There is a difference between being someone other people like and being defined by what others think. Some people are so addicted to approval that their lives spiral out of control creating discontent, depression, and alienation. Recovering approval addict Dawn Owens identifies all the ways craving approval can negatively impact our lives, and offers sound, biblical strategies to overcome them. Using her own and other’s stories as relatable examples, Owens shares the journey to an identity found only in Christ.
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About the Author
Dawn Owens is the founder and executive director of The Link of Cullman County, a ministry addressing poverty founded in March 2012 that serves over three thousand people a year in twenty-three locations. She has a B.A. in Professional Writing and an M.Ed in Education from Kutztown University as well as seminary training from Cincinnati Christian University. She blogs regularly at www.dawnmowens.com and is the host of “Lunch at the Link,” a radio show on Praise 97.9 FM. She lives with her husband and son in Cullman, Alabama.
Read an Excerpt
It's in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for.
EPHESIANS 1:11 msg
Hi. My name is Dawn Owens, and I am an approval addict. To make it even worse, I have a severe attachment to finding my approval through social media. Just last week, I found myself comparing a recent post with past posts to see if the number of likes I'd received had increased.
Writing a book on how to overcome the addiction to approval might be the most difficult way to break that addiction. Seriously, do you know how many people must approve of your idea before your book is published?
The reality is, popularity sells, so ... why in the world would a recovering approval addict choose to go through a deliberate process of seeking people's approval when there may be only a miniscule chance of success in it? This seems a lot like an alcoholic hanging out at her favorite bar.
The answer is simple: you.
You are the reason why I, a recovering approval addict, would write a book about how to overcome the addiction to approval. "But we don't even know each other," you say. That may be true. However, I'll bet I know some things about you.
First, you picked up this book because you or someone you know (wink, wink) is addicted to approval. Let's be real. You have an addiction to approval. You know it; I know it; and now the person who checked you out at the bookstore or fulfilled your Amazon order probably knows it too. In fact, you might even have thought about not purchasing this book for fear of what the cashier would think about you. Maybe you've even strategized placing this book somewhere inconspicuous, so your friends don't see you reading a book about overcoming an addiction to approval. Or maybe you are even sneakier than I imagine, and you saw the book at the bookstore but decided this one was a good e-read — no one will ever know what you struggle with since it's on your e-book device. Smooth.
Next, you're wondering if it's possible to overcome an addiction to craving people's approval. Well, I can tell you, you can overcome it. But don't misunderstand the word overcome, which means "to get the better of in a struggle or conflict; conquer; defeat." You will not overcome this addiction without a struggle. But the definition also indicates it's a successful struggle. We can say amen to that. If I'm going to struggle with something, of course I want it to end successfully!
You're probably also wondering whether you're the only one you know who struggles with an approval addiction. I know I did, until I started telling people I was writing a book on the topic. Then a floodgate opened. It became a normal conversation for me:
9 Reality Chec k "I hear you're writing a book. What's it called?"
"Well, the working title is, Like Me or Not: Overcoming the Addiction to Approval."
"Oh ... I need to read that book. Is it based on liking people's statuses online? Because, yeah, that is totally an issue. And it's amazing how addicted you can become to wanting people's approval — and not just online."
And if I happened to be in a group when the question was asked, suddenly everyone would sound off, sharing stories about themselves or people they knew who ached for approval and how social media feeds into the addiction.
So be assured — you are not alone. There is hardly a human being, male or female, on planet Earth who does not struggle with the need for approval to some degree. Well, let me clarify: most of us are addicted to approval, but not everyone knows it. Most are addicted, but not everyone struggles to overcome. To some it is bothersome, like a cowlick that refuses to be combed flat, but to others it is a full-blown addiction and they are desperately in need of help. Regardless of which camp you land in, this book can bring a measure of hope.
The last thing I think I know about you is that you are ready to get some help. How do I know this? Well, you picked up the book, right? And you've read this far and have yet to put it down. This is a good place to be. Here you can find redemption, grace, freedom, and healing. After all, you can't break free of something if you don't know you're in bondage to it. I know this is true, because I have been in your shoes and have walked the path before you. I have struggled with every symptom in this book — and then some.
In my struggles, I have learned about an amazing God who offers me redemption from my past and the negative choices I've made in my need for approval. At times, I have faltered and believed old lies, and I've allowed those lies to lead to unhealthy choices. Thankfully, God has taught me how to break free and make new choices. Through this process, I have received healing.
An approval addict's wounds go deep and can be slow to heal because of the number of times we scratch them open. For many, the wounds have left scars we don't want others to see. But scars fade and even disappear in the light of the wonderful gift Jesus gave us when He decided to choose the approval of God over the approval of man. When we do the same, our scars become so insignificant to us that we no longer realize they are there.
With that in mind, we overcome our addiction to approval by the blood, sweat, and tears Jesus shed on the cross. It's my prayer that you will come to define success only by the things God says in His Word are true of you. I also pray that your need for the approval of others will steadily decrease, even as your need for and reliance upon God increases.
