Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Approval Addiction

The Halo Effect

Are you the kind of person who thinks she's being good (self-sacrificing! angelic!) by cooing over things you hate and sucking up to strangers for tiny morsels of approval? Martha Beck encourages you to hang up your wings.
Causes and Consequences of Approval Prostitution — We approval whores are people who will do anything to get affirmation and acceptance from others. Approval whores like me tend to think that we're being good (saintly! angelic!) when we let others have their way with us in exchange for a hit of praise. The people in our lives are likely to reinforce our sickness, because we'll do pretty much anything to please them, and what's not to love about that?
Here's what: Being dependent on approval—so dependent that we barter away all our time, energy, and personal preferences to get it—ruins lives... -continue here-

Curbing Your Approval Addiction

Clarify Your Own Morality In our world of commingled cultures and traditions, we may confront innumerable moral codes, all different from one another. There is simply no way to gain approval from each of these disparate sources; trying to do so will make you feel even worse. Instead, clearly define your own moral code and then stick to it whether or not others approve. Right now think of something you plan to do during this holiday that you don't want to do: host a boorish guest, send greeting cards to folks you barely know, overspend to the point of serious financial strain. Then pretend that your best friend, rather than you, is the one contemplating this action. What would you say is her moral obligation? Don't think manners; think ethics. Would it be truly immoral for your friend to invite only guests she likes, or send no greeting cards, or buy fewer presents? Take some time figuring out your real beliefs... -continue here-
Getting Approval for Getting Disapproval — One of the best ways to break your dependency on approval is to set up a situation in which the only way to get approval is to get disapproval. When I taught college-level sociology, I used to assign students to choose a social norm they thought was wrong or just plain silly, then deliberately violate it. The more disapproval they got, the higher their grade... -continue here-
Agree to Disagree — When approval whores disagree with others, we react by not reacting. Instead of voicing our real position, we smile, nod, make cheerful mumbling sounds. As a result, everyone from the John Birch Society to the Hells Angels may think we agree with them. Some of us fear that if we begin voicing disagreement, we'll lose our friends and family. If this is true for you—if these people accept you only because you agree with everything they say—they're not friends or family, they're just customers from whom you regularly obtain your favorite drug. This is a thoroughly unhealthy situation... -continue here-

Image: "Eagle Vision / Eagle Woman" by Susan Seddon Boulet

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