Home > relationships > Confessions of an approval addict

Confessions of an approval addict

Do you know the haunting, nagging feeling of self-doubt?   You know, that feeling of fear that floods your soul when you’re about to do something; whether small or big?  That emotion that paralyzes you as you find yourself in the midst of performing a task?  The constant questioning and over-analyzing after your complete?   I hate to admit, but this is where I’ve lived the last year.   Wait, who am I kidding?   This has been in my shadow my whole life.

I’m just going to spit it out right from the start that some crazy part of me loves being a “poster child”.  You know, those annoying ones who can do no wrong, or the one the boss loves.  Yup, I LIKE being one of those.  I know, it makes me sick too.

Even when I was very young, I cared about what my parents thought of me and wanted so badly to please them.   I remember being 4 years old thinking; “TODAY, I’m not going to get into trouble”, and I honestly put in my best effort not to…. but as you may have guessed, I got in trouble for something EVERY DAY.   Each day I tortured myself to “perform” well, thus I always ended up being greatly disappointed in myself.

My dad’s British form of motivation (at the time) was to tell me how stupid I was, hoping I would prove him wrong.  Instead, I wallowed in hopelessness and vowed to prove him right.   I remember him saying to me; “You look three months pregnant”, hoping to encourage me to lose some weight.  Instead, I spiraled down further (or should I say “up”).

I’ve noticed other moments in my life where I “fell short” of my parents, a teacher’s, a boss’s expectations and it almost destroyed me.   Each time I seemed to fall into a dark hole of deep shame and remorse.  To my detriment, I have at times believed things spoken to me that were harsh and damaging, just because I respected the source it was coming from.  It would then take years to be convinced of the truth.

As of late, I have been seeing this manifest itself more.   From constant questioning of my ability to be a mom (who hasn’t been there, right?), to ability to think things through properly and not see major fall-out (DETAIL is not my forte.  I paint pictures not processes!).  To questioning every move I make –  It’s been very “in-my-face” lately because God wants to bring it to my attention to deal with.  Its an incredibly damaging place to live.  If you’ve been there, you can relate.

Recently I was leading worship at my church, and even before we started, I wanted to run off stage and lock myself in the bathroom.  I jokingly mentioned leading worship from behind the curtain.  That particular Sunday, I was serious.  Even during the singing, it was a fight to not bolt out the back door.   When all was finished, all I could think of after was how much I wanted to go home in fear of facing people at the end.

What kind of ridiculous, stupid, tormenting, awful kind of thinking is that?!  You may not guess that from me, but the difference between me and some others is that I’ll push through when I’m feeling that way, but I’m FEELIN’ it!!

It was that Sunday I felt God’s voice speak to me saying: “It’s time for you to stop being an addict to validation.  There are things I’m calling you to do in different times in your life when you’ll need to be rid of it”.  Can I dare say this is no different for anyone?   Everything God calls any of us to do, we cannot be bound to begging for approval.

The problem is, our worth is often formed by how we view ourselves, and how we THINK others view us.  When we allow others opinions to form our value, we’re in trouble.    The problem with those like me, is that when we become successful (which we strive for), we can become driven for the validation that comes with it.  With that, comes the pressure to maintain that success, along with the validation.   This was a problem for me in ministry.  “Success” was easy for me, but when being validated took me over, it was a hard fall.  To this day, I’m still recovering.  What happens when you fall?   Not only is validation taken away, but the respect and dignity you craved so deeply.

“If we base our worth on the approval of others then we are actually saying that our ability to please others is of greater value than Christ’s payment” (Robert McGee)

To look for approval from others is to live a life that is never satisfied. “The basic need of each person is to regard himself as a worthwhile human being” (Lawrence Crabb Jr.).

HOW?   How do we move away from basing our worth on the approval of others and meeting our basic need to feel “worthwhile”?   I’ve been discovering time again (most times the hard way), that its only through Christ.   Seriously, just try anything else and you’ll come up empty every time.   It’s choosing in those moments to believe what He says is truth, no matter what tricks your mind wants to play on you, AND choosing to do what He asks…. no matter what.

Addiction to approval says “what’s wrong with me?”

Living free from it says “I am loved and accepted”

Addiction to approval can’t take constructive criticism

Living free from it is teachable and can separate constructive criticism from taking it to heart

Addiction to approval can’t separate truth from a reaction

Living free from it has enough self-awareness rooted in God to know when something said needs to be tossed aside.

Addiction to approval bases worth on others

Living free from it bases worth on God alone

Easier said than done.  It’s about the journey.  Will you journey with me?  I believe it’s worth it.

Categories: relationships
  1. Wendy
    July 5, 2011 at 4:09 pm

    Thanks for sharing, Connie, And hey, any Sunday morning you’re feeling that way, come find me. I’ll pray with you. And speak truth to your soul. You are loved! ~Wend.

  2. July 6, 2011 at 6:52 pm

    WOW. Exactly what I needed to hear today. Thank you for sharing your heart it hit so close to home for me. I appreciate your candidness.
    -From a fellow Approval Addict!

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