Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Approval Addiction

Are you an approval addict? If you answer yes to at least half of the questions below than the chances are pretty good you are.

Do you find yourself often getting hurt by what others say about you?
Do you habitually compare yourself with others?
Do you find yourself getting competitive in the most ordinary situations?
Do you live with a nagging sense that you aren't important enough or special enough?
Are you envious of other people's success?
Do you consistently try and impress others?
Do you worry about someone thinking ill of you?

Approval addiction is something I believe many many people suffer from. I say suffer because when you are an approval addict you are living in bondage--always at the mercy of other's opinions.

From young children in a playground yelling out "Look at me, look at me!" to the adult who glories in being center stage, vast amounts of human behavior, though painstakingly disguised, is simply attempts at showing off. The approval addict will do anything to receive the praise of others and avoid disapproval.

Even lie or shade the truth. How often have you, or I avoided telling the complete truth or shaded it slightly to put ourselves in a better light or to cast blame for something on someone else? After awhile, some people lie so much about who they really are that they end up suffering what some psychologists called "Imposter phenomenon" wherein the actual truth about ourselves and the image we project are incongruent. Often these people go through life with a lurking fear that one day the truth about them will come out.

We all want to be loved, to be liked and to be valued. But when we look to man for that validation, it always ends up skewed and we end up miserable and in bondage. Look at what Paul said about this very topic in 1 Corinthians 4

I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me

How freeing it would be to no longer care what people thought. But how do we do this? How do we overcome this approval addiction?

1. We must get our value and approval from God. There is no other source that will fulfill us. That requires having a personal relationship with him through Jesus, conversing with Him daily, and hearing His voice.

2. Make an attempt to notice when you are about to say something that will draw praises from people or make yourself look good in front of others, and practice keeping your mouth shut.

3. Preform random acts of kindness and giving, such as anonymously giving money to someone in need or giving your time to help someone. And don't tell anyone. Keep it a secret! If you
continue doing this, pretty soon, you'll feel those chains of addiction sliding right off!

Taken from The Life You've Always wanted by John Ortberg.


  1. Ouch. Timely post with some great thoughts and suggestions.

  2. Excellent post and so true. It is not always easy to ignore what others may think or say but I am getting better at it. After all, when all is said and done, only God's approval matters.

  3. Thank you for the post MaryLu. Many times people will say horrible things to me and I let them. I know its not true what they say, but it still hurts me. This is something I could work on. I know the doing random acts of kindness and giving is really easy for me.

  4. A true challenge. It's hard not to focus on trying to get approval from others.

  5. I was first introduced to this concept last year while doing a Bible study of Joanna Weaver's Having a Mary Spirit. I have since begun to overcome this addiction, but it is a constant struggle. Thank you for this reminder of the right track to stay on.

    Julie =)