Secretly seeking people's approval

Postby HeyJKiefer » Tue Jan 10, 2017 4:48 pm

Hello all,

My name is Jonathan. I have a personal issue that I hope those of you here can help me with.

First just a little bit about me. I'm 28. Live in Texas. Married with no kids. I work as a testing engineer.

My issue is that I really struggle with decision making. I constantly announce to others my decisions before acting in order to get their approval before proceeding. If they don't object to my decision, I go about it; if they object, I'm rather easily persuaded to change my mind.
I'm noticing this more and more in my life. What can I do to have more confidence in my own choices without looking to others for approval first? Do anyone else struggle with this?
Any feedback is greatly appreciated.

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Postby Richard@DecisionSkills » Tue Jan 10, 2017 5:55 pm

HeyJKiefer wrote: What can I do to have more confidence in my own choices without looking to others for approval first?

Deliberate practice.

Decision-making is a skill set a person can learn, same as critical thinking or problem solving. You learn through practice, going from simple to more complex decisions. As an engineer you most certainly already have a number of decision-making models or frames you already use in your field. Learn them, apply them, develop and practice them. This will build your confidence.
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Postby HeyJKiefer » Tue Jan 10, 2017 6:34 pm

Thank you for your feedback, Richard. I will certainly practice this more.
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Postby AlexD » Wed Jan 11, 2017 6:00 am

You are seeking approval because you are feeling apprehensive about taking your own risks. This is what academics teach people,, which unfortunately has nothing to do with real life. We learn best by making mistakes. Now, I am not saying you should strive to make mistakes that may put other people's lives at risk, but there are certain decisions you can make without the approval of others. And, think about it. What guarantees that those who give you their opinions are always right? You seeking their approval is just you avoiding personal responsibility. Everyone has struggled with this, and some struggle forever. The fact that you have recognized it is a major plus, so congrats! Welcome to real life. Do not be afraid to fail every once in a while. Those who've never failed have never really tried anteing new. So why live then?
We all want the authority to be pleased with us at some point or another. Strong people really don't care though. They have a strong sense of ethics and even stronger integrity to themselves and others, but to themselves first. It takes character, but also experience and willingness to take some risks, such as not always be liked by authority. And please don't forget that many people in positions of high authority break the rules the most. What does that tell you? It is not about authority at all. It is about integrity. You choose how you build your own authority through you personal strong values. Some of your values will inevitably change over time. But be truthful to yourself, and even if you are scared to commit to a decision you deem to be the right one, just accept the fear and do the right thing anyway. That's how you grow as a person.
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Postby HeyJKiefer » Wed Jan 11, 2017 3:57 pm

Alex, thank you for your insight! It is greatly appreciated.
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Postby TheCloud » Sat Jan 14, 2017 10:59 pm

Start saying "Thank you" instead of saying "I'm sorry." Confidence springs from gratitude; hesitation springs from guilt. If you simply stop apologizing for living and having goals, and start appreciating the choices of others and the world you're part of, it will be easier for you to move forward on your own decisions.

As an example, let's say that you're late to a meeting. Normally, you're expected response is, "Sorry I'm late." Don't say this, ever. Instead, say, "Thank you for waiting." Look for reasons to be gracious in all situations. If a mugger beats you and robs you, you don't have to be thankful to him. But you can be thankful that you were only beaten and robbed, instead of murdered.

Judgements will undo your gratitude. Expecting others to say sorry is as bad as saying it yourself, no matter how bad what they did was. You will lose your confidence and clarity, and be immersed in murky and unpleasant feelings. It's difficult, because it seems as if the bad guys get away with everything if they go unjudged. It seems like you're letting the mugger go.

In practical fact, though, judgment does not ultimately prevent criminal behavior, nor does it properly reform criminals after the fact. Gratitude can do both, and the only cost you pay is that you don't allow yourself to despise others for their choices. More of a benefit than a cost, if you ask me.

As far as I know, that is the secret to confidence and equanimity; choose how you enjoy your life, and it will be easier for you to live.
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