What does it feel like when you get validation from others? Do you feel happy and content, or are you left wanting more? Most of us desire validation from time to time, but if you rely on it too much, it can be tough to achieve true happiness.
This can be a hard habit to break, but there are ways to overcome this way of thinking.
According to experts, here are ways to stop seeking validation from others and start finding happiness within yourself.
The key is to hit your self-doubt head-on and commit to staying in control of it
For many years I didn’t trust my own voice. I was always looking to others who I thought were smarter or knew better than me.
Here’s a story that illustrates this:
Everyone was staring at me. Sitting in the boardroom attempting to present, I was tongue-tied. Looking down at my notes, my halted speech continued. Six leadership team peers—including Sue, the company president—were gently suggesting ways to proceed while I struggled to express myself. I felt so stupid.
The problem? I didn’t agree with what I was supposed to present. It didn’t make sense. My boss had suggested that I lead this discussion months prior.
It didn’t make sense then, and it didn’t make sense now, but I never said anything. I chose to go with it even though I disagreed. I figured she knew better.
Trapped by my internal conflict of what I was taught (“don’t question your boss because she knows best, and you need to respect her authority”) versus my own knowing that this idea didn’t make sense, I stumbled over my words.
After several awkward moments, she swooped in and kindly suggested we table the discussion. I was grateful yet mortified.
Afterward, she pulled me into her office. “Today was a perfect example of you not trusting your gut, Karen. You could’ve stopped and said, ‘I don’t even remember why we were doing this in the first place. Let’s table it.‘”
Seriously? That would’ve never occurred to me. Could it really be that easy? I thought I had to do what my boss said, regardless of whether I agreed. I was so embarrassed.
“Why do I still need permission to speak up?“ I thought. “I’m in my 40s, for goodness sake! And I’m a senior leader with decades of experience. Why can’t I trust myself?“
Can you relate? All I wanted was to stop doubting myself and trust my voice rather than look to everyone else for permission.
What about you? You may have felt this way with a teacher, parent, or sibling, struggling to voice your ideas or opinions—struggling to find your voice.
I’ve coached thousands of women, and it’s an issue, even among senior leaders. It’s sobering to realize how many of us have had similar experiences.
Let’s talk about three tangible things you can do to stop looking to others for validation and start trusting yourself.
Choose and believe in your affirmations
One of my all-time favorite exercises to call in what you want to feel or be is affirmations. I’ve always been a big believer in personal growth, so it was an easy sell, but I still have to tell you I only “trusted the system.” I wasn’t 100% positive that they worked.
Here’s when I became convinced: a few years ago, I decided that I wanted to represent radiance in the world and be more of a light to others.
I chose the affirmation “I am radiant“ and started saying it all the time to myself, as well as putting post-it notes up on my mirror and around the house saying the same thing.
Within a short time, two people told me I was radiant. What?! One was in written feedback after a corporate training program I had facilitated.
I was stunned. Who uses the word “radiant” anyway? Especially in a corporate setting. I was convinced that affirmations work.
Here’s the key: pick a short phrase (I recommend one at a time) and repeat it several times a day. Write it on notes and place them all over your house: bathroom mirror, nightstand, wherever you’re going to see the affirmation regularly. It will help you lean into what you want to be.
Sample affirmations could be:
- “I am unstoppable.”
- “People love to hear what I have to say.”
- “I speak with confidence and clarity.”
- “I’m an incredible mom.”
- “I speak with power.”
- “I’m amazing at my job.”
- “I bring great value to the world.”
- “I’m lovable.”
Research suggests our subconscious best solidifies things either right before we go to bed or right as we wake up. If you recite the affirmations several times, it may help. In my experience, saying them a few times a day has been enough.
The whole idea is that this is an experiment to try on—give it a go and see what you discover.
Celebrate your strengths and positive attributes
Choose five people you trust from various touchpoints in your life, for example, work, family, friends, and community. Ask those five people to give you five strengths or positive characteristics or traits they see in you.
Once you get them back, you may be surprised at what people see in you that you may not even see in yourself. The beauty here is that you’ll get direct feedback to help you with a new perspective on how you come across.
Then you can choose what you take in and what you want to change. Either way, celebrating those strengths is a great way to see your positive attributes, and that alone can build confidence to help you trust yourself.
Related: Why is Self Confidence Important?
Name your inner critic
This one is fun. Do you know the negative voice in your head? The one who says all those awful, discouraging, and judgemental things? If your inner critic had a name, what would that be?
The logic is to name it—that act of naming takes power away—the hold it has on you.
My inner critic’s name is Gertrude. She’s tall, skinny, with long gray hair that’s pulled up really tight in a bun with wire-framed cat-eye glasses that sit halfway down her nose. She’s always holding a clipboard with a pen judging me.
The idea is to have it feel like it’s outside of yourself. Then I could say, “Oh, Gertrude, just relax. It’s going to be fine. It doesn’t have to be perfect.” That also gives the critical voice feeling some levity.
In my work now with thousands of people, the biggest themes of self-doubt are:
- Imposter syndrome (you think you don’t belong or deserve a seat at the table)
- Fear of judgment
- Fear of rejection
- Fear of rocking the boat
- Fear of not being accepted
- Fear of not being liked
So many themes exist—it can feel overwhelming sometimes.
The key is to hit your self-doubt head-on and know that you’re not alone. We all have it. The question is, how much power does it hold over you? Commit to staying in control of it so it doesn’t control you.
John M. Jaramillo, MBA, MSOP
Leadership Performance Coach and Consultant | Founder, Coach It Out, LLC
Know what you want and decide where and with whom you need to focus your attention
There is nothing wrong with seeking validation from others. We don’t know who we are without knowing where we stand with others. Our value is either addressed and celebrated by others or not. That’s how we know where we stand and what we’re made of.
We need to take the temperature of our work in life, work, and business—and that starts with the impression we make on others. And we need that acknowledgment from others.
It’s an age-old need, programmed into who we are as humans. We’re a tribal creature, with most, if not all, of us needing our core to run in a pack.
Our primitive ancestors had a better chance of surviving in a group they contributed to and saw their value than if they took a chance trying to make it out on their own. There was and always will be safety in numbers.
Safety is our most important need; without that basic physical need, we won’t be able to accomplish much else. We still feel that. But today, it takes the form of social acceptance.
