Applause and approval
So much of what we are doing in this little anthill called life, from achieving goals to being productive to constantly do things that will make us better and greater, is to get approval and praise from others.
We want to be told by our boss, family, friends, coworkers and even strangers on the internet that we are doing great, working hard and looking good. You notice, they all clap for you when you achieve X, Y and Z so that’s what you have to do… right?
Why we need constant approval
We think that if just enough people tell us that we are doing great and that we are good enough, then we might start believing it ourselves. The main reason you so desperately need others to give you praise and approval, is because you are not getting it from yourself.
But here’s the thing: If you aren’t cheering for yourself and if you deep down don’t believe that you are good enough, others compliments don’t make a difference to your self-worth. Instead you either consciously or sub consciously deflect others approval:
“She is just saying that to be nice”
“Anyone could have done that”
“They just don’t know how it really is”
It’s a pointless and exhausting game to constantly seek validation from others, because even when you finally get a compliment – it doesn’t hit home for you.
(If you don’t get support from family and friends, this blog post is for you!)
The struggle of perfectionism
If you’re a perfectionist like myself, you absolutely H-A-T-E listening to anyone telling you about praising and approving yourself and how to love yourself. It’s itching everywhere when anyone is telling you to remember to “celebrate the small steps” or “cheering for yourself”.
Cause what’s the point of that, when I know that I can do better and be better and achieve more all the time? A perfectionist wants to hear about productivity, time management, how to achieve goals and take advantage of every second of the day. Because in our perfectionist-opinion THAT is the way to feel good enough. If I can just do all these things on my to-do-list, then people will clap for me, and I can feel that I am okay.
Value your own opinion
Instead of outsourcing your happiness and all your needs, what would happen if you tried to see how many of them you could take care of on your own?
What happens if you tell yourself what you wish you mom, dad, friends, boss, or strangers said to you? If you can talk negatively to yourself all the time, you can talk positively to yourself. If you can encourage your friends, you can encourage yourself.
If your love language is Words of Affirmation and you love hearing that you are doing a great job from your significant other, it can be draining to be with someone who doesn’t use words to express their love.
I was dating a guy who wasn’t good with words and I hated myself for how much I always tried to make him say what I wanted to hear. I was fishing desperately for him to tell me that I was good enough, instead of taking that short cut to happiness and just telling it to myself.
It feels f*cking weird to praise ourselves
Personally, I always get a little tired when someone tells me to “just stop doubting yourself” or “just stop being insecure”.
I don’t know about your brain, but my brain doesn’t work like that. You can’t just turn thoughts and feelings off like a light switch. HOW do you focus on stopping a thought? It’s like saying: “Don’t think about a big blue elephant in a ballerina skirt” – Well, now you’re thinking of that big blue bastard, aren’t you?
It’s easier to focus on starting something. Currently, you are probably giving yourself close to zero praise and approval, so this following task should be easy to start.
Overthinking? I’m sure this blog post is for you!
Approval – The Toothbrush Method
Twice a day, I have time to work on solving this issue with myself. When I’m brushing my teeth. Every single time I’m brushing my teeth I’ve made it a habit to look at myself in the mirror and start a little chit-chat in my head. I tell myself all the reasons I am proud of myself.
Not gonna lie – it felt stupid in the beginning. I’m usually very hard on myself, so taking a moment to do this was terrifying:
“I am proud of how I showed up today even though I didn’t feel like it. I am a hard worker.”
“I am proud of how I did something uncomfortable today. I am brave.”
“I am proud of how I reached out to my friend who’s going through a hard time. I am empathetic”
Just for 4.5 minutes, while you brush your teeth.
Dealing with overwhelm? This blog post will give you tools to overcome it!
Praise yourself for qualities NOT results
When we do this, we want to praise courage, effort, sympathy and the process. NOT just results. Instead of:
“You are amazing because you got an A+ on that test”
“I am proud that I worked really hard on improving my math skills”.
If you only praise yourself for accomplishments, we are back to square 1. If you tell yourself that you are only amazing when you win, you’ll feel like sh*t every time you don’t. And since losing is such a huge part of life – praise your qualities and how you show up instead – I swear, you’ll be way more emotionally stable.
When you’ve done the toothbrush excercise enough times, giving yourself more credit will be easier, since you have practiced to recognize your own qualities. Then you start to actually believe these things about yourself. And when you start valuing your own opinion, the game simply just changes.
In the end
When you start believing in yourself, you feel empowered. When you feel empowered, you perform better. When you perform better people will praise and approve you 10 x more. You’ll believe in the qualities that they see in you, because you see them in yourself. But most importantly: what they say doesn’t change how you feel, because deep down you know that you are good enough, no matter what they say.
“1 million likes means nothing if you don’t like yourself. ”
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