I completely relate to what you are saying about the constant need for approval, and diminishing my needs in the face of others. Just as RJD indicated, it is related to deep internalized shame. I strongly recommend the Bradshaw book as well. We feel so empty and unworthy that we constantly need external validation which only leads to more emptiness and the cycle repeats itself. It is long slow process learning to be internally validated and to come to the realization that control over anything but your own behavior is an illusion. Yet we spend countless years and vast amounts of energy trying to gain control over other people and situations, incorrectly believing we will then be safe. Also, speaking for myself but I'm sure others can relate, I have driven people crazy as I try to control everything. It is exhausting, useless, and very lonely. There is no better way to keep intimacy out of your life than being a control freak. It is scary and difficult to let go of the pursuit of control, and I think it is essential for genuine healing to take place.
The first part of the Serenity Prayer:
God, give me the courage to accept the things I cannot change, the strength to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
This helps keep me focused on myself and working on what needs to be addressed within, thereby feeling better about who I am and less in need of the approval of others. It also helps me to accept others for who they are and where they are in their current state of evolution.
Hope this helps and welcome to the site. Glad you found us.