But like anything else, moderation is key. There has to be a healthy balance to anything we need or do—enough to serve its purpose but not so much that it cripples us.
We need enough validation to feel our message, value, and worth are excepted without our identity becoming solely dependent on that validation—where if others don’t approve of what we’re doing, we shut down, hold back, and withdraw into ourselves.
If we restrain ourselves too much, pausing or stopping who we are because there isn’t always validation for our actions, we lose who we are.
Again, seeking validation from others can help us. It’s feedback, letting us know how we’re doing, what we’re good at, and where we need improvement.
Here are some starting tips to help ween ourselves off the validation of others if it is something we typically seek to an unhealthy extent.
The first three go hand-in-hand but require further clarification here. The last two you can proceed with after you have a good grasp on the first three.
Be happy first
Before anything—even the other tips—what do you want for yourself? And no, “Making others happy” is not a valid response. That should be residual to what you want for yourself and what makes you happy.
You should find what makes you happy in and of itself that then is appreciated by others.
Take social media, for instance. What could you do for yourself that would make you happy without anyone else knowing? That you’d be happy, fulfilled, and satisfied, and no one else knows about it. You wouldn’t have to post it. Be happy first.
Related: 25+ Benefits of a Social Media Detox
Understand your relationship with the validation of others
Figure out for yourself how much you need the validation of others. There’s a certain level of validation you need to be successful in what you want to accomplish.
Let’s not lie to ourselves. We can’t go it alone. To be successful socially, personally, or in business, we need the validation of others—the understanding and confirmation that what we’re doing is understood and appreciated.
So, understand where it’s truly needed and where you’re seeking it because that’s how you’re programmed (but which provides you no value).
Where do you really gain value to move forward and be better, and where is it solely making others happy? (Again, this is an exercise for you to take care of yourself. You need to make sure you’re getting what you need.)
Reflect on who you truly are and what you really need
Aside from knowing you must be happy first and then understanding what validation means to you, what is it you want to achieve in life, work, and business?
Your path should be about planning and getting to those goals through smart tactics and steps, but it doesn’t mean pleasing everyone you come across. You need to decide where and with whom you need to focus more of your attention.
Where is your highest ROI regarding relationships and learning with others that gets you to your goals? You can’t be spreading yourself too thin.
Where and with whom does it make sense to seek validation as it relates to your specific goals? And this isn’t about solely taking value from others; value is a process of constant give-and-take.
Expand your circle and audience
Get out there and meet new people. You may find people that are more connected to what you want to achieve, a group with which you can form a more symbiotic relationship.
That’s the biggest pitfall in this question of validation: People tend to think constantly giving of themselves is the noble and right thing to do. Yes, giving of yourself is important. But make sure you’re getting value back in some form.
What leads to frustration in most professionals and a practice that leaks into their personal life is that they always fight to impress the same old people while getting nothing in return.
Instead, it is a game of numbers, one of trial-and-error. But finding the right people for you can help you achieve the right level and appropriate type of validation.
Do your due diligence
You need to know what you’re good at. As you practice your craft, you can run it by your trusted circle to get better. Again, validation is essential, but it’s where you get it from and how often you need it to function that’s important.
You should be doing the work of your craft regardless of who’s watching. You need to craft and build what you want before showing it to others. So, do the work and understand the value you can provide to others.
You’re a unique being with unique skills, experiences, and knowledge. There’s something you can provide that no one else can, but you have to find what that is.
Your strength comes from the inside, not the outside (that unhealthy validation we’re talking about).
Licensed Clinical Psychologist
Accept yourself unconditionally
Validation-seeking behavior has its origins in childhood attention and validation deprivation. The same can be said for a child who receives negative attention, destructive criticism, verbal/psychological abuse, or other forms of abuse.
It all begins with infancy and involves a mirroring process between the mother and infant that is either lacking in emotional nourishment or good enough to result in a reasonably balanced child.
Later efforts to establish meaningful attachments succeed or fail, often due to the infant’s early experiences with parental attachment.
A child deprived of attention and validation, or a child that receives a steady “diet” of the wrong form of attention, craves attention and validation into adolescence and adulthood. The craving becomes overwhelming, and the appetite for validation becomes insatiable.
The attention/validation-deprived child becomes developmentally fixated, and the developmental impasse and corresponding fixation that follows turns a deprived child into a deprived adult child.
The pattern of validation-seeking behavior often translates into maladaptive personality styles and relationship dynamics.
The validation-deprived individual often seeks validation in a more dominant person, and the validation-seeking member of the partnership finds themselves in the role of pursuer.
The person they pursue may initially be gratified by that person’s emotional over-dependence, but being a “god” can be exhausting, and so the sought-after person often begins to assume the role of “distancer.”
This triggers fears of abandonment in the pursuing party, and the pursuing person seeks validation even more vigorously. The desperation drives the other person even further away. Thus, the validation-seeker finds themselves caught up in a self-fulfilling prophesy that ensures they will feel more invalidated than ever before.
Societal reinforcement for validation-seekers
Society, and social media, in particular, reward or punishes validation-seekers by the number of views, likes, or streams. These measures are held up as standards upon which one is judged compared to others.
Seeking and ultimately not finding a satisfactory and sustaining level of validation on social media can contribute to the development of often severe mental health problems manifested in such conditions as anxiety and depression. Some go as far as suicide.
Getting off the validation-seeking roller coaster
The first step to getting off the validation-seeking roller coaster is to realize that if one is deprived of validation, no amount of validation from others will ever be enough.
The validation must come from within, or to the extent that a person is spiritually-minded; that validation can come from one’s higher power.
In some cases, it will be necessary to seek professional help to discover the specific origins of one’s validation deprivation and then begin the work of repair. A validation-deprived psyche is a damaged psyche, and since it was damaged through self-hypnosis, it must be repaired through self-hypnosis.
Self-hypnosis begins when a young child forms certain conclusions about their self-worth or lack thereof, based on their observations of how others (initially parental figures) treat them.
If they are treated poorly by those they are most dependent on for validation, they assume they are not good enough, less-than, or unworthy of love and validation.
So the child forms the unconscious conclusion that they are nothing without the constant validation or approval of others. Then, as they grow older, any experience of rejection is used as a justification for self-discounting and self-invalidation.
Positive self-affirmations are not enough to break the cycle unless those positive self-affirmations are felt on a deeply emotional level. This is self-compassion. It can’t simply be taught. It has to be practiced, and the practice cannot only occur in one’s head.
