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5 Ways to Get Over Approval Addiction and Instant Gratification

5 Ways to Get Over Approval Addiction and Instant Gratification

You refresh your Facebook feed over and over again after posting a status, because you can’t wait to see what your friends think about your witty observation. You can’t wait to see what your friends think, because you desperately want them to approve your actions. Did they like it? Did they comment with an lol, Lol, or even LOL? Did they react with a big laugh or wow emoji? These are pressing matters that are TOTALLY worthy of your attention…

Except they’re not (that was sarcasm, just in case you missed it). You have much better things to be doing with your life besides getting approval from others instantly.

We’re all in this when it comes to seeking pleasure instantly. It’s our nature.

Approval addiction is the demand for approval. People who are addicted to approval feel rejected and get very defensive when others criticize them.

Instant gratification is the desire for pleasure without delay. Basically it means, when you want something, you want it right now.

Waiting is hard, waiting to get approval is harder. Our brains are wired to instant gratification because it used to be our basic survival instinct in the ancient times. In the past, when we felt hungry and wanted to eat, we had to go out to kill some animals for food. We simply couldn’t wait.

In most psychological models, humans are believed to act upon the “pleasure principle.” The pleasure principle is basically the driving force that compels human beings to gratify their needs, wants, and urges. These needs, wants, and urges can be as basic as the need to breathe, eat, or drink.[1]

Approval addiction and instant gratification are intimately connected. When approval addiction and instant gratification go together, it’ll be like wanting the pleasure of approval immediately and continuously. But this is really bad for us.

Giving in to instant approval is giving up our promising future — our long-term good.

Getting instant pleasure may comfort us immediately, but we will be missing things that are actually better in the long-run.

For example, when you check your Facebook or Instagram every few minutes just to know how other react to your posts, you miss out all the times that you can have spent on doing something a lot more meaningful, say being with your close friends or your family, or your hobbies.

Or if you’re spending money on a new luxury watch just to put it on the social media to show it off to others, you’re wasting your time and money to do what doesn’t really matter to you, but to others (as you believe).

To ditch instant approval, tune your pace of life.

Even though we’re all wired to instant gratification, we can get over it by making some small changes in life. Practice doing these small things every day will help you take back control of your life.

1. Stop leaving your ringer on.

My phone’s default setting is “silent.” It would be really hard to concentrate on writing articles like this if I was interrupted by a BUZZ or RING every few minutes (also, I think I might have ADD, but that’s a whole other story).

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Turn your ringer off. Put your phone away in a pocket, purse, or drawer. Out of sight, out of mind.

You have important work to do. Don’t feel bad about it. No one has the right to expect an immediate reply. It can wait.

2. Stop thinking you don’t have a problem.

I’ll be the first person to admit it: I used to be obsessed with social media, and it’s still a temptation I have to look out for. Here are some specific examples. Tell me if they sound familiar.

Instead of actively listening to my family during a holiday meal, I let my attention waiver to the activity of my Facebook feed. Instead of fully appreciating a peaceful nature walk with my dog, I got caught up in trying to capture the “perfect picture.” Instead of contributing to a conversation with a friend at the bar, I got distracted by a heated debate about a news article on Twitter.

And that brings us to…

3. Stop bringing your phone everywhere.

Get in the habit of leaving your phone at home when you go to work, the gym, grocery store, or out with friends. I bet you’ll start to notice little things that have escaped your attention.

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Only take your phone with you if you’re expecting an important call or traveling a long distance. You might be worried about what you would do in case of an “emergency.” But let’s be honest. When has that ever happened? Maybe once or twice if you’re really unlucky? If your car breaks down and you don’t have a phone, you might have to walk a couple miles to find someone who does.

You’ll be fine. Consider it an adventure!

4. Stop answering every call you receive.

Consider this scenario:

You get your electric bill in the mail. Typically, it runs about $50 at this time of year, but you owe $250 this month. Outraged, you call the power company to complain. If you get a person on the phone, God help them, because you’re gonna let them know exactly how upset you are… but no such luck. They closed an hour ago. You have to leave a message. Aware that most voicemail boxes only give you 1-2 minutes to finish, you leave a succinct message with the relevant info they need. The next day, a customer service rep researches your account, and they call back to offer an explanation. Sounds a lot more productive than having a temper tantrum, doesn’t it?

Send all calls straight to voicemail. If it’s important, they will leave a message.

5. Stop being in such a hurry.

Go, go, go! That seems to be the motto of modern society. Everyone wants to get things done faster. Why not better?

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You don’t give yourself enough time to get ready in the morning; with no time to eat breakfast, you rush to the car and drive like a maniac, pushing your gas pedal as hard as you can.

You don’t give yourself enough time to enjoy your meals; without paying attention to the taste or texture of your food, you eat like a ravenous dog, swallowing every bite as fast as you can.

And you don’t make time for exercise since you’re so “busy,” despite the irony that physical activity is scientifically proven to make you more productive.[2] Making the time to take care of yourself requires planning and patience, traits that might be foreign to a person who is ruled by instant gratification.

Begin your healing process by making three tiny changes:

  • Wake up 15 minutes early for the next week. Try to up it to 30 minutes the next one.
  • Take an extra 5 minutes to eat every meal for the next week. Try to up it to 10 minutes the next one.
  • Walk for 10 minutes during your lunch break every day for the next week. Try to up it to 20 minutes the next one.

