My daughter was dancing silly next to me and immediately she yelled out “Dad” into the kitchen so that Krish would watch her and ultimately affirm and approve of her funny and silly dance moves. The next morning, she was drawing her ‘ABCs’ on her board, and she turned it around to show us her work, expressing the cheesiest smile, yet once again desiring our approval. Of course, we excitedly praised her and celebrated her in both moments.
I said to Krish, “Isn’t it interesting how we were instinctively made to crave affirmation and approval?”, which began a conversation around our identity in Christ. When our desire for approval is fulfilled in Jesus, we not only are empowered into destiny and display healthy confidence, but we also rid ourselves of unhealthy behaviors of people-pleasing or attention-seeking.
When I was young, I use to lie quite a bit and exaggerate stories for approval and affirmation. I also use to create stories in my imagination that would uplift or promote myself, and it would temporarily feed the void I felt. I did not recognize how big of an issue it was until I began to walk through the journey of receiving my identity in Christ. It was healing and life-altering.
If you have children, it is a beautiful and healthy practice to praise them, however, the greatest gift we can give them is teaching them their identity in Jesus. It is teaching them that their worth is not performance-based and they are loved for who they are! It is teaching them how to get their desires met in Jesus!
If you are an adult struggling to feel approved and affirmed, here is a practical process to walk through for healing.
1. Recognize your need for approval and be honest with yourself.
2. Come out of agreement with shame and understand the need for approval in Christ is healthy.
3. Repent for unhealthy behaviors associated with the lack of approval in your life. Ask Holy Spirit to shine light and show you these areas.
4. Ask God, Jesus, and Holy Spirit questions that will heal and fulfill your need for approval. (Examples: Jesus, what do you think about me? How do you approve of me? What do you love about me? What are your thoughts about me?) Be consistent and after time, you will drown out the noise opposing your Christ Identity.
5. Begin to build a journal of conversations with God, Jesus, and Holy Spirit to meditate on.
6. Read the word of God, seeking scripture on your identity and who He says you are.
7. Ask Holy Spirit to make you sensitive to triggers and moments of unhealthy approval. Step out of it and turn back to Jesus for approval.
8. Stay consistent. Remember, approval-seeking did not happen overnight, it typically comes from years of deficiency, lies, and lack of identity in Christ. Be patient, loving, and kind in your healing process!
This is an updated edition of a post originally published on Take Courage Ministries