“Most people think everybody feels about them much more violently than they actually do; they think other people's opinions of them swing through great arcs of approval or disapproval.”

F. Scott Fitzgerald

What do you think of me? What do you think of Darren Shields? Half - decent guy? Attention - seeking prick? Goes on about mental health too much? Maybe he hurt you? Maybe he helped you? Maybe you've known him for a long time. Maybe you've never met him.

But what do you think about him?

Because he cares.

Though he's getting better at not caring.

That's enough about him though. This blog is about you. It's entitled "approval" but it's really about you.

I wonder what sort of reputation you have. Are you cool? Are you attractive? Are you a loner? A screw up or a success? How do people see you? Do you pass whatever metric they're using to judge you? Do you care?

Approval is a funny thing. In many ways it is essential for almost every aspect of our lives. I mean you can never get a job unless someone approves you. You can never pass a test unless someone approves you. If you are in a relationship someone has obviously approved you enough to fill a portion of their heart.

Yet approval - or rather the pursuit of approval can be a harmful practice. This blog will ask three questions and I will simply share my musings and perhaps it will begin a fruitful conversation within you. That would be the aim.

1. Why do I/you/we seek approval?

2. How do I/you/we seek approval?

3.How do I/you/we stop seeking approval?

1. Why do I/you/we seek approval?

This is a pretty deep psychological question. It a pretty philosophical one too. As much as I enjoy both of those I realise they may not be everyone's cup of tea so i'll be as succinct and non philosophical as I possibly can.

So why do we seek approval from other people? Here are a few possibilities. I deliberately won't go into detail on any of them but would encourage you to apply them to your own life.

- Life is easier when you fit in

- You get more if you're liked

- Maybe you don't like yourself or lack self confidence

- You've been rejected in the past

- You fear being rejected in the future

- Maybe you've been conditioned to seek approval from a young age. Parents? Teacher? Religious figures?

- Approval often comes with prizes while disapproval comes with punishment

Perhaps you can relate to some of the above mentioned concepts. Perhaps there are things that you would add to this list. If we are going to challenge our need for the approval of others we must first explore why we crave it. The why comes first. Then the how.

2. How do I/you/we seek approval?

The following list is by no means comprehensive but perhaps you can identify some of the following behaviors in your own life.

Suppressing your opinion when it contradicts those around you

Are you someone whose views and opinions seemingly change depending on the room you are in?

I'll use the example of faith. Maybe you're the most on fire Christian when you're on the mission trip but you're much quieter in the office? Perhaps you're the opposite? Maybe you know deep down you no longer believe your faith but you play pretend in the right company.

Different groups of people will naturally draw out different aspects of our characters and personalities. But if you feel you can't truly be yourself in a certain group then perhaps you are wrongly seeking their approval.

Covering your physical imperfections</