward. God checks our motives.
      So why would I bother? What can a man ultimately do for me that i would put ahead of God? Approvaholism blocks me from seeing past the present.
      Sometimes, just weighing what the response of the other party would be makes us take a decision we shouldnt have. We say no more! We will rely on only God’s approval and this will not make us less compassionate. It will just make us depend on God’s opinion alone and we are better off for it.

  8. I hurt myself a lot, & sometimes others in this approvaholic-marathon. In the church, I have succumbed to it a lot when dealing with people or working with them. I’d put their ‘favorable response’ ahead of God’s glory. I felt “if I get em to respond well, I’ve done well enough”. How stupid!
    This later got me into a relationship I had no business in. I argued with the holyghost a whole lot until he reduced his voice.
    Summary… I woke up from that slumber, relied on God & I am better off for it. 🙂

  9. Excellent
    I outgrew it a while back
    but sometimes I find myself slipping back
    It is at those times I speak words of affirmation
    to myself.

    Good article.
    YOu can’t move forward if you believe what others say
    above what God says about you.

    1. Thanks dear…very true, “YOu can’t move forward if you believe what others say above what God says about you”. GBAM! That’s all.

  10. there is no substitute for God’s ‘i love you and i alone approve of you’ in our lives. We must affirm it daily, per second). Tessa’s nailed it: God has said, we gotta re-say(twéet) same to ourselves, and every other voice will be silenced.

    1. There truly is no substitute for God’s approval. We must be able to continuousy say “God loves me unconditionally, and He is pleased with me. I am accepted in the beloved and my approval is not premised on my action, God’s grace speaks”. When I was yet without strength, Christ died for me.

  11. What gets me all the time is that we carry this same need for approval from men, and translate it to our relationship with God. We strain and make effort to live for God’s approval as if we can earn it. smh. Newsflash: we’ll never earn it, and we’ll never get it by trying to earn it.
    1 John 4: 10- 19, “this is love, not that we loved Him, but that HE loved us…16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us…. 17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus.”

    At the end of the day, Martha never really knew Jesus though she kept striving for His approval and getting exhausted from her striving. But Mary, Mary will be preached wherever the Gospel goes; cos she “knew and depended on the Love Jesus had for her”. We see the Peter that bragged on his love for Jesus and yet denied Him at the Cross, but we see the John that bragged on Jesus’ love for Him and how he stood at the cross when Jesus needed Him most.

    God bless you sis, thank you tons for this reminder that we should celebrate His love and approval, which is unconditional because of Jesus. xxx

    1. Thanks sis for this lovely reminder. When we focus on Jesus instead of gaining approval for men, it is His grace we see for He loved us and approved us ahead of anything we could ever do. We will never earn God’s approval, we are pre approved, accepted in the beloved. This is love, not that we loved Him, but that HE loved us…God bless you dear.

  12. WOW!
    I so needed to read things! The funny aspect of this approvalholic syndrome is that most time you intentionally do not want to think about it, but somehow its already in your subconscious. I am most certainly guilt of this and now i know ” its time to look up to the one whose opinion counts in eternity.”
    Thank you so much Aunty Eloho (what a wonderful message to end my birthday week)!
    God bless you *Virtual bear hug*

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