“One of the motives behind perfectionism is the hunger for approval. As a perfectionist, you have a highly conditional and mostly unfavorable view of yourself, and you strive for approval and validation to feel better about yourself. As an approval-hungry perfectionist, your pursuit of perfection is a foot in the door into somebody else’s mind as you try to peddle your talents and abilities in exchange for others’ approval.” ~ Pavel Somov
One of the perfectionist tendencies from the work of Pavel Somov that hit home for me was my hunger for approval from others. I think because I heard, as a child, that I wasn’t good enough from others that I thought I needed approval from others to prove I was worthy. In the book Present Perfect, Somov shares that perfectionists base their sense of self-worth on others’ thoughts and reactions about them. It is important for perfectionists to acknowledge that they are hungry for the approval from others, because admitting your insecurities is a crucial step towards self-acceptance.
Perfectionists are judgmental of themselves and others. We believe our self-esteem and worth comes from the judgment of ourselves. We are constantly judging ourselves against a standard to determine our worth. I used to think that if I accomplished certain goals, then I was worthy and if I made mistakes or didn’t do things, then I was unworthy. At the end of the day I might have done hundreds of wonderful things, but what stuck in my head were the few things that I judged as being bad or wrong. I based my self-worth on conditions I created, and as a perfectionist I created very high standards.
In order to deal with this hunger for approval from others, we must practice Self-acceptance. Self- acceptance is unconditional love for yourself. When I practice self-acceptance, I know that I am doing the best I can at this moment in this situation. I am no longer comparing myself with some yardstick of what I think I should have done in this situation. When I sought the approval of others I was dependent on others for my self-esteem and I lost my sense of self. Now, I am conscious of what I am doing and I do my best. I no longer seek out praise. I am self-aware. I have come to a comfortable place in life where I know I am valuable even if others don’t value me. I have setbacks from time to time where I catch myself feeling that I am not good enough, but then I return to the present moment and practice self-acceptance.
Do you hunger for the approval from others?
How can you practice more self-acceptance in your life?
Peggy Steffens is an artist and Chopra Certified Meditation Instructor
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