Avoid The Approval Seeking Trap

Here’s an interesting thing. As we clear up old habits of thought that have kept them stuck, many clients will get to a point where they KNOW EXACTLY what it is that they need to do to be happier! Quit that job. Leave that girlfriend. Move to the country. Take up riding. Quit that toxic friendship. Go to Canada. Retrain as a nurse. Downsize the house. Start their own business. They get to a point of clarity where they just know that’s the right move for them. They can feel it in their bones. Boom!

They are ready, ready for that new shiny life! Yes! And then…at the moment of leaping…sometimes they just don’t. They stay stalled, teetering on the edge.


“What’s stopping you I say? Is this not what you want?”

“Oh yes, absolutely, I know it’s 110% what I want. I know it’s the right next thing for me. I’ve put all the plans in place, the finances are sorted, everything’s ready to go”

“Right. So, what’s stopping you?”

“Well…..you know what…. I don’t think my parent(s) will approve.”


I can’t tell you how many people stay in a situation that is not right for them because they don’t want to lose the approval of their parents or other significant people in their life. (And I am including people in their late 50’s here who are parents/grandparents themselves). From students doing a degree they hate, to professionals slogging up a career ladder that is high in following in familial footsteps but low in personal satisfaction, right through to people in their 60’s with grown up children of their own choosing not to make the retirement move that they want because of what mother might say. This fear of losing love because we may not get approval is very, very real and it can stop us in our tracks.

Of course we want approval, and of course life is easier that way.

As grown adults however we can choose to move past that outdated habit of thought which may no longer be serving us, keeping us trapped in a situation that is not right for us. Viewing parental approval as a “nice to have” rather than a “mandatory” requirement for change is a step towards freedom and our happiest life. We cannot control someone else’s reaction to what we choose to do, after all. Their reaction is theirs, they can choose to approve, or not. That’s actually their business, and we should leave it to them. It doesn’t mean they don’t love us, or us them.

The important thing is that YOU love and approve of the choices you are making in your life. Choose with clarity and conviction no matter how incomprehensible that might seem to others. Because here’s the thing:

When you truly love the choices you make, you find you need others to approve a whole lot less.

Seeing one beautiful client, in her new environment as a emergency room nurse having left the accountancy firm and career she had slogged her way through in utter misery (both Mum and Dad are partner level accountants) – seeing her literally RADIATE JOY in her element in this hospital – amazing. She gave me the biggest hug, “you changed my LIFE that day you told me my Dad was my Dad, and not God! That he might not be right about what’s right for me, and that I knew better for myself”. CHANGED. MY. LIFE. And you know what – he is so proud of me now in my new career and I am so much happier”. She made the leap. Worth every scary moment in mid-air as she leapt into a life that met with her own approval FIRST. You can do that too. When you truly love the choices you make, you find you need others to approve a whole lot less. Ironically you will often find the external approval will follow on behind anyway – but do it for you first.

Action Step:

Are there choices you are avoiding making because of fear of lack of parental approval? Make a list. You are a grown adult, so start viewing approval as a “nice to have” rather than “must have” and start opening up the possibilities.

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