Seeking Approval from Others Hurts Your Self-Esteem

February 28, 2018 Sam Woolfe

Seeking approval from others and relying on their opinions to build your self-esteem is dangerous and unhealthy. Visit HealthyPlace to learn why determining your worth on your own is healthier than seeking approval from others.

The habit of seeking approval from others can destroy your self-esteem. When people around you are concerned that you have low self-esteem or that you always harshly criticise yourself, they will want to point out all of your likable characteristics and virtues. These comments may come from a place of care and support and may be just what you need to snap out of negative self-talk. However, there is also a risk of relying on these self-esteem boosts from others in order to feel good about yourself. If you want to gain and maintain a stronger form of self-esteem, it’s vital to determine your own self-worth and to stop seeking approval from others.

The Risks of Seeking Approval from Others

If you want your self-esteem to consistent and reliable, then it shouldn’t have to depend on what other people are saying and doing. When you don’t see for yourself the value you have, you will always need to seek outside confirmation of why you have worth. This dependency makes your self-esteem inconsistent and unreliable since even loved ones may say nice things about you one day and more critical things about you another day.

A lot of the time, these criticisms are not an accurate reflection of you but a projection of whatever the other person is struggling with. But if seeking approval from other people is your primary source of self-esteem, then it can be difficult to realize this and not let judgemental comments get you down.

On the other hand, you may have family members and friends who tend to shower you with undue praise and exaggerated positive comments. This kind of response comes from a well-meaning, well-intentioned place. However, the outcome is not always in your best interest, especially if it engenders self-esteem traps like narcissism and self-obsession.

Furthermore, there are obviously times when loved ones are not available when your self-esteem plummets. You may have moved to a new location, away from your family and friends, or you may lose friends. This doesn’t mean you should refrain from opening up when struggling with heavy, negative thoughts about yourself. This is necessary as a form of self-care. However, it is not always a sufficient method for ensuring that when your conversation with your friend ends that you remain feeling positive about yourself.

How to Stop Seeking Approval from Others

Take Control of Building Self-Esteem

If you really want your self-esteem to remain stable over time, then it’s crucial to confirm your positive qualities in a more independent fashion. This won’t necessarily mean you have to shut everyone out and ignore what your loved ones have to say about you; no one is an island whose worth is solely determined by themselves. Our sense of self-worth will always be somewhat tied to others – relationships and interactions with people are how we express and manifest our positive traits.

Taking into account how you think of yourself and how others think of you is a delicate balancing act. It is not easy. It is a constant learning experience. And your self-esteem will improve when you take more responsibility and autonomy in determining your value when you decide for yourself the trustworthiness of other people’s opinions about you.

How to Take Control of Your Self-Esteem

There are a plethora of options for taking more control in building self-esteem so that you can adopt a more realistic and honest evaluation of yourself. There are different kinds of therapy that can equip you with the insight, techniques, and resources to help with this, as well as various meditative techniques, writing exercises, lifestyle changes and introspection (although be mindful of when this healthy self-awareness crosses over into the negative loop of rumination).

The great thing about taking more control in building self-esteem by not seeking approval from others is that it can help you to realize that you have much more power in changing your life than you previously thought. And this realization, in itself, can be a profound source of self-worth.

APA Reference
Woolfe, S. (2018, February 28). Seeking Approval from Others Hurts Your Self-Esteem, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, May 18 from

Author: Sam Woolfe

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