De-hypnosis involves a commitment to first become aware of self-invalidation in the form of negative self-talk every time it rears its ugly head.
Once a person recognizes and acknowledges the problematic thoughts that leave them in a state of constant invalidation, one can openly challenge such thoughts and replace them with self-validating thoughts.
But once again, the de-hypnosis, and re-hypnosis that is accomplished based on a more realistic picture of oneself, must take place in the heart, not only in one’s head.
Accept yourself unconditionally, in your heart. That form of acceptance, combined with an awareness of the futility of validation-seeking behavior, is an important first step.
The rest may take a long time and require therapy, but anything a person can do to kill the craving for constant validation from others will be worth its weight in gold.
Lena Suarez-Angelino, LCSW
Licensed Clinical Social Worker | Writer, Choosing Therapy
Learning to seek validation from others is often taught from a young age. As a child grows up, praise is awarded to quiet children who perform well in school.
This means that validation comes in the form of compliments such as: being such a good student, not causing trouble, and being described as an easy-going kid.
If this was not your childhood experience, you might have been at risk of developing a narrative that you are not important or as well-liked as the other kids because you were not receiving this type of praise.
In both cases, children are taught the value of receiving and experiencing validation from others, including parents and teachers alike.
Here are some ways to stop seeking validation from others (and even some tips to start modeling for your own children or younger siblings).
Remember you are worthy regardless of performance, awards, or trophies
As a child, your parents or teachers may have only celebrated when you received the highest grade on an assignment or test or punished you if you got anything less than that.
This type of experience teaches children to base their worth on their successes and to discount any effort in trying their best, deeming this as “not enough” or equivalent to failing.
Saying you didn’t win the Olympics because you placed second sounds discouraging, right? I think even having the mindset it takes to compete at an Olympic level is impressive. Quite honestly, having the mindset and dedication of any athlete at any level is outstanding! You are worthy regardless of performance, awards, or trophies.
Highlight qualities related to appearance vs. personality
While some qualities, such as being quiet, easy-going, etc., can also become a form of “people pleasing” and wanting to seek validation from others, there is less of a chance of this developing.
In childhood, when compliments are given to a child’s physical appearance, it can ignore the beauty within. There is a higher chance of developing eating disorders, anxiety, depression, etc., as they enter adolescence and young adulthood.
The inability to cope with changes to their physical appearance becomes something so far out of their control they have difficulty adjusting. When focusing on qualities based on personality, these have less of a chance of changing with age.
Stop comparing yourself to others
One of the most effective ways to stop seeking validation from others is to stop comparing yourself to others.
Easier said than done, sure, but the minute you are able to build your own self-worth and confidence without relying on others to provide it for you, you will be unstoppable.
No matter what you do, where you go, and how hard you try not to have someone disapprove of you, there always will be someone.
Learning to live life with satisfaction and purpose for you, and (only) you — aside from family being a close second, your life is guaranteed to change.
One of the ways you can do this is by using affirmations, especially spending time each day looking at yourself in the mirror and saying affirmations aloud.
Another way is to remember that every time you get up and try something, regardless if you have done it before, you start from day 1. There are so many factors that can impact our day 1 of trying something in high school, college, or even when it comes to parenting.
Give yourself grace and recognize that as long as you are trying your very best for that particular moment, you are worthy. That “best” is not up for judgment, criticism, or discussion.
Rachel Davidson, MA, LPC-A
Licensed Professional Counselor Associate, Malaty Therapy
Learn to find validation from within rather than externally
Why do we seek validation from others?
Often, we find ourselves looking to others for approval, advice, and validation. There seems to be less risk when someone else makes a decision for us.
If things end up going wrong, it’s not our fault. If someone we view as successful or intelligent tells us we are worthy, it’s easy to believe it, even if we don’t necessarily feel the same.
In times of need, it is healthy to rely on our support system for help, but when does it become unhealthy? When we depend on others to make our decisions or make us feel valuable, we lose a vital component of our self-worth and confidence.
We get into a habit of looking to others for direction rather than relying on ourselves, and over time, we begin to forget that we are capable of making hard decisions or that our thoughts and feelings are valid.
As humans, we want to feel validated, but if we’re not getting that validation from others, where do we get it?
The challenge is to learn to find validation from within rather than externally. This requires learning to trust that our thoughts and feelings are valid, learning to trust ourselves.
One component of trusting ourselves is having self-compassion. This means we take it easy on ourselves and recognize that we are doing our best in any given situation.
We make mistakes and learn from them, just like everyone else. Our challenges and mistakes make us who we are, and no one else has the same set of experiences as we do.
When we recognize this, we learn that we are, in fact, the experts on our own lives, and more often than not, we have the answers and validation we need within us.
Start small by affirming yourself
Making the shift from seeking external validation to finding validation within is no easy task, especially when this is a habit we’ve lived with most of our lives.
Start small by affirming yourself. When faced with a task, pay attention to your thoughts and notice if you have an inclination to go to someone else for validation. Just seeing this is the first step.
The next step is to challenge this inclination. Do you have any evidence that you can figure it out on your own? What is something you can tell yourself to help you believe it?
When you push back against the urge for external validation, you begin validating yourself in small ways. Over time, you will build up a collection of examples of times when you succeeded on your own accord without needing external validation.
This is an empowering feeling and will not only change how you handle situations in your life, but it will also change the way you view yourself for the better.
Healing childhood trauma releases our need to feel validated by others
What is validation, and why do we crave it? Oxford dictionary describes validation as the recognition or affirmation that a person or their feelings or opinions are valid or worthwhile.
What causes us to question ourselves in the first place? Why do some people appear confident in sharing their opinions and feelings without needing recognition or praise from others, while some of us second guess ourselves?
Our need for validation is a direct result of suffering from deeply rooted emotional wounds typically occurring in very early childhood.
Why does it hurt so bad to be abandoned, rejected, ignored, betrayed, or violated? How do these wounds affect our perspective and ability to live life?
Let’s take a closer look at the emotional wound of abandonment, as it ties directly into our need for validation.
Suffering from the wound of abandonment in early childhood often triggers life-long repercussions. Abandonment can be literal in instances where a parent leaves, dies, or in some way gives up on the child.
For example, situations in which a child is given up for adoption or orphaned. It’s important to note that the abandonment wound can emerge in various ways, some of which are much more subtle.