Let's Get Real
Now that you know I am a recovering approval addict, it's also important to know I have been ministering to drug and alcohol addicts for years. As the founder and executive director of The Link of Cullman County, Inc., a faith-based nonprofit agency working to break the cycle of poverty, I constantly face the realities and challenges of addiction and recovery.
I have seen people win in their struggle for sobriety, and I have wept with an aching and broken heart over the loss associated with addiction. An approval addict may not be pumping her veins full of heroin, but the addiction still claims casualties. It destroys confidence and self-esteem. It destroys lives. People have chosen suicide rather than the continued struggle of living up to the expectations of others. There are, in fact, some who have been caught up in substance abuse because they were unable to identify and address the root cause of their struggles — the need for approval. Addiction is layered and complex, but we can take comfort and hope in knowing that there is a God who can overcome it all.
Of course, this book will only be as beneficial as you make it. Each chapter will help you understand another facet of what causes your need for approval and then provide Scripture for you to use to renew your mind and eventually transform your actions. I love the New Living Translation's version of Romans 12:2: "Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect."
So much of our need for others' approval comes because we have believed the lie that we must copy the behaviors and customs of this world to be accepted. Consequently, we respond to social media in ways deemed acceptable by our social circles, we wear clothes because of the trends around us, and we decorate our homes to reflect the latest and greatest HGTV show. We can look all around us and see ways in which we have conformed to this world.
The good news is that we can live in the world without conforming to it when we allow God to transform our lives. By renewing our minds through the Bible, we can know what God's good and perfect will is for us; we'll no longer worry about what other people think or expect. I don't know about you, but I take comfort in that idea. For years, I felt like I was constantly striving to live up to someone else's expectations; I desperately craved their approval. Now I know who I am and, most days, the only one I seek to please is God. And I have gained this freedom only by renewing my mind with His Word.
As a recovering approval addict, I am still tempted every day to seek approval from some other source than God, but things are
12 different now. Before, I would have landed in a never-ending spiral of negative thoughts; I'd have distanced myself from others, blamed the culprit, become a victim, felt shame and guilt, and ultimately, I'd have distanced myself from God. Now, I am equipped with the tools to combat those thoughts. I am equipped with God's Word, and I've learned that all I need to do is trust and obey Him. Obedience provides freedom and blessing that only He can give. Because of Him, I am free from the need to perform for others.
Writing this book has been a humbling experience. There are so many sets of eyes on every word I write, analyzing each story from my life. Even the thought of you reading this book makes me feel vulnerable and emotional. But this journey has become my sacrificial offering to the Lord. After all, these are His stories; this is the testimony He has created for my life.
It is my hope and prayer that, through my experience, the related truth of Scripture, and the Holy Spirit's help, you will identify your areas of struggle and experience deliverance. I'm right here with you, too. Picture me walking beside you throughout this journey, praying for you, believing in your healing, and offering you grace as you learn more of who you are and how much He loves you.
Let's commit together, today, to start praying for freedom — freedom from the bondage of jealousy, competition, division, self-centeredness, self-pity, self-doubt, neediness, and enslavement to other people's perceptions of us. To overcome our addictions, we must learn to focus less on ourselves and more on others. I'll commit to pray for you, and I invite you to pray for me and all the other women reading this book. Pray with me:
Lord Jesus, I recognize that I have a need for approval in my life, and I have sought to meet that need through other people rather than through You. Please forgive me for getting this mixed up. I did not realize that I was basing my decisions on other people's approval of me and not on Your desire for me. I submit this addiction to You right now. I ask You to begin the process of restoring me. Just as You cured the blind man, the leper, and the woman with the issue of blood, I ask You to heal me from this addiction. I realize the process may take a while, and I am willing to cooperate with Your Holy Spirit to receive the wisdom and discernment I need. Remind me to seek You daily in prayer and in Your Word. Help me also to find someone to whom I can be accountable as I walk this path. Amen.
* * *
There is something very addictive about people-pleasing. It's a thought pattern and a habit that feels really, really good until it becomes desperate.
Confession time. I use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media — and I like it. A lot. I use social media to share my life with friends near and far. I also use it to promote the goings-on of the ministry I serve. We desire to love the poor through encouragement, education, and employability training; in doing so we provide opportunity for life-transformational experiences with Jesus. We do this in the hope of alleviating the effects of poverty in homes throughout our community.
Throughout the year, we coach and encourage those who have been battling with addiction to walk in sobriety and learn who they are in Christ. We teach inmates how they can be set free in Jesus and reconciled with families, gain employment, and serve their community. We mentor children from economically challenged homes and difficult family situations to help them gain confidence in themselves and their academic abilities. We teach teenagers to become wise with their money so they can break the cycle of generational poverty. These are just a few of the examples of how God has used our ministry over the years.
Each year, we run an end-of-the-year fundraising campaign. From October through December, we write letters, release video testimonials, and share stories on our social media channels. We ask the public to financially support life transformation. This time of year can be a lot of fun, but it is also challenging for a recovering approval addict like me.
