The joys of approval seeking.

The following post was  written by Bob P.

“I have observed that many depressives, including me, are given to approval seeking, some more than others. It seems fair to call it a kind of emotional dependency. Little children are completely dependent on their parents or whoever is taking care of them. They have no choice and are helpless. They  better have their parents approval or else.

Some of the children carry this kind of dependency right on into  adulthood, even to their graves unless they do the hard work of unlearning it. They have become so unsure of themselves, their opinions, and thoughts and skills, that they feel an imperative urge to get someone’s approval   that they are doing the right thing and that they are still ok.

When we, the former children, reach physical maturity, we find that people soon resent those who become dependent on them. They often become contemptuous of them -leaners, clinging vines, etc.  We literally drive them away from us with our constant demand for reassurance, hanging onto them, and begging them to throw us a few crumbs of approval now and then. We become fearful of asserting ourselves at all for fear of retaliating  such as outright ridicule, not being given a seat around the campfire, the doghouse, prolonged silent treatment, or stopping cooking, etc.  How can we avoid this treatment? Please them  more, of course?  Hardly. That brings only more contempt.

What will become of us?  We will spend our lives doing what others want us to do. Not what we want to do. If it gets bad enough, we will have feelings of total worthlessness and  self-loathing. Some will reach the point where they would rather die than to continue lving with that yoke around their neck.

You can free yourself from this fetter, but it’s really tough depending how badly you are addicted. It will take determination and sustained effort. It’s worth it to finally breath the air of freedom. And, you gave it to yourself. Start with a proven self help progam like Depressed Anonymous.

I include some words by Lao Tzu, 500 BC, who wrote the Tao Te Ching.

“Care about people’s approval

and you will be their slave.

Must you value what others value

and avoid what they avoid?

How ridiculous!

When you are content to be simply yourself

and don’t compare or compete

everybody will respect you.”


Bob P., Evansville, Indiana,  is  a  founding  member of  Depressed Anonymous and  one whose  friendship and thinking  I  cherish.  (Hugh S).

This article first appeared in the Spring 1995 issue of The Antidepressant Tablet, (Vol 6. No. 3)

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