Finding God: The Dark Side of Seeking Approval

By Heidi McLaughlin:

Unrelentingly  seeking approval can lead to misery and bring out our dark side.

 [Image from kanate /]

[Image from kanate /]

We all crave to be accepted and recognized for who we are. When we sense we have been overlooked, rejected, put down or devalued, I believe our dark side kicks in. This starts when we are very young and someone gets a bigger ice cream cone or more recognition at a school play. We ask ourselves.  ”Am I not as important or valuable as the other person? How come she/he gets more rewards or recognition?”

When my children were younger and I took them to swimming lessons, they would constantly shout at me. “Look at me mommy; watch me swim. Look at how I can and do the back flip.” If I got into a conversation with another woman or happened to look away, they would remind me afterwards, “Mommy, you didn’t watch me.”

As we get older and become somewhat more mature, we become better at hiding our desperate need for applause and recognition. Yet it is there, lurking and subtly alive. We control, manipulate and orchestrate life to bring attention to our efforts; always hoping that today someone will notice how special I am.

When the pain of being rejected and overlooked becomes so powerful, the dark side can take over and compel people to do horrific acts of violence just to show the world that they are valuable and need to be noticed. Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold entered Columbine High School on April 20th, 1999 and killed thirteen of their classmates. That was four years after Timothy McVeigh killed 168 fellow citizens in Oklahoma City with a truck bomb outside the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building.  It is almost if I can hear them screaming, “I will make you take notice of me, no matter what I have to do.”

The need for our spiritual souls to be filled with love and acceptance is as powerful as the need for our physical bodies to be fed.  If our cravings are not fulfilled, our dark side will kick in and grab onto the thing we need to feel better.

As Christians and leaders in our community, churches and neighborhoods, many of us have trained our minds and bodies to behave and not let this craving be so evident. But I believe as long as we are in our human bodies, this will be one of our many struggles. But the Bible tells us this:

“For God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord look at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7 MSG).

So what is a person to do with the unrelenting craving?

Unlock the dark side. Be aware that it is there and call it by name. Pretending that it doesn’t exist does not make it go away.

Be aware that it is our motives that determine our actions. Ask yourself, “What is my motive for doing this. Is it to bring attention and recognition to myself or is it to fulfill my God given purpose and bring glory to God?”

God has given us authority and power through the Holy Spirit to live in the LIGHT, which is God.

The bible tells us that “God is Light and in Him in no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5 NIV).  As long as we stay close to God, accept His love and life in His truth, our motives will be brought into the light.

Rehearse God’s promises and love for you.

Don’t be afraid to look into your dark side; it will be the beginning of taking it out of the darkness and bringing into the Light.  By doing that, it will begin to lose its subtle, insidious, manipulative power.

 © Heidi McLaughlin. For over two decades Heidi has taught women how to become “beautiful from the inside out”, applying God’s powerful truths via bible studies, mentoring, and Heidi’s own poignant stories.  Visit Heidi at, or  her blog. Follow Heidi on Twitter: @heidiheart

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