Small children can feel abandoned when:
- Mom/dad becomes busy with a new baby (particularly true if the new baby has special needs that require lots of attention). To young children, it can feel overwhelming to witness a mom/dad paying attention/tending to their new sibling while feeling ignored themselves.
- Mom/dad goes to work daily, leaving very little time to be with the child/children.
- They are taken to a hospital due to illness/physical condition and have to stay for any extended period—even if parents visit daily, children can still become imprinted with the feeling of being abandoned.
- Parents take them to stay with a sitter/relatives while they go away.
- Mom or dad is very sick, and the other parent is too busy/absent to look after them.
- Parents are withdrawn, unable/don’t know how/aren’t willing to communicate openly with the child.
- They are deprived of physical nourishment (especially if this happens before the age of 2).
- Mom and dad are present and provide attention, but it is not the type of attention you would have liked to receive. As a result, you felt suffocated (for example, a parent who is overly strict in situations that do not warrant this type of rigidity).
When we suffer from the abandonment wound deep down inside, we don’t feel sufficiently nourished with affection.
It is very common for those of us who suffer from this wound to slip into a victim mindset while simultaneously looking for validation from the people we surround ourselves with.
It can feel like we constantly try to feel important enough to receive attention. To someone with the wound of abandonment, a lack of validation/attention from someone means that we cannot count on that person.
While we feel like life is happening to us and we are victims of unfair life events, we may not realize that—in many cases—we are actually attracting/ dramatizing these occurrences (subconsciously) to receive attention/validation.
When we do something for someone, we love the feeling of being acknowledged, of being complimented, of feeling important (all forms of validation).
The wound of abandonment can make us feel like we need attention and support from others; we’ll ask for other people’s opinions and feel like we need approval from others before making decisions.
When we feel validated, we feel loved.
Deep down inside, we take on the belief that says straying from what is acceptable (i.e., voicing a viewpoint, opinion, or feelings that are not validated) is dangerous.
Lack of validation, to us, equates to the feeling of not being loved, and this leaves us susceptible to being abandoned all over again. Subconsciously this is our worst fear, and we will do everything in our power to stop the wound of abandonment from rearing its ugly head.
How do we begin to heal?
Begin to observe your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors with curiosity (not judgment).
When you run into difficult situations, you may notice thoughts like:
- “What will happen to me if I have to deal with this all by myself?”
- “What will happen to me?”
You may begin to notice a pattern of behavior in which you see yourself doing everything you can to avoid being abandoned.
You may notice how often you feel compelled to act in ways that attract attention, or you may struggle with the fear that if you ask for too much, your loved one(s) will get fed up and abandon you.
In extreme situations, this can lead to you being in relationships that others would find intolerable (for example living with an alcoholic or abusive partner.)
You may find yourself afraid of leaving these types of situations in an effort to avoid your worst fear—feeling unsupported and alone (abandoned). You may even tend to remain oblivious to red flags as you do your best to believe (or hope) that everything’s fine.
Understand that deep down inside, you’re afraid of speaking up. If your partner wants to end your relationship, you will undoubtedly suffer, having been oblivious to your problems, it will feel like you didn’t “see it coming” or expect that decision.
It might feel like you can’t bear to think someone doesn’t like or love you, and you may feel like you’re willing to do anything in your power to change that. This stems from the subconscious desire to feel like you’re being taken into consideration and that you matter.
Your best course of action is to give yourself support
If you find yourself clinging, hanging on, or doing anything in your power to avoid abandonment, your best course of action is to give yourself support.
Find a mental image of something that supports you emotionally. This could be a beloved family member, friend, mentor, pet, spirit animal, or (depending on your beliefs) even an image of an angel, saint, or spirit guide.
When you catch yourself in moments of sadness or despair, don’t let yourself down by falling into the trap of thinking you can’t manage alone (even if it feels like you aren’t getting support from outside of yourself).
Remind yourself that you can always count on yourself to provide encouragement
Remind yourself that you can always count on yourself to provide encouragement in the form of gentle, supportive self-talk and gradual shifting of your thought patterns.
At first, it may feel scary—even impossible—to voice your opinion, emotions, or thoughts with the possibility of not being supported by others; your goal is to remind yourself that you are stronger than you know.
You can support yourself in the following ways:
- By first observing your thoughts without judgment.
- Pivot away from fearful and self-critical thoughts when you catch them, pivot your thought patterns, and choose kind, loving thoughts that feel supportive.
- Change your self-talk by speaking to yourself in a supportive way (use the same words that you would like to hear others say to you)
- Releasing the victim mindset by acknowledging your individual sovereignty and personal freedom to think, act and feel how you want to.
As you consistently practice supporting yourself mentally and emotionally, your perspective will become clearer and clearer, and in time, you will feel more confident than ever before.
Assess why you are seeking validation in the first place
Most of the time, we seek validation if we are experiencing an emotion that is a little too overwhelming for us.
So ask yourself: “What emotion is coming up for me?”
- Is it loneliness?
- Feelings of shame or guilt?
- Feelings of sadness or stress or overwhelm?
When you can actually identify the emotion you are experiencing, it is easier to find adaptive ways to cope.
Take note of your urges
What are the emotions driving you to do?
- Is your urge to post that picture on Instagram to receive likes?
- Call that friend to ask if it is a good idea to text that guy for the third time today?
- Is it to pour yourself a glass of wine and create a video to post to your youtube channel?
Our urges are driven by our emotions, which can lead us to seek out validation even if we know logically that it isn’t the best idea.
Pause without taking action
Take a step back (literally or in your mind). Give yourself space from the emotion and the urge. Tell yourself that you are putting this all on pause for just a moment.
Take slow, deep belly breaths
Focusing on your breath, breathe out slowly and for a longer period, then breathe in. This is a surefire way of regulating your nervous system and, in turn, regulating your emotion.
Make a decision about what you need at that moment
After identification and regulation, ask yourself: “Is there anything else I need at this moment besides validation?”
Maybe it is a break from your phone, a walk, a meal, to watch that show you have been watching on Netflix, a nap, or self-validation (i.e., I am okay at this moment, I will get through this day, etc.)
Or perhaps you say to yourself, “Actually, I do need the validation at this time, though now I can ask for it more effectively instead of text bombing or posting that risque picture to Instagram.”
Overall, asking for validation from a friend or family member isn’t necessarily a “bad” thing. We all need validation from time to time.
