Stop Seeking Validation from Others5 min read

What is Seeking Validation?

LifeHack says seeking validation is “the desire to have someone else’s approval or agreement with what you say, believe, or do.”

PsychologyToday describes validation as the “recognition and acceptance” of someone else’s experience.

When we seek validation we want acceptance from others that feeds our self-worth. People with an excessive desire for external validation largely base their identity on the approval of others.

Seeking Validation gets excessive when your desire to get your abandonment needs met negatively affects other areas of your life.

Why are you like this?

Everyone experiences the need to feel recognized or validated to a certain extent. When you receive a promotion at work, stand up on your surfboard for the first time, or post an attractive picture on your Instagram, you want others to recognize and praise you.

Now more than ever, we find much of our self-worth based on how much engagement we receive on our latest social media posts.

Imagine entertainers such as musicians or comedians whose career success is based entirely on how much other people like them. Playing night after night in front of a crowd at an early age can condition you to believe that the amount of applause from your audience determines whether you had a great show or not.

Often, the start of this excessive desire for approval starts in our childhood. However, consider that either receiving too much or not enough validation in your childhood can cause you to feel dependent on acceptance for self-worth.

Effects

Basing your identity largely on the approval of others inevitably leads to anxiety and depression. We get a short burst of satisfaction when others approve of us. However, we find ourselves in a vicious cycle of constantly wanting more approval.

Our never-ending search for approval becomes a habit that affects how we value ourselves, the thoughts we have, and ultimately the decisions we make.

PsychCentral mentions that receiving too much validation can lead to effects in adulthood including narcissism, entitlement, and problems with interpersonal relationships.

Receiving too little validation can lead to effects in adulthood including an inability to properly control emotions, difficulty trusting others, fear of rejection, and unpredictable behaviors.

Am I Seeking Validation From Others?

The following points from PsychCentral indicate how to determine if you excessively seek validation:

  • comparing yourself constantly to others and feeling a chronic sense of “lack” without acknowledging your unique strengths
  • becoming emotionally distressed when you’re not the center of attention and frantic attempts to recenter yourself
  • inability to disagree with or challenge others due to fear of being judged or abandoned
  • punishing yourself for not being “chosen” or acknowledged in contexts such as friendships, school, and at work
  • feeling guilty about setting boundaries with others
  • overachieving in an attempt to garner praise from others
  • jumping from relationship to relationship without taking the time to heal because you feel you can’t be alone
  • having difficulty making decisions on your own without someone else’s input
  • saying yes to tasks and plans you’d prefer saying no to, just so you can maintain approval from others
  • fabricating or exaggerating life circumstances to gain sympathy from others

Here are a few more I’d like to add based on my research for this article and personal experiences:

  • Hesitant to ask questions or speak up in fear of being judged
  • Feeling a constant pull towards “people-pleasing” and meeting others’ expectations
  • Execisvely focusing on your negative traits and imperfections
  • Constantly asking others their opinions on what you should do. You already made a decision, it’s a good decision, but you want to check if others choose the same decision.
  • Feeling unworthy of achieving what other people have
  • Feeling like you aren’t reaching your fullest potential
  • You don’t trust your own intuition and gut feelings

Implement These Strategies

  1. Become aware when you are seeking validation. Are you constantly checking how many likes your post got? Are you constantly comparing yourself to others?
  2. Validate yourself. Somewhere along the line, you started to no longer value your own praise as highly as others. Understand that your own praise, perspectives, and opinions are just as if not more valuable than others.
  3. Surround yourself with good friends. In your childhood, you may have not felt accepted by the people you surrounded yourself with or currently may feel judged by coworkers, family, strangers, etc. Find good people who support you.
  4. Replace negative self-talk. We often say things to ourselves we would never say to another person. Have more kindness with yourself. Recite daily positive affirmations. “I am confident and loved by those close to me”.
  5. Improve competence. I used to be bad at singing and people reacted negatively to me even trying to sing. I practiced for an hour every day, recorded myself, and got feedback from a community of other singers. This helped me understand my current skill level and feel confident singing in front of people without needing their input on how well I sang.
  6. Say “no” more. Decline requests you want to say no to, but previously would say yes in fear of disappointing someone. The right people will respect your boundaries.
  7. Limit social media use. Social media can be a useful tool for connecting with people. When we get into the mindset of constant consumption and scrolling we begin to compare ourselves to others. When using social media, have meaningful interactions with people. Work to build relationships with people in person.
  8. Accept your mistakes. We all make mistakes and are learning constantly. Understand that you will make mistakes. Learn from past mistakes and allow your mind to move on.
  9. Don’t compare yourself to others. Social media profiles are not correct representations of people’s lives. Aim to make incremental progress daily towards the goals you’ve set for yourself.
  10. Meditate. Have a peaceful mind. Get in touch more with your own intuition and practice listening more to it.

This article from bustle.com provided some of the above strategies.

Final Thoughts

The 10 strategies above are a great starting point. Lastly, think about your basic needs on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Determine how you can ensure your needs of food, water, security, love, and belonging are met. Getting these needs met first can allow you to better focus on getting your esteem and self-actualization needs met.

Every human needs a feeling of love and belonging. Needing constant validation from others isn’t about a feeling of love and belonging. Seeking love and belonging are external solutions. Resolving your need for validation happens when you are content with who you are.

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