How to Stop Relying on Praise From Others and Find Inner Confidence -


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Friday, 30 August 2019

How to Stop Relying on Praise From Others and Find Inner Confidence

I have just realized that my anxiety in life stems from being needy for approval and external validation. How do I begin to correct this? originally appeared on Quora - the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

Answer by Karen Arluck, Clinical Psychotherapist in private practice, on Quora:

“Good help is hard to find”

I refer to this old saying in this case to mean that finding external validation and raising your self-esteem in the form of: people, events, accomplishments, romantic relationships etc., may not only be hard to find, but can also be an unreliable source. Essentially, this very normal craving for positive external feedback that people experience, often leads to feelings of disappointment, hurt, insecurity, anxiety, and/or other potentially negative feelings.

This can even become a type of emotional addiction, where the positive external feedback serves as the “drug”, and longer you take this drug to feel good, the more addicted you become, and higher your tolerance becomes, leading you to need more and more of it to feel the same “high.”

Isn’t it normal to want praise and reassurance from other people?

Yes! The answer is that it is absolutely “normal”. However, just because something is considered “normal” doesn’t mean that it is always a good thing. For some people, this doesn’t cause them any issues. For other people who become more reliant on it, they may find that this pattern brings them more unhappiness than it does rewards, and that they actually have very little control over how the universe around them responds to them.

What do you have control over?

What you do have control over, is the ability to retake the keys to your own happiness and other emotions, which actually comes from inside you, as opposed to from the people or circumstances around you.

How does one retake the keys to their own feelings?

Step 1: Recognize the pattern:

In a sense, if you are still reading this, chances are you are already on your way to this first step. This involves noticing when you may be looking to the people or circumstances around you to give you an emotional pat on the back in order to feel good about yourself. For example: noticing when you’re calling someone and hoping they will tell you that you did a good job on something, hoping someone across the room will “check you out”, etc. It is important to recognize that you are looking to something external to shift your internal emotions.

Step 2: Look inward and ask yourself, “what am I craving right now?”

For example, maybe you are feeling shame about something, and hoping to be reassured by someone else. Perhaps you want to feel connected or loved. Are you looking to feel reassured that you are physically attractive in order to feel better about your appearance or your relevance in some other way? Or you may notice yourself craving another unique feeling.

Step 3: Will doing this action actually give me what I want?

At this step, continue becoming curious about your own experience. Start to think about the following questions:

Is this a person or situation who is capable of really giving you the feeling that you want in a long term way?
Based on your previous experience with this person, how likely are they to do what you are hoping they will do for you emotionally?
How will you feel if they don’t give you what you are searching for? Often people feel much worse when they don’t get this feeling from the other person, and then feeling badly and sometimes becoming resentful towards the other person or situation.

Step 4: Start recognizing this pattern earlier on:

As you do this more, you are likely to begin noticing before you even make that call to the other person (for example), and at that point think about whether you can give yourself permission to feel this way without this other person being the one to “give” it to you. You may decide that this pattern isn’t serving you, and at this point you can practice not looking to those external feedback sources for the good feelings.

Step 5: Give yourself permission to feel good:

Example: Imagine that you just gave a fantastic presentation at work. You are dying to call your friend and colleague to talk about it, and have them tell you how great your meeting was, and hoping they will reinforce your good feelings. However, you are now able to recognize that your friend may be busy with their family this evening, they may sometimes get jealous or secretly competitive with your success, and for these reasons they may disappoint you by not making you feel as good about this as you are hoping they will.

Instead, imagine what it would be like to tell yourself how good you feel about your presentation and what a good job you did. What would it be like to allow yourself to feel good about this, without the reassurance from someone else that it was “ok” or “correct” to feel that way? What aspects of your meeting went well in your mind? What do you feel proud or excited about? Great news- you can feel good about your performance and yourself, without anyone else telling you to!

The point is…

It is a very common trap that people fall into, where they look for external feedback from other people and situations around them in order to feel good about themselves. While this does not become a problem for everyone, when it does become an issue, it is often useful to practice: (1) gaining self-awareness about what you are craving emotionally, (2) recognizing any unhealthy patterns that may not be working for you anymore, (3) learning new ways to feel good that do not heavily rely on external feedback from people around you, and (4) keep practicing until it becomes more automatic. Like any skill, this takes motivation, time, and practice, but the more you do it, the easier and more intuitive it becomes.

This question originally appeared on Quora - the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world. You can follow Quora on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. More questions:

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