Recently, a unique opportunity presented itself through a national grant program. To receive the grant, we had to recruit people from all over the United States to vote for our cause. We asked the grant organization for funds to help us create a safe place in our little community in North Alabama for foster children to feel supported, learn life skills, and discover who they are in Christ.
They read our proposal and selected us as one of two hundred causes to compete for the grant. Now, Cullman County's population is eighty-two thousand people, with a central city of fifteen thousand. Compared to the other locations that were selected — many of them large urban centers — we were an underdog hoping to see God do a miracle. We knew it was a David-and-Goliath opportunity, but when you are passionate about the people you serve, you do what you can to help your cause win, especially when twenty-five thousand dollars is at stake.
The grant-making organization posted the top two hundred causes online and asked people to select the final forty via daily online voting. Social media was crucial, of course. We used every method we could think of to get the word out. Our community does not have a large TV station, so Facebook Live became a critical tool for us. Facebook Live allows a user to go "live" via video to share whatever they are doing in real time. It is an incredible tool, but it can be extremely intimidating.
We decided to share stories of why foster care programs mattered so much to our community and why every single vote was so important. For ten days we rallied our supporters to vote. I felt like a local newscaster as I traveled around, interviewing people who were directly affected by the foster care crisis in our area. The community responded enthusiastically to this new area of our ministry.
But, as you know, I am a recovering approval addict, and though Facebook Live was fun to use, it was also trying for me. Every day, I was online and live in front of whoever may be watching. Some days, the crowd of watchers grew and commented and engaged with me. Other days, they fell a little silent. All kinds of folks logged on to watch. One of the most exciting moments for me was when the president of the Christian Community Development Association (CCDA), a national organization to which we belong, started following. He was in Chicago, and I felt like I'd hit the big time by gaining his attention.
Excerpted from "Like Me or Not"
Copyright © 2018 Dawn Owens.
Excerpted by permission of Worthy Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Could I Have a Problem? 1
1 Reality Check 7
2 Puhlease, People 15
3 Me, Insecure? 33
4 My Way or the Highway 51
5 Don't Take It So Personally 65
6 Community versus Comparison 77
7 That Chip on Your Shoulder 89
8 Rejected! 101
9 One Day at a Time 109
10 Know Who You Are 131
11 Obsession (Not the Perfume) 141
12 Peace Junkie 153
13 A Joy-a-Holic 161
14 The Surrender Habit 169
Conclusion: The End of Us Begins with You 179
Leader's Guide 185
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
When I began reading, I thought this book was more for younger women or teens, but then I started thinking I should get my nails done and buy a new outfit to see a perfectionist friend I hadn't seen in a long time. And I'm retired! This book is for every woman who craves approval or control and will bend over backward to get it. Dawn Owens' conversational, kind tone will pull the reader in, along with her sharing of painful incidents in her own life. The Christian content aims to show the reader she only needs God's approval. The last part of the book is a Leader's Guide for groups using Like Me or Not. The Appendix contains Bible verse references that will help with this addiction. Let Dawn serve as an author mentor for your spiritual growth and development. This book will make you think--and pray.
This book was helped me strive for authenticity and confidence. It was an eye opening read that helped me process faulty thinking about my idea that I needed other's approval in order to feel good about myself. I recommend this to anyone who is looking for genuine self-satisfaction and encouragement to be true to themselves as a whole- from the inside out. *I was given an advance copy of this book for my review.
Deb’s Dozen: Please like me! I want your approval. How to overcome approval addiction. Addiction can take many forms. For some, it’s drugs; for others, video games; for still others, addiction is the need to be liked and approved. Dawn M. Owen’s book, Like Me or Not: Overcoming Approval Addiction, addresses the latter. Owens displays complete vulnerability and honesty in this book of suggestions and methods for overcoming the addiction. I can identify–I still find myself caught up in this trap on occasion. I love Dawn’s ability to express how she felt and how she overcame those feelings. The chapter headings give us a clue: “Me, Insecure? That Chip on Your Shoulder, One Day at a Time, The Surrender Habit.” Her advice is sound and biblical. In “Me, Insecure?” she relates the story of a girl, Laura, who came across as poised and all together–Dawn tells that she was the opposite of Laura, as insecure as they come. Hey, Dawn! I was Laura–and I was as insecure as they come. The poise and confidence was an act, which tells us we shouldn’t judge others by their appearance. Dawn shows us how easily we can be caught up in the addiction–when we compare ourselves to others, when we want to belong to a community, when we want success. Throughout the book, Owens shows us how to break those chains–and to build the habit of surrendering every day to God. God is the only One whose approval we need. Our identity in Christ gives us confidence, self-worth, and His approval–we’re kids of the King! Dawn Owens is the founder and executive director of The Link of Cullman County, a ministry addressing poverty that serves over three thousand people a year in twenty-three locations. She has a radio show “Lunch at the Link” on Praise 97.9 FM and blogs frequently at dawnmowens.com. Like Me is her debut book, one I wanted to publish myself. Dawn and her husband and son live in Cullman, Alabama. Worthy Inspired gave me a copy of Like Me or Not, but I was in no way obligated to write a review.