Growing up as a child, i used to often refuse to talk and would rather listen and absorb conversations around me. Many of my friends and family would often come to me with their problems, saying how i’m such a good listener and great at being present and understanding what they had to say.
While i couldn’t understand why i behaved that way at the time, i realized why as i grew older and became more aware of my flaws and in my motivation to improve.
I was simply too terrified with upsetting people, of being judged or stepping on people’s toes.
It wasn’t until my early to mid twenties that i started to notice it affecting my life. I was unable to socialize with people, i was always in fear of being judged and always wanting to please people due to fear of someone disapproving of me as a person. I was stuck in the ‘nice guy’ trap and it hurt any chance of securing a relationship or sustaining a job.
When nice is too nice
There often comes a point when the qualities of a ‘nice guy’ becomes addictive. People smile at you, give you commendations, praise you and make you feel good. After all, who doesn’t want to feel great by others?
But this often leads to a dangerous path as you begin living life for others and forget about your own happiness. Your sense of self-honesty starts to lessen and begin to develop a big void in yourself due to not being true to yourself.
Through your quest of not wanting to tarnish the ‘nice guy’ image you’ve built for yourself, you refuse to let anyone down or to simply cause any kind of tension.
Why is all of this a detriment to your overall self-confidence?
Being a nice person often results in relying on other people to tell you how great you are. You eventually become unable to create it within yourself because you’re too consumed with being ‘nice’ and to keep getting that positive response from other people in order to make you feel good, rather than acquiring it from yourself.
This is the complete opposite to a person with high self-confidence since a person with self-confidence and self-esteem doesn’t need approval from others or seek acceptance due to already having it with themselves. As a result, they develop honesty with themselves and with others, which causes others to trust and respect them for their authenticity.
While being a nice person isn’t a bad thing. It does require to know your limits and to understand that your overall sense of greatness can only ever come from yourself and not others.
So in order to build self-confidence and self-esteem, we need to break away from approval seeking behavior and to begin consciously forming our own opinions and values that is separate from others.
Of course, this is easier said than done.
So here are 3 ways to avoid approval seeking behavior and to begin helping you speak up with honesty and authenticity.
1) Learn to say ‘no’
In order to start respecting yourself and your values. You need to consciously get used to saying no and disagreeing with others. This will seem counter intuitive at first since you may have gotten used to agreeing with everything people say and not rattling anyone’s feathers.
But over time, you will begin feeling more secure in yourself, develop more self respect and ultimately gain the respect of others due to communicating in a non needy vibe and not relying on anyone for happiness or approval.
Practical Applications: Take part in a few debate classes, which will force you to talk in an objective manner and to learn to speak your own mind. This will eventually spill into your every day communication, which will aid you greatly moving forward.
2) Know what your true values are and stick to it
If you do not know what to expect from your world, you will always be open for manipulation and being treated by others in ways you may not like or appreciate.
Building and sticking to values will give you a sense of self-respect and will communicate your standards with others, which will reflect how they should behave when they’re around you.
This is the cornerstone to understanding self-confidence because it takes strength and security in oneself to attract people who are equally the same and who show the same feelings towards you. And you do this by having values and filtering the right people into your life over time.
Practical Applications: Write down a list of qualities you expect from people, your life and your external surroundings and begin internalizing those qualities in yourself. Over time, you will begin seeing these things manifest in the real world due to the type of person you become.
3) Don’t be afraid to be yourself around others
While the concept of ‘being yourself’ is a cliche term, it can’t be emphasized enough since it links very heavily to approval seeking and in trying to go with the times in order to avoid being labelled an outcast.
The truth is, all of us are different and have our own unique characteristics in terms of what makes us who we are. All of us have different tastes, beliefs, thoughts and world views. It therefore stands to reason that in order for others to know who you are, you must not be afraid to express that part of you clearly and with no shame.
Practical Applications: Practice wearing clothes that you’re personally comfortable with and not because it’s fashionable. It will seem alien at first due to looking different from everyone else. But this will (over time) help you develop a care free attitude and stop caring what other people think about you, which will help with expressing yourself with confidence.
For an overview of finding about yourself and discovering your true potential, check out my FREE YOU 2.0 video course where i go through the steps to overcoming your fears and getting past your mental barriers that is stopping you from living the life you want.
photo credit: Skley