Humans are internally wired to strive for a sense of belonging. This need for belonging causes us to seek reassurance and validation from others. We query whether our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors are acceptable. In our quest to ensure we are safe and belong, we may find ourselves relying on external validation.
But this external validation can keep us small and confined because the truth is we are not for everyone and don’t belong everywhere. If we listen to the external murmurings over and above our own inner knowing, we risk living an inauthentic life.
Read on to learn about the dangers of validation and how you can stop needing this.
What is validation?
In its simplest terms, when we talk about the validation process, we mean confirming something as “true or correct.”
I was a very insecure child. I recall asking my friends if they liked me. I wasn’t confident enough to gauge how they acted toward me; I needed further validation.
We all seek validation to some extent. It may be about our looks or an outfit. Alternatively, we might want validation for a difficult decision we are about to make or how we feel about something.
Truth be told, my need for validation followed me into adulthood. I wasn’t aware I was allowed to feel certain emotions until good friends and professionals told me it was okay.
Yes, it feels incredible to have friends validate my feelings or life choices. But, I am not less of a person without their validation, which I have learned to work on.
Why it’s important to not need external validation
When discussing the dangers of validation, I’m referring solely to external validation, which means validation from other people.
When we rely on external validation to feel accepted and secure in our belonging, our sense of self relies on what others say.
Sure, it’s nice to hear positive comments from other people. But when we need validation from others to feel good about ourselves or accept ourselves, we have little control over our psychology.
Similarly, if we rely on others to validate ourselves, we will be just as quick to allow others to tear us down.
I did not need anyone else to approve my wedding dress and how I planned to do my make-up. I decided for myself based on my own style. If I had listened to the voices of people around me, I would have been forced into more traditional attire and betrayed myself.
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5 ways to not need validation
Validation from other people does not change who you are. Yes, it might make you feel good about yourself, but their words can just as easily dent your confidence.
I encourage you to be self-reliant for your positive psychology, so no one else has power over your self-worth.
Here are our top 5 tips for how to not need validation.
1. Build your self-esteem
The NHS describes our self-esteem as “the opinions we have of ourselves.”
If we have negative thoughts about ourselves, we may seek external validation to prove our thoughts are incorrect. I already told you that as a young child, I had to check with my friends if they liked me. My self-esteem was so low that I told myself nobody liked me.
Build your self-esteem through self-kindness and compassion. It also helps to recognize what you are good at and all the positive things in your life. As your self-esteem increases, you will become less reliant on seeking external validation.
You can check out our previous article here at Tracking Happiness on how to boost your self-esteem.
2. Recognise you are not for everyone
The truth is, some people will never validate you. And the more we seek their undelivered validation, the more hurt we feel.
In the last few years, I’ve untangled from some unhealthy friendships. We can validate others without agreeing with them. However, I experienced very little validation from people who were once good friends. In fact, I was chastised for my growth and put down for boosting my confidence through my healing journey and breaking the shackles of low confidence.
Allowing people to evaporate, whose opinions of me had once formed my identity, was liberating. We are not for everyone, and that is ok.
Your positive opinion of yourself is more relevant and accurate than anyone else’s opinion of you.
3. Beware of people pleasing
I was raised with an authoritarian father. He regularly disapproved of me. This created intense people-pleasing behavior which has resulted in intense people-pleasing behavior. I have a tendency to seek to please others and put their needs over and above my own. I’m learning to undo this, and part of this healing means I have to sit with the disapproval from others without moving to change it.
And yet, until relatively recently I still sought validation from my father.
When we work on our people-pleasing habits we shake off our need for validation.
4. Work with a therapist
Working with a therapist can untangle our reliance on other people’s validation. Ironically, during this process, if appropriate, a therapist will validate our feelings and emotions in response to scenarios we are discussing. This is part of the therapy process and allows us to be vulnerable and feel comfortable sharing our souls with the therapist.
A key takeaway here is recognizing whose validation is helpful to us and whose is more of a hindrance in the long term.
Sometimes, we need the validation of a professional to unravel our reliance on validation from others. Work with this, it will help you in the long term.
5. Beware of your social media habits
Social media is a funny place to hang out. Ultimately, anything we post up, we want some interaction from others; otherwise, why post it up? The virtual likes and comments boost us and validate whatever we have put on social media. But what happens when the opposite happens? What happens if we post a picture and no one responds to it? This silence can feel invalidating.
Before you post anything on social media, ask yourself the reasons for the post. Do you need reassurance, praise, or recognition? Can you find this another way? It could be you phone up a good friend or take time for a hot bath or some loving-kindness meditation.
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The truth is, you don’t need anyone else to raise you up and validate your worth. Learn to believe in yourself without the need for other people’s interjection.
Remember our top tips on how not to need validation.
- Build your self-esteem.
- Recognize you are not for everyone.
- Beware of people pleasing.
- Work with a therapist.
- Beware of your social media habits.
What do you do to avoid needing validation? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!