text talk: how to overcome that need for approval ( + find your swagger)



She texted me out of the blue and got straight to the point:

How do I become more assertive among people with very strong personalities? I want to be a leader but I’m such a people pleaser it gets in my way.

It’s really bad, my need for approval from others.

Sometimes I will even say I agree with something when I don’t just so the other person will approve of me. It is weak. I don’t want to be that person.

My colleagues are competitive.

I texted back:

As is the world.

Very true. Not used to it in this part of the profession. I have a colleague who is always trying to one up me. It’s so weird to me.

You probably went from an environment where people are just trying to emotionally survive – and not burn out – to one where they are trying to get ahead.

Would you rather be liked or respected?

Can’t you be both?

Do you respect yourself when you do or say something to get somebody’s approval? How does it feel?

No I don’t.

When you try to get approval from the outside world, so you can put it inside you to fill that void, that hurting place, you give your power away.

That is why it is dangerous.

It’s 630 am here, by the way! I am getting happily caffeinated. The new dog is snoring a bit.

That is true. I need to start thinking about this. The new dog sounds adorable.

Get out of your head and into your gut.

Start doing what your gut tells you to do. That is a powerful nonverbal form of intelligence constantly absorbing and processing information.

It’s hard for

When we try to please others, we disconnect from our gut, that powerful internal guidance system.

And we get lost.

Me to disagree with others

And depression follows right?

Yeah, and other people take advantage of us.

Think of Oprah! She is loved and respected but she is also tough and stands her ground.


You don’t have to go to war with people. You have empathy sensitivity and tact. Those are your superpowers. You can learn to disagree in ways that don’t seem so confrontational…you are guiding people in a different direction

But you also need to assert boundaries and stand your ground

Or you will get eaten alive

Don’t think of it as disagreeing…think of it as serving the higher purpose of what you believe in.

What do you believe in? What do you stand for?

Ask yourself, what would Oprah do? See things through your Oprah glasses to shift your perspective a bit. And then follow that.

Thanks for the text talk.

Feeling inspired.

I am looking forward to my 40s.

I am still adjusting to being 40!

It is funny, because as a single person I have more baggage than ever…but I also feel the most powerful, confident, sexiest I’ve ever been. I got my swagger back. Which is good, because I will need it!

But it surprises me a bit

Why does it surprise you?

Because 40 is not supposed to be a swaggering age for women

But I say fuck that. ☺

Yeah. Fuck that. Enjoy and swag!

You sound really good. Healthy, happy.

Yoga and meditation have been great for me.

What should I blog about today?

I love yoga

Blog about what we just texted about. Blog for me.

I found this writer named Stephen Cope, I love. He writes about yoga. Check him out.

Can I use your texts in my post? I will keep u anonymous of course.

Yes! Of course!!

Love you.

Love you back.

Dec 15, 2012

8 comments · Add Yours

Simple, real and beautiful. Thanks for sharing in this format.

And I say fuck it too – I just turned 41 and feel sexier and braver than ever before!


Wow. I’m clearly not getting the most out of the texting medium. :) That whole outward validation thing gets me all the time. And it sucks. Hyper-competitive people feast on those insecurities. They are vultures. That’s why seeking their approval is like dumpster diving for their unwanted leftovers. It’s just bad soul food.


My Grandma told me that her life didn’t really start until she was 45. At 43, I’m hanging on that one, and getting ready.


“You probably went from an environment where people are just trying to emotionally survive – and not burn out – to one where they are trying to get ahead.”

YES. YES. YES. Wow. That one sentence pretty much sums up my family existence. And I have struggled with the same issues that the anonymous texter has. I’ve gotten better, but I’m nowhere near as assertive as I want to be.


I’ve been thinking about this. One thing in the post that struck me was the fact that this woman has a colleague who is constantly trying to one-up her.

Texter, I’m still learning this myself, but try not to take it personally. Competition is just that–competition. It’s not personal, and it’s not really about you–except for the fact that the person who has chosen you for competition sees you as a worthy adversary. If you try to see it that way, you’ll better be able to figure out what it is about your skill-set that s/he finds threatening, and work to strengthen those skills even more.

I think women tend to be exposed to competition in very unhealthy ways. I know I was as a kid, and it made me shy away from competition in my adult life. I’m really seeing the effects of that now, at 40.

So don’t shy away from it. Recognize that this person is just trying to get ahead. Also recognize that in some ways, competitive people do have one advantage: they understand that the world only cares about what they can offer. If you start to understand that, you might find yourself actually following your gut more, since obviously you can’t offer anything to the world if you have no idea what you think or can do. And that in turn can help you to feel less apologetic when you DO come out ahead. If you get ahead fair and square, you’ll have nothing to apologize about.

One thing that I think can help you strengthen your gut is observing others closely. This can help you play things closer to the vest, too–something that’s often necessary in a competitive environment.

Just my two cents about things I’ve had to learn the hard way …


@Stacy Stacy, thanks for the comments! I will make sure the texter knows to read them.


“You don’t have to go to war with people.” Last week my boss told me I needed to confront a business we had worked with. He told me what to say, which was very “at war”. I hung up the phone very anxious about having to call this business, but then I snapped out of it and thought, “I don’t have to do that! I know how to ask for what I need without being rude.” So I called the company and asked for what I needed…nicely, respectfully and within my comfort level. They may not like me, but they won’t say that because I’m rude. They’ll say it because I called them on their BS.


Thanks Justine, exactly what I needed to read today. x


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