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. http://www.girlsgonewise.com/approvaholics-anonymous/
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.