Thank you for reaching out to us about this one. As a hopeless people pleaser, I can 100% relate but I too am trying to live a life unburdened by the expectations of others.
It’s completely natural to seek the approval and validation from others and generally speaking, it can be positive and affirming to get someone else’s approval on everything from career moves to relationships, outfits and beyond but it becomes problematic when we put external validation and the opinions of others above our own feelings and intuitions. This imbalance has only been exacerbated with the advent of Instagram and the social currency of likes, shares and very public validation, so you’re definitely not alone. It feels good to be agreed with, understood and liked but it should never be at the cost of our own beliefs and values. Oh no, no, no.
The million-dollar question is how do you break that cycle and look internally for validation and approval? I guess acceptance is a big part of it: you can’t be all the things to all the people (that would be bloody exhausting) but you can be YOU. Totally and unapologetically.
I don’t know the exact context of your situation, whether you’re finding it difficult to say no to friends for fear of letting people down, or holding back from opportunities because you’re worried about being criticised or disliked but I’d say a good place to start is by listening to you and learning to live life on your terms. What do you think about a certain decision and what’s important for you? Whenever you feel yourself about to reach out to someone else, get into the habit of asking yourself first. There’s nothing wrong with chatting things through with a pal and getting a second opinion but ultimately, it’s your own approval that matters most.
When it comes to your achievements and proud moments, however small, acknowledge them and write them down. Start investing in your self-esteem and figure out a way to get what you need from you instead of other people. Cultivate little healthy habits that allow you to recognise how much you’re thriving in your own lane!
Build a sound sense of self-trust and acceptance and you’ll soon be able to take other people’s opinions with a pinch of salt because ultimately it is your life to live and you can’t go far wrong with following your own heart.
Oh, and lastly – whenever you’re having a bit of a confidence wobble, take a social media break. Comparison is the thief of joy and sometimes we need to take a break from the constant updates from other people’s lives to reconnect with the path we’re on.
Over to you! I hope you can dig deep and learn to be your own cheerleader.
Loads of love,