Monday, April 21, 2008

Approval addiction - signs

One of the areas in my life I have been seeing a great deal of difference is the area of my need for approval from others. I lived a life of approval addiction for many years starting from my school days. One of the ways I dealt with this issue was by being extremely ‘nice’ to others, suppressing my own opinions (though I had opinions) many time due to the fear of rejection. Sometime during my life I have learned to cop with my need to be loved and accepted by pleasing others and there by inviting their approval and love. I lacked true character and integrity and I was driven by this deep fear inside me that people would reject me if I don’t live up to their expectations. During my college days I started smoking and drinking alcohol and tried to do some ‘heroic’ things to attract and keep friendship with the ‘like minded’ batch mates. It was my phony attempts to be a ‘cool’ guy. I wasn’t living a life of mine but the life of the impostor in me. Needless to say that none of it really fulfilled my need of approval, love and acceptance; but I wasn’t ready to give up.

These are some of the signs of approval addiction (based on my observation):
  • Heroism
  • Workaholicsm
  • Obsession with the looks - body/outfits etc
  • Pity party
  • Sentimentalism
  • People pleasing
  • Acquiring knowledge – to bluff
  • Developing unlikely skills – to show off
  • Imitating others (movie stars and other celebrities)
  • Acting ‘cool’.
  • Unwillingness to say ‘No’ to others.
  • Perfectionism.
  • Being philosophical but denying religion.
  • Psycho acts – making wounds on their own body etc
  • Body piercing, tattoos and other body decorations and alterations
As I continued my journey in life, the next thing I tried was religion, thinking thats what I was missing in life to have the need for fulfillment. In the religious world, it didn't take much time to figure out that there is no difference and I suspect the cancer of approval addiction is much more evident and worse there. There, we see people diligently looking for other’s (and God’s) approval and fight for important positions in church, sometimes in much worser ways than the secular world. The performance-based religion is nothing but a group of such people. The need to please others comes from our own insecurity, which could be the result of our past physical, emotional, and verbal abuse. People cop with such past wounds in different ways – being ‘nice’, being ‘tough’, substance abuse, self pity, self exaltation, religious etc.

These are some of the signs of approval addiction in the religious world (based on my observation):
  • Self righteousness and personal exaltation
  • Church activities
  • Struggling for positions in church
  • Fasting, public prayers, bumper stickers and other public displays of spirituality
  • Judging others
  • Control and manipulation
  • Perfectionism
  • False humility
  • Self pity – to attract other’s attention
  • Public charity works
  • Acquiring theological/biblical knowledge – to show off
  • Seeking sinless perfection, hypocrisy
  • Being extremely ‘nice’ to others
  • Forming/following false doctrines, cults etc
  • Seeking extra biblical revelations/prophecy
  • Seeking and/or misusing supernatural gifts
Most of us have a healthy need for appreciation from time to time. However, some of us require constant approval from peers, parents, children, friends, church members, pastors, bloggers, superiors, and co-workers. This never-ending desire for human approval can constantly disappoint us and as a result we might live the life of an impostor, trying hard to please others around us (in vain).

In my own life, I have treated my wife differently based on who is around us. For example if my parents are at home, I try to be more tough and serious towards her because I fear if my parents would mistake me as a henpecker if I treat her so nice! This incident convinces me that the issue of approval addiction is a very deep and dangerous problem which can control us and hinder us from living an authentic, real life. Well, God is doing a tremendous work in that area of my life and this post and the following post where I would discuss the root cause of the approval addiction and the solutions based on God’s Word, are my attempt to share what He has done in my own life.

1 comment:

Joel Brueseke said...

The search for approval is most certainly one of those temptations that keeps us from being who we truly are. You've listed some great examples, and in talking about your own life here, I appreciate your honesty!

My desire it to be real and authentic, and to live from Christ's life in me, not from what I think others think I should be. Sometimes *I* don't even know who I am... LOL... so how can I expect to live up to the approval of others!

As I learn and grow and become more and more content in who I am in Christ, and become solidified in Him, I care less about what others think. I mean, as I grow in Him, I find real life and as I grow in this life, I find that I'm naturally who I am and I'm not driven nearly as much to be someone who I'm not. That said, I still have a lot more growing to do! I just mean to make the point that approval addiction is a very serious thing, and just like any other sin, we overcome it as we find ourselves in Him and not in the approval of others.

Looking forward to hearing more about what God is doing in your life in regards to all this!