It’s when we are consistently seeking validation from others that it can become an ineffective way to soothe ourselves by depleting our self-respect and hurting our relationships with others.
Lucy Smith, Ph.D., Jamie Wilson, Ph.D., and Avery Hoenig, Ph.D.
Licensed Psychologists, Inspiration from the Couch
Learn to listen to and trust yourself
Imagine you want to know your temperature. So you take out your thermometer, ready for your reading. First, you put it in your significant other’s mouth, then your mom’s mouth, then your friend’s mouth, then your boss’ mouth.
What? You’re taking everyone else’s temperatures to find out your own? Sounds kind of silly, eh? Yet this is precisely what we do when we rely on others for validation.
Put the thermometer in your own mouth
When we want to feel okay about who we are, how do we rely less on others and instead offer validation to ourselves? We start by putting the thermometer in our own mouths.
Here are three easy steps:
- You catch yourself seeking validation from others, and you pause. You have to know you’re doing this before you can change it.
- You tune in to yourself. What are you feeling? What do you want? What do you need?
- You practice self-compassion. Imagine what you would say to a dear friend in a similar situation, and try saying those same words to yourself.
Consider creating a mantra that you post someplace you’ll often see (e.g., on a post-it note or your mirror with a dry-erase marker). Some of our favorite mantras include:
- “I am enough just as I am.”
- “I am worth so much more than how I look or the number on the scale.”
- “I am a Badass!”
Trust that you’re already enough
We’ll often notice patterns in our validation seeking, which can point the way to tender parts of us that feel insecure and not enough. (Note: we are all human, so we all have these tender and insecure parts. There is no getting rid of them, so the trick is knowing how to take care of them.)
People commonly look for validation with their appearance and job performance to see if they’re likable, if they matter, and around decisions, they’ve made.
In short, when we seek validation, we’re really asking, “Am I okay? Am I enough?”
When you learn to listen to and trust yourself, you’ll feel more secure and confident and naturally seek less external validation from others. More self-validation + less external validation is the goal!
We all need others in our lives, and we all need validation from others. We just want to rely more on ourselves. We want to put that thermometer squarely in our own mouths, as that’s where you’ll get the most accurate reading.
Adjunct Professor and Motivational Speaker
Own your story; it gives you power, and it’s worth telling
Like many, my story includes verbal, psychological, and physical abuse at the hands of the “cradle rocker” in my life.
Embarrassment from walking in years of pain for the lack of childhood validation created a lifelong battle of up and down esteem issues. They say, “the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.”
If there is ever any substance to a cliche, this is it. My world was ruled by a lack of validation—I have several advanced degrees, and I teach at a higher learning institute. I am a motivational speaker. Yet almost daily, I went toe-to-toe with the need to feel validated by others.
Regardless of my many accomplishments, I never felt I belonged at the high-profile tables. The lack of validation, negative affirmation, and tearing down of character and self-worth sealed those thoughts deep within my psyche.
I knew they were not true. However, no matter how much I tried to describe myself in positive ways, subconsciously, years of negative words refused to loosen their grip on me.
It wasn’t until I was encouraged to “own my story” that I became free from being bound by the lack of affirmation. Owning your own story suggests you have a story worth telling. It belongs to you, and sharing that story does two things.
First, it gives you power. Telling my story gave me the strength to own the good and the bad. It helped me contextualize my journey by identifying the places I got stuck. It helped me realize what I accepted as my issues weren’t my issues at all.
I took the inability and or bad space others in positional power over me and owned their space instead of owning my own space. I came to realize their story was not my story.
Their inability or unwillingness to see my value did not equate to my lack of value. I relinquished the power to validate myself based on where there were instead of my own dreams and goals.
Owning my personal story and lack of validation blemishes not only helped me put my personal narrative into perspective but also empowered me to affirm myself.
I realized that while we all have a human need to be validated by others, validation began with me. I had misplaced my power of validation. I looked for others to give me what I had missed growing up. I looked for them to do what was meant for me to do for myself—validate me!
I now validate myself through affirmations I speak, write out, and own—the good, bad, and ugly are all part of my own story. I own it all.
However, the difference is I no longer allow experiences or people to define and validate me.
- I own my story.
- I choose to be the first to affirm my personhood and my future.
- I own myself and refuse to ever relinquish my self-worth or esteem ever again.
- I affirm myself.
Caitlin Magidson, NCC, LCPC
Cultivate self-honoring beliefs about yourself
I’m not sure if the goal is to stop seeking validation from others because it’s a normal part of life. We want to have a sense of “I’m ok” or “I belong,” and sometimes looking to others provides that.
It can be problematic, though, when you put all your sense of self-worth into the opinions of others. It’s risky to externalize your sense of self to others because your worth could be stripped at any time.
What’s healthier is to notice when you’re looking to others for validation and remind yourself that they can have their own opinion and that you can have a different one.
Feedback from others is subjective, so you get to decide how much of it you want to affect how you see yourself.
Cultivating self-honoring beliefs about yourself without anyone else’s input allows you to hold on to your sense of self no matter what others say. It’s human to want approval from others; it’s important, though, to consider when it does not serve you.
Awareness is the game changer
When you observe your thoughts, you create distance and can observe them more objectively.
When I think, “I want him to say I look pretty,” I can say, “Oh, I’m having a thought that I want him to comment on my appearance.” Seeing the thought allows you to be curious about it.
Ask yourself, “what’s the deeper desire I really want from his validation?“
Maybe the true desire is to:
- Feel loved
- Feel like enough
- Feel safe
When you get to the root of what you are genuinely seeking, you can remember that you don’t need to feel enough from someone else. Your enoughness is already within!
Not all thoughts are facts to get curious about what is truly serving you and see if you can give yourself the recognition you seek.
Do you acknowledge your accomplishments during the day? Do you celebrate your personal wins? See if you can let yourself take those in to give yourself the deeper desire you seek. You’ll build more internal trust and confidence within yourself.
Jared Heathman, MD
Psychiatrist, Your Family Psychiatrist
Build trust and confidence from within
Seeking validation from others is a common behavior and is acceptable on occasion. Yet if this behavior becomes a habit, it is crucial to recognize and acknowledge that you do not need someone else’s approval to have high self-esteem or succeed.
Related: Why is Self Esteem Important?
If you find yourself seeking consistent validation from others, this can be undone by building trust and confidence from within.