In the morning, prepare oatmeal and/or scrambled eggs for breakfast (you could also find a podcast or audiobook to listen to on the way to work). During your meals, concentrate on chewing slowly (you could make it a fun game by trying to guess what ingredients are present in your food). During your walk, meditate about what you hope to accomplish with the rest of your day.

Slow down. Appreciate. Repeat.

Remember, we don’t need to have everything we want right away. We need to learn to slow down and appreciate the wait. Great things take time is not just a saying, it does mean something.

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You have a whole lot more to enjoy in life than checking your social feeds. And there’s a lot of good stuff about yourself than just those likes from Facebook and Instagram.

Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

Reference

More by this author

Daniel Wallen

Freelance Writer

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Last Updated on October 15, 2018

How to Calm Down When You Are Overwhelmed: 7 Quick Ways to Try

How to Calm Down When You Are Overwhelmed: 7 Quick Ways to Try

Do you sometimes feel that you add items to your to-do list faster than you tick them off? Do you spend most of your day worrying about your lack of time?

The truth is, no matter how much we love our job, or how productive we believe we are under stress, there comes a moment when the pressure rises above boiling point. The sheer number of urgent tasks multiplies in a geometric progression. New possibilities no longer sound inspiring, they sound overwhelming and equal more work.

If that’s where you are right now – keep reading! If not, it doesn’t mean you should wait until you get there to learn how to cope with a demanding work schedule and how to calm yourself down quickly when you feel overwhelmed.

Here are 7 quick and easy tips on how to calm down when you are overwhelmed:

1. Let go of a few activities

Yes, it’s that easy! Take a look at your to-do list and ask yourself, “If I don’t do it today, will it matter a month from now?”

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Not every urgent task is important. Just like not every important, high pay-off task is urgent. The best way to keep yourself from getting overwhelmed and to manage your time is to know the difference between the two and learn to simplify your life by getting your to-do list down to three big tasks.

2. Take deep breaths to calm down

This advice sounds so simple it’s often overlooked. But it works better (and faster) than any other relaxation technique out there.

There is a direct connection between our emotional state and breathing. An anxious, frustrated or overwhelmed person breathes as if they have just finished running a marathon. A calm person breathes differently. Their breathing is deep, slow and steady. So when you have a panic attack, the best way to bring your heart rate down and to regain your cool is to change your breathing.

Try this now:

Take a slow, long deep breath in, filling your lungs with air and expanding your diaphragm. Hold your breath for four counts and then slowly release the air through your mouth. Repeat four times and notice frustration and the feeling of being overwhelmed dissolve with each long exhale of these calming breaths.

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3. Make “Just one thing” your mantra

When we feel overwhelmed by the amount of tasks on our to-do list, it’s easy to enter the ‘deer in the headlights’ state. You see deadlines approaching directly towards you, and you know that something has to be done about them, but you just don’t know where to start.

The best way to get your mind out of an ‘inactivity trance’ is to create momentum. This is what makes the “Just one thing” mantra so powerful. It helps to change our expectation that everything has to be completed right now, “or else.”

Next time you feel overwhelmed make grabbing a cup of coffee your “Just one thing.” You can do it, right? Then come back, pick one of the smallest tasks on your to-do list and tell yourself you’ll do just that one task. This is your next “Just one thing” that you will concentrate on until it’s complete. After that you can move on to the next task and so on.

It’s not “One thing at a time.” Saying this implies that there is a huge line of other tasks waiting to get done and that’s not the message you want to keep repeating to yourself. Learn how to focus here and stop getting overwhelmed.

4. Reduce the multi-tasking and multi-thinking

It’s been proven that multi-tasking is very inefficient, to the point of dumbing us down (more than smoking marijuana does). The same is true for multi-thinking, when your mind frantically jumps from one thought to another, trying to focus on and analyze several things all at once.

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Fortunately, there is help. A few minutes of meditation or brainwave music is all it takes to start feeling more relaxed, more creative and less overwhelmed.

5. Get moving

Any exercise you engage in – be it walking or dancing to your favorite beat – helps to release endorphins, the ‘feel-good’ hormones, through your body and to clear your mind.

Staying active also increases your productivity, enhances your ability to combat stress and anxiety. It also helps you to release the tension, boosting your mood and changing the thoughts that induce the sense of being overwhelmed.

The best part is you don’t have to spend hours in the gym to get the mind-soothing benefits of exercise. Even as little as 15 minutes of dancing or jogging can go a long way towards making you feel better and staying calmer.

6. Change your surroundings

We all need and deserve to take vacations from work woes and family responsibilities. Unfortunately, spending two weeks lazing on a beach, toes in the sand and a Mojito in hand, is not always an option. However, this doesn’t mean that we can’t take short ‘vacations’ from work stress and the technology buzz.

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Go outside for a few minutes and enjoy the sunshine. Stop at a park instead of driving straight home from work. Sometimes changing your surroundings and ‘spicing up your routine’ is all it takes to change your perspective on things and find creative solutions to seemingly complex and overwhelming problems.

7. Get some pet therapy

Studies have shown what most of us already guessed – our pets can be a great help during stressful moments. Simple actions such as petting or playing with your dog or cat can lower high blood pressure, boost your immune system and boost your mood.

Besides, pets can make the best conversation partners to share your frustrations with. They listen, they love you unconditionally and they never talk back or say, “I told you so.”

Final thoughts

Don’t wait for stress to hit you to start practicing these quick ways to calm down when you are overwhelmed. The best way to enjoy a worry-free life is not to push yourself to the limit of being overwhelmed and frustrated.

Featured photo credit: Dardan via unsplash.com

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