The Approval-Anxiety Loop


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Over the last 15 years I have seen the gamut of human emotions in my coaching conversations. Our human emotions are generated as a response to the things that happen around us and the way we perceive those occurrences.

The combo that has shown up with alarming frequency across all levels and types of people is the link between approval seeking behaviours and anxiety. When those two get together they are experts in creating a tail-chasing cycle that can tie people into complex emotional knots. Those knots then become tighter as anxiety rises until all semblance of effective behaviour is lost.

Like so many aspects of professional and personal development the key to more effectively managing the approval-anxiety loop is awareness. The earlier you are able to identify the loop starting the faster you are able to stop it. If you are all too aware of your pre-disposition to get stuck in an approval-anxiety loop, what can you do to stop it?

The first step is to note your approval-anxiety signs.

What are the thoughts that pop into your head? Are you worried about what others will think of you? Are you concerned you will let people down? Do you think you are useless?

What are your most likely emotional responses? Do you get irritable easily? Do you get teary? Do you feel worthless?

What are your physical responses? Do you get the jitters? Do you perspire? Do you find it hard to breathe?

When you are aware of your early warning signs you can then make a choice to put strategies in place to shift the behaviours. Working out those strategies is your job. Here are a few questions that might serve as ideas or guides for strategies that might work for you.

How would you like to be feeling right now? What will help you get there?

How would you ideally like the situation to be? If you could wave a magic wand over the situation what would be happening? What conversations or actions could make that happen?

More often than not the approval-anxiety loop generates unrealistic self-expectations. Caught early enough asking yourself “What can realistically be expected here?” can be helpful. Alternately asking yourself what a trusted advisor would realistically expect here could be useful. And if that’s not working call or find the most level headed person you know and ask them about realistic expectations for your current situation.

Sometimes it can take a while to catch your warning signs early enough so as not to go into a tail spin. With awareness will come new choices. With new choices will come more effective conversations, emotions and actions!

Because your Mind Health Matters…

Jacqui Chaplin | jacqui@jacquichaplin.com | +61 (0) 412 741 531


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