Accept all parts of yourself
One way to build confidence and trust from within is to accept all parts of yourself. This can be uncomfortable, yet when you accept yourself for who you are, you may recognize that you do not need others’ approval because you know the truth about yourself.
Focus solely on what makes you happy
Another way to stop seeking validation from others is to focus solely on what makes you happy without thinking about what others may have to say.
Related: How to Make Yourself Happy
Doing so will increase confidence and trust within, allowing you to stop comparing yourself to others and to stop questioning your own judgment.
Often, we measure ourselves against family, friends, peers, and those we see online through social media. This is unfair to ourselves because we never know the mental, emotional and physical journey of those to whom we compare ourselves.
Strive to create a balance of accepting who you are while also thinking about areas in which you would like to grow. When considering growth areas, think of the best version of yourself, not someone else.
Be kind to yourself
Lastly, another way to stop seeking validation from others is to be kind to yourself. Remember that everyone has areas they can grow in, and we are all on our own journey.
While increasing your self-esteem, confidence, and trust from within, you are bound to make mistakes. It will be essential to remember that everyone, including those you compare yourself to, will make mistakes. These mistakes are learning experiences that will lead to gaining confidence, trust, and self-esteem.
It can take a lot of intentional work to replace the habit of seeking validation from others, but this habit can be stopped with time and practice.
Growing your self-esteem, confidence, and trust from within is an ongoing process that can be exciting when approached with kindness towards yourself.
James R. Elliot, ABNLP, ABH, TLTA
Life Coach Trainer | Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) Trainer, Unleash Your Power
Only compare yourself to who you were yesterday, the day before, and the day before that
Only when we do the inner work can we release this and truly love who we are—so that we don’t really care what others think about us.
We need to look back at all the past failures and events where we were hurt in our lives and get the positive learnings from that—how we are better, faster, stronger, more persistent, and resilient. How that actually taught us to be better, more empathic, whatever.
We also need to realize that when we are worried about what people think about us and trying to seek validation, it’s, of course, to please and seek validation and to make others like us because we don’t truly love ourselves internally.
We need to realize that even though we’re worried about what people think about us, they’re not actually thinking about us anyways—they’re so worried and wrapped up in their own stuff they are concerned about what other people think of them.
They’re not really paying attention to what we’re doing! And if they have nothing to do but judge or put us down, then they’re not really valuable people who you should even want in your life or want to like.
Instead of judging and being hard on yourself and comparing yourself to others, only compare yourself to who you were yesterday, the day before, and the day before that.
- Are you getting better?
- Are you growing?
- Are you learning?
- Are you achieving and persevering through the challenges?
Life is too short to seek validation from others and not be our raw and authentic empathetic selves. Imagine the cost of guilt, grief, and shame and life lived when we’re not just authentically us and overly worried about what others think about us.
We need to find ways to love ourselves. One great way to start doing that is to write down all the positive and unique things about you.
Ask your friends, family, etc. And the other thing is to say, “I love you” to yourself, mean it, and look into your eyes, every time you pass a mirror or your reflection.
Lastly, find ways to do the inner work—whether it’s:
- Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP)
- Inner child work
This will truly set you free.
Danielle Dellaquila, LMSW, CBT, DBT
Senior Associate Therapist, Gateway to Solutions
Seeking some level of validation from others is expected; however, it becomes a problem when the only validation you are seeking is coming from external sources.
Seeking external validation and self-esteem go hand in hand. When we do not trust our own opinions about ourselves, we tend to look to others for approval.
If others think highly of us, then we feel good about ourselves. However, if others do not think highly of us, we feel we are not good enough. The problem here is we’re basing our self-worth on the opinions of others. Over time this can lead to even lower levels of self-esteem and confidence.
Validation and your views of yourself should mainly come from within, and if this is an area you want to work on, luckily, there are ways to practice this.
Determine your own values and what is important to you
Consider the following questions:
- What is most important to you in life?
- What values do you want to live by?
- What type of person do you want to be?
- What do you hope to contribute to the world? What are your main goals in life, and why?
After determining your own values and goals, ask yourself if you are living according to those principles. If you’re not, ask yourself what you can change about how you live your life to start.
Knowing what is important to you, rather than what is important to others or society, is an essential first step to stop seeking external validation.
Everyone has different values and goals, which is okay—knowing what yours are and aligning the way you live your life with them will allow you to start giving yourself internal validation.
Pay attention to your critical self-talk and recognize your strengths and accomplishments
Being self-critical can often lead us to seek external validation from others. Work on recognizing when you doubt yourself or think negatively about yourself.
Write those negative thoughts down, and then think of a way you can rewrite them more positively.
Related: How to Get Rid of Negative Thoughts?
Also, pay attention to your strengths and accomplishments. Keep a list of them on your phone and add to it every time you recognize a new one. When doubting yourself or comparing yourself to others, turn to that list and remember all the things that make you outstanding and unique.
Love yourself more and trust your own intuition
It starts with unconditional love—or lack thereof.
If you’re seeking validation from others, there’s a good chance you didn’t get enough of it growing up. Maybe your parents meant well. But they were busy and didn’t know how to make you feel unconditionally loved. Or perhaps they wanted you to be a certain way, which came across as criticism.
Other parents purposely made their kids feel bad—these parents were fighting their own demons and couldn’t give unconditional love and approval. They didn’t make you feel accepted.
Either way, not getting unconditional love and acceptance from caregivers affects a person for life. Those who didn’t get it are forever looking for validation elsewhere.
This often manifests as looking for outside approval from others. They depend on others’ opinions to validate whether what they like is okay.
This may manifest as small choices, up to major life decisions, such as:
- Taking a job that others will be proud of you for but don’t like.
- Wearing clothes or listening to music that your friends do, because that’s what’s trendy even if you’d rather choose something else.
- You might only post memes, articles, and photos that will get a lot of “likes” on social media. You may not want to voice your true ideas for fear of rejection.
- You may go along with whatever activities or opinions others voice. It’s too risky to rock the boat.
If you think this applies to you, you are not alone. It is prevalent today. Social media and oversharing have only made it worse.
So what’s the answer? How do you get out of this merry-go-round of doing whatever others want and expect of you?
As an adult, you can give yourself your own validation. It is a decision and habit. This starts with loving yourself more and trusting your own intuition. What do you love and want to do? What are your own preferences?
