Irrational Belief #1: Needing Love & Approval

Posted on December 13, 2010


Adults do not need love and approval. (Children are a different story. But we’re all adults here so let’s talk about what adults do and do not need).

Love and approval are nice to have, especially when we’re talking about that special someone. I don’t think I have to twist your arm too much to get you to agree that it’s pretty wonderful to have a person you’re really interested in really interested in you. To garner the love and approval of someone whom you love is one of the greatest joys in life.

And yeah, when you announce to the significant members of your life that you’re committing to this special someone, it feels great to have their approval and support. It’s nice when your friends and family lovingly welcome into their hearts the person you love and treat him/her as a valued person.

It’s nice, but it’s. not. necessary. It’s not even required for your happiness. And as long as you think it is, you’ll be participating in the number one Irrational Belief: That in order to be happy, one must gain the love and approval of everyone whom one designates as significant.

Of course it sucks when the person you’ve been dying to ask out forever turns you down. Of course it feels awful when your friends or family don’t approve of your romantic choices. But how long you fester in this feeling of yuckiness really is your choice.

The belief that you must obtain other’s love and approval  is irrational because it places the responsibility of your happiness onto other people.

As long as you’re letting other people dictate whether or not you can be happy, you don’t have control over your own happiness. And to believe that you don’t have control over your happiness is, well, irrational.

Other people can’t be trusted with your happiness. That’s something you have to take responsibility for, all on your own.

Just think about it for a bit. How many times a month, a week, a day actually, do you wait for someone else to give you love and approval in order to feel happy?

You probably do it quite a bit. And it’s irrational. For several reasons:

1. To demand that everyone whom you love must love and approve of you (and all of your choices) is an unattainable goal. There will always be someone who doesn’t want to give you their love and approval. There will always be at least one person who disapproves of you for reasons beyond your control (ie: the color of your skin or your eye color).

2. If you think that you need other’s love and approval in order to be happy, you will be constantly concerned about not having it, or not having enough of it. So even if you do manage to get the love and approval of those whom you feel are significant to you, because you believe that you need it, you will start to worry about it being taken away. Constant state of worry or anxiety= you  being not very happy.

3. If you think that you need someone else’s love, that means that in order to get someone else’s love, you must always be acting lovable. And let’s face it. How many of us always act lovable? Exactly. In order to be human, there will be times when you will be downright difficult to be with. If you think that you need someone else’s love, you won’t be acting like a real human being. You’ll be too busy trying to fake lovability. Ugh.

4. If you believe that you need other’s approval, that means you’ll spend your time and energy doing things that they think are worthy and you’ll be ignoring your own goals and values. You won’t be living your own life. The quickest way to an unhappy life is to not be true to what-and who-you know is best for you.

5. The greater your perceived need for love, the less people will tend to love and respect you. Trust me on this one. It’s one of the great ironies of life. It’s human nature to grow tired and bored with someone who consistently caters to your needs and people will grow tired of you. By pretending that you don’t have any of your own needs, others will unconsciously start to disrespect you and act accordingly.

6. Love is a two-way street. If you are so concerned with obtaining the love and approval of someone else, you’re slipping into a self-centered state where you think only about the love and approval you need. You sabotage any relationship where you are focused only on your needs.

7.  Believing that you need someone else’s love and approval is usually a cover-up for the uncomfortable feeling of worthlessness. As long as you think you need love and approval and focus your attention on that goal, you’ll be missing out on the opportunity to tackle your feelings of not being good enough. You’ll be distracting yourself from some real personal growth.

After all of these examples and explanations, hopefully now you clearly see why this is an irrational belief. In my next post, I’ll walk you through a coaching tool I’ve developed (from Ellis’s work and research) in order to help you dissolve this belief and live more rationally.

Posted in: Thought Work