We all have the need to be accepted. In life, it will be very common to want to be accepted by your family, peers, colleagues, and other general humans. As group mammals, we have a distinct desire to please others and we have a large desire to know what others’ opinions of us are.
As a child, you probably put a lot of effort into being accepted by your parents and other family members. Maybe you tried extra hard in school to make your parents proud. Or you did crazy activities to fit in better with your siblings. Being a part of a group or sharing a bond with someone else is a very innate desire for humans.
Our Need to be Accepted
We all seek to have that connection from the very beginning of our life. Some of it is a survival instinct. As children, we need others to help us survive. If we aren’t accepted and taken care of, we will not make it.
Growing up and entering school, this need to be accepted only increases. Instead of just worrying about our family, now we wish to be accepted by our teachers and peers as well.
Now, not only does being accepted help us survive, but it also gives us social status. If the teachers love us, we might get special treatment. If our friends love us, they will come to us to spend time with and talk to us. It’s every student’s worst nightmare to have to sit alone at lunch and to not be accepted by anyone.
Moving on, when we enter the workforce, being accepted can sometimes be linked to the amount of money we make and the position we hold. We need our coworkers and bosses to accept us in order for us to move forward in our careers. Our desire for acceptance is back to being more survival-based, as our jobs are our livelihood.
There is nothing wrong with wanting to be accepted. However, you must be careful that you don’t only focus on being accepted. When we get so caught up in being accepted, we can end up doing crazy things. The desire to be accepted could lead us to hurt others, ourselves, or our ideals and values.
A lot of kids and adults will bully or participate in hazing in order to gain a higher social status or be accepted by those viewed as having a high status. This is not the kind of acceptance that you should want and not the people you want to be accepted by.
Sometimes when we don’t feel accepted, we hurt ourselves or work to change ourselves so that we might fit in better. This can start off innocently enough with a change in diet or exercise, change of clothing, or hobbies, but it can end up deadly if pushed far enough to eating disorders, self-harm, and dangerous hobbies such as drug use.
Although it is hard and sometimes painful, you can survive without being accepted. While it is a basic need, you don’t need acceptance every single second of the day. It is not good to go too long without feeling accepted as this could lead to depression, but it is alright to turn away from being accepted by some people.
There will be individuals in your life who are toxic. Working to be accepted by these people is not good. If you come across an opportunity to do something that would help you be accepted by them, it might be better to not take that opportunity.
When trying to be accepted or not be accepted, make sure to identify if the steps you are going to take also fit within your values or if they will go against what you believe. It is good to be accepted but sometimes it is better to wait and stay true to yourself.