Even those closest to you who have your best interests in mind can’t always offer you the best advice. That’s because they don’t know what’s in your heart. They filter everything from their limited perspective.
Share less in general. Stick with your inner circle, and keep most of your affairs private. That way, others don’t have any information to judge you for.
Know what you prefer, and decide before sharing it. Unless you truly aren’t sure. In this case, it can be helpful to do more soul-searching.
Don’t give others a chance to disapprove of you
If they do, don’t feel invalidated. Realize everyone has differing opinions, and we can still be friends and get along.
Don’t take it personally. It is coming from a place from their own limited perspective and what they would personally prefer for themselves. It has nothing to do with you. Love yourself.
This is a practice and doesn’t happen overnight. It will feel weird at first. But keep at it to maximize results.
If you need more help with this, read more about building self-confidence and setting boundaries in your relationships. It would also speed up your progress if you hired a confidence or relationship coach.
Certified Rapid Transformational Therapy Practitioner | Founder, Emerged Butterfly
Get to know the core of you
Know your values, what’s important to you, what matters to you, and what you believe strongly in.
When you know who you are, your core values, and your strengths and weaknesses, you are self-conscious.
When you have a good idea of who you are, you have a fence outside of you that protects you from the judgments or negative criticisms of others. Because you know yourself well, you don’t need to seek external guidance on your values or look to others for direction on your purpose.
You are clear on what you want and why you want it.
Keep learning and growing
When you push your comfort levels and challenge yourself to learn, you are growing, and this increases self-respect. You understand that you can be better on your terms.
Taking such an approach towards learning will equip you with the drive and courage to try new things and keep a growth mindset.
When you’re on a path towards learning and discovery, you understand that there will be times you feel a lack in skills or knowledge, but you can always learn; you need not rely on others, and there’s nothing you cannot do.
As you gain self-respect, you lose the desire to please others or have others validate you.
Seek validation from the right places
Understand that people who give you advice need not always be the person you need advice from. We often look to others for guidance based on how much we trust them and not how experienced they are in helping us.
Imagine your parents are 9-5 workers all their life, and you’re interested in becoming an entrepreneur; you’ll probably not be encouraged to seek business advice from them. As much as they care for you and want you to succeed, they don’t have the expertise to guide you on a path they are unfamiliar with.
Self-praise works so much better than getting complimented by another because there is no agenda attached. When you praise yourself, there is no hidden reason other than wanting to feel good about yourself.
Praising yourself boosts your self-esteem more than receiving an affirmation from your boss, co-worker, partner, or child. When you praise yourself, and you let in praise, you grow in confidence and self-love.
You reduce the inclination to seek external validation because you simply don’t need them.
Appreciate your experience and what you bring to the world
We can often be our worst critics. What we are an expert at, we might believe the majority of society has the same knowledge as us, but that’s not the case!
We all come to this world with a gift within us—whether it’s musical talents, the ability to be an active listener or an amazing sports player, we all have something special within us.
Just because we’re good at something doesn’t mean everyone else is good at it.
Acknowledge your strengths and give yourself credit for the things you do right. When you see yourself for your goodness, you rely less on others to approve of you.
Jocelyn Hamsher, LPC, CST
Professor and Course Creator | Licensed Professional Counselor, Courageous Living AZ
When we are in a pattern of getting our worth and value or validation from others, it can be challenging to disrupt the pattern. However, if we want to lead authentic, healthy lives, we need to learn to seek internal validation versus external validation.
Here are three tips to help with that:
Explore trauma history
When we struggle with other-esteem or validation, it usually stems from unresolved trauma. Whether it be attachment trauma, childhood trauma, or relational trauma, all can impact how we see ourselves and how we interact with others.
When we can work through that and heal, we have a better sense of self and more assurance of who we are.
Improve your self-confidence
When you are confident in who you are and what you are doing, you do not need others to validate that.
When you have the inner knowing that you are important and have worth and value, you show up differently. You can improve your confidence through therapy, self-discovery work, affirmations, etc.
Work on your codependent behaviors
Codependency stems from a lack of self-identity and an over-investment in other people, their beliefs, and opinions.
Usually, when we seek validation from others, it is due to wanting to please people or gain acceptance. This can be a crippling practice when it creeps through different areas of our lives.
To work on codependent behaviors, you can attend Co-dependents Anonymous, read books such as “Facing Codependence” by Pia Mellody or “Codependent No More” by Melody Beattie, and, of course, work with a therapist.
Related: How to Break Codependency Habits
No matter the root of the desire to gain validation from others, healing is possible, and you are worth it!
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Birmingham Maple Clinic
It’s essential to interrupt these incessant thoughts
Seeking validation is a normal part of the human condition. From infancy, it’s a foundation of a healthy bond and helps a young child learn and develop an awareness of and confidence in their own instinct and surroundings.
If a child hears a loud sound and is startled and the parent opens their eyes and mouth to confirm it was surprising, the child feels understood and understands that loud noises can be scary.
When the parent assures the child things are fine, and the situation is fine, the child can trust their parent’s validation and assessment of the situation and carry this trust in the form of security, attachment, and attunement moving forward.
A child with this healthy attachment can internalize their parents’ validation and carry it with them through their lifetime.
Conversely, in an upbringing where there is parental neglect, abandonment, uncertainty, absence, erratic behavior, or other forms of trauma, a growing child cannot trust their parents’ assessment and must rely solely on themselves. What they see around them in the form of peers, TV, etc., determines normalcy.
In these cases, people often know or believe their assessments are inaccurate. Therefore, they look to others to understand the world around them—right from wrong, and appropriate behavior and emotional responses.
In some ways, looking for validation is adaptive, but in cases when it interrupts daily life and preoccupies the mind in greater intensity or duration, then it’s essential to interrupt these incessant thoughts.
- Do you have internal sources of validation?
- Are there parts of yourself that are confident and wise?
- Do you know what your best friend, favorite teacher, or therapist would say without even talking to them?
- What would you tell a friend or stranger if they asked the same of you?
Then challenge irrational thoughts about yourself or others
- Are these other people subject experts?
- Do they know more than you about the matter?
- Are you certain they are confident in all of their assessments?
- Are you certain they feel “normal” about everything they do?
- Have you had experiences they haven’t had?
Check your limiting beliefs
Limiting or false beliefs about self, others, or situations can often lead to anxiety which is a feeling of fear. Anxiety presents in many different ways and is different for every person.
