When you work hard, it is nice to be recognised for your efforts. You want others to express their approval. There is nothing wrong with wanting others to approve of your work, in fact, it is quite healthy. When it becomes a need for approval, you have problems. Not only do you want their approval; you fear their disapproval. Every decision you make and each action you take is shaped by your need to gain and maintain their approval. It’s bad enough when you need the approval of one or two people but when you live your life in need of the approval of everyone, for even the smallest acts, you are in real trouble. You are destined for a life of confusion, frustration and disappointment. The key to avoiding these issues is to become comfortable with accepting disapproval.  Disapproval is a natural part of life, and accepting disapproval from others is a healthy behaviour.

Those who fear the disapproval of others are no longer driven by what they believe to be right. Instead, they are motivated by what they believe others want them to do, think or believe. They are willing to abandon their own views, dreams and plans for life, to be guided by the needs and wants of those from whom they seek approval. They value the opinions of others more than their own and where there is disagreement, they will concede in order to retain approval. Accepting disapproval is not an option for them. Disapproval would leave them feeling empty and hopeless.

Accepting the disapproval of others does not have to be a painful experience. There are 4 principles which you can use to help you make it a liberating experience.

4 Principles for accepting disapproval

When someone disapproves of your opinions/behaviour, you can use the following 4 principles to determine the right course of action – accepting disapproval or changing your opinion/ behaviour:

1. Where 2 different opinions exist, it does not automatically follow that one is right and the other is wrong.

This principle encourages a proper assessment of both opinions. When you refuse to see them as competing opinions you can really weigh up the positives and negatives. You can see that there is no best way; just a way which is best for you. This allows you to be open to the opinions of others as well as respecting your own opinion.

 2. Your opinion/behaviour must be consistent with your identity

Your identity is the person you wish to be. It is based on the values and principles you hold most dearly. The values and principles which you wish to live by. Your opinions and behaviour must not contradict these values and principles.

 3. Your opinion/behaviour must be consistent with your purpose

Your purpose is the way in which you want to serve the world. You may want to be an educator, a peacemaker, an entertainer etc.; the options are endless. Whatever your purpose, it is important that your opinions or behaviour do not contradict that purpose.

 4. Your opinions/behaviour must not deliberately seek to hurt others

It is natural that some people will disapprove of your opinions and your behaviour. There will be times when some people feel disappointed by your choices. It is impossible to please all of the people, all of the time. It is, however, important that you are not motivated by a desire to inflict suffering on others.

Accepting disapproval is not to be feared. Accepting disapproval is not a painful experience, it is a liberating experience. It reminds you of the value of your own opinions, goals and dreams. The next time you find yourself doubting your own opinions/ behaviour, due to the disapproval of others, use the 4 principles to help you determine the best course of action for you to take.  If you find that you are being inconsistent with your identity or purpose, or you are deliberately seeking to hurt others then you may need to change your behaviour. However, if you are confident that you that you are being consistent with your identity and purpose, you are not deliberately hurting others and your opinion/behaviour is valid; then sticking to your guns and accepting disapproval from others is the way to go.


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