I read somewhere that we don’t really care too much about what society thinks. Mostly, there is a dominant figure in our life whom we desperately try to impress. We sort of believe that most people in the world this like this person and hence we try really hard to seek approval from the society.

We come to this world with a lot of trust. We trust that we will be given love and care by our parents. We trust that no matter what happens, our parents will protect us. We trust that the world will be good to us. In a way, trust is our default setting. But sometimes, we are hurt. It doesn’t matter who hurts us, what’s more important is that the trust is broken. It goes without saying that trust is the core of our survival. We might trust Science and buy medicines instead of praying to God but can we be sure that the medical shop that has sold the medicine to us has good intentions? Rationally speaking, we cannot trust the medical shop because we don’t even know the people who are working there. But imagine suspecting each and everything in the world. We cannot even travel from our home to our workplace if we don’t have a reasonable amount of trust in the person who is taking us to our desired destination. Forget workplace…you cannot even live in a house if you don’t trust the builders, the architect and everybody else who built your house!

Developing this trust is very important in childhood. Babies are very sensitive and vulnerable. If anything goes wrong, they develop fear and mistrust. When a child grows up in a competitive environment when he is compared with siblings and other kids, he thinks that this is the way the whole world is. When he becomes an adult, he will try to impress everybody he meets without realizing that unconsciously, he is trying to impress the parent or that adult who withdrew love from him or the bully who made him feel inadequate. If you are one of those who seeks attention from people around you or obsesses about being famous, then there is a good chance that your competition is not “out there” in the world but actually somebody who was very near to you in the childhood: in most cases, it is sibling or the kids your parents or teachers or relatives compared you with.

It is possible that those who desperately try to get approval actually believe that the whole world thinks like that person who withdrew his/her love from them. They believe that the whole world will judge them the way that person has judged them in the past. Everything they do is ultimately for that person. Sometimes, they even end up with partners or friends who are like that person who hurt them…sometimes, they are in abusive relationships..not because they are masochists but simply because they have an unconscious desire to impress that person.

If you are an approval seeking person then it might be a good idea to observe if the way you look at people or your own self is the way that person (or group) looked at you. In a way, it is liberating because you atleast know that you are looking at your life and people through colored glasses i.e. through this person’s eyes. Realizing that not everybody thinks like this person can free you from the prison. Realizing that you are seeking attention from strangers, but merely trying to get love that you needed in the childhood would make you feel less ashamed.

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3 thoughts on “Childhood, trust and approval-seeking behavior

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