Anxiety is neither good nor bad; however, we can have negative responses to anxiety.
One of the ways this anxiety can manifest itself is by seeking validation from others that negative limiting beliefs about yourself, others, or situations are not true. Limiting beliefs can look like:
- “I’m not good enough,”
- “I’m not doing a good job.”
- “They don’t like me.”
In order to combat seeking validation from others, when it comes to anxiety, you must first acknowledge your triggers for limiting beliefs by recognizing in what situations you seek validation from others and the limiting beliefs attached to those situations.
Think about what happens or what thoughts you have right before you begin to seek validation. One exercise would be to write down when you notice that you’re seeking validation, who you sought it from, and next to it, write the trigger.
Secondly, evaluate the root cause of the limiting beliefs and what life experiences have led you to have this belief.
This means assessing your childhood, traumas, relationships, and other interactions to determine what inherent beliefs you have gathered over the years that contribute to your overall belief systems. Look for common themes.
Third, once you know your triggers and root causes, you’ll have to take ownership of learning new coping skills, behaviors, and responses when these limiting beliefs and seeking validation comes up in your life.
Finally, create a plan of wellness to continue and maintain your new coping skills, behaviors, and responses.
Your wellness plan is like your action plan that you can utilize when negative responses to emotions arise. It can include your triggers, coping skills, and support system.
Ask yourself what is of primary importance to you at this stage of your life
- Evaluate how far you’ve come and how far you want to go.
- Begin to believe in your own desires and how to meet them. If it’s hard to truly believe in yourself, ask why and address those questions creating a new direction you can feel proud of.
- Give yourself credit for this constant self-reflection.
- When you feel the urge for validation for all these feelings and ideas, ask yourself what the other person has that makes me need their validation, then work toward having that very quality in yourself.
Kara Nassour, LPC, NCC
Licensed Professional Counselor, Shaded Bough Counseling
Write down at least one positive thing every day
It is impossible to live without needing others’ validation completely. We are social animals that depend on each other to survive, so we also have to pay attention to what others think of us.
But it is possible to gain more confidence in yourself so that you are not dependent on validation to be happy.
I recommend that people write down at least one positive thing about themselves, or something they did, every day. Over time, this trains your brain to look for and recognize your strengths, and it becomes easier to see yourself in a positive light.
In effect, you are training your brain to validate yourself and provide your own positive feedback.
Develop self-compassion by writing your feelings down
It’s also helpful to develop self-compassion. You will feel sad, anxious, insecure, guilty, and uncertain sometimes; this is an unavoidable part of being human.
You might seek validation from others to soothe these feelings, and in moderation, that’s fine. But you will be stronger and less overwhelmed if you can soothe yourself, too.
To develop self-compassion, I suggest writing down your feelings as if you were speaking to a caring friend. Then read over what you’ve written, and think of what you’d say to a loved one who told this to you.
Write down that caring, supportive response, and try directing it toward yourself. This exercise teaches your brain to validate, accept, and give comfort to your negative feelings so that you can feel more at ease with yourself. The more you practice it, the more natural it will feel.
It takes a long time for most people to develop a strong enough sense of who they are that they don’t depend on validation from others.
Usually, people in their teens and twenties struggle the most, and it slowly gets easier with age. But by learning to validate yourself and recognize your own strengths and feelings, you can grow in this faster.
Dre Merkey, AMFT
Associate Marriage and Family Therapist, Thrive Therapy & Counseling
Look at your values and find ways you connect to them and where you don’t
Validation is something we all need as human beings and has been a way of learning and growing since the beginning. We learned to speak, walk, eat, and explore from the modeling of our caregivers and were praised when we aligned with what’s expected of us—this is a form of validation.
Validation can become harmful when we start relaxing only on the validation from others and forget to check in with ourselves.
Remember, as we grow into our own personhood, we get to decide who we are and what defines us—this is pertinent information to know and guide us to find validation from within.
To help explore this further, look at your values and find ways you connect to them and where you don’t.
Do you feel guilty when you aren’t aligned? Well, you’re not alone because guilt comes from acting out of your integrity and can be a tool to guide you back to your truth, honoring your own journey.
Note that guilt and shame are different, and if you are experiencing the narrative of “should’s” or identifying with an overly critical version of yourself, then you are likely experiencing shame that’s not yours to hold and has been projected onto you.
The journey may be difficult at times, but when you stand in your power and truth, you start to rely on your own validation first and look to others to accurately mirror what your wisdom already knows.
Certified Narcissistic Trauma Informed Codependency Coach and Narcissistic Abuse Specialist, Bloom & Become
Focus on yourself and heal the inner child wounds at the root cause
Seeking validation from others is a codependent trauma response.
We seek validation from others when we lack a strong sense of self. We suffer from a lack of self-belief and self-trust that has resulted in us outsourcing decision-making and gaining our self-worth outside of ourselves.
Codependency, codependent behaviors, and this lack of “self” is a collection of protective behaviors that were often developed in childhood.
When our emotional needs aren’t met as children, we begin to think we aren’t good enough simply for being ourselves and develop coping mechanisms to keep our parents/caregivers happy.
We learn ways to make them happy at the expense of ourselves, which keeps us safe in childhood but becomes problematic in adulthood.
Gaining the approval of others allows us to feel good about ourselves in turn, makes us feel worthy.
How to break the cycle?
To stop seeking validation from others, we need to focus on ourselves and heal the inner child wounds at the root cause that are causing this codependent response around being overly dependent upon how others view us and what they think of us.
Doing the work of healing our inner child wounds allows us to feel good enough for who we are at our core and not by seeking others’ validation.
Retired Army Sniper and Combat Applications Instructor | Motivational Speaker
Our desire to seek validation stems from our relation to and belonging to the world around us.
As social creatures, humans desire a sense of belonging and acceptance from the communities we reside within. If this acceptance is part of our nature, you may wonder how receiving validation could be harmful.
Yes, receiving feedback from our world is normal and can help us thrive in most cases. However, when humans seek validation for everything they do, and their self-worth becomes wrapped in another belief, this is where what is a natural piece of our DNA turns poisonous.
The question then lies in how we can become validation free yet still maintain our need for community.
Flip our view from the external to the internal
First and foremost, we must flip our view from the external to the internal. One of the most significant pulls for being validated by others is the result of a lack of trust in ourselves.
Trusting our intuition is a sign of a strong relationship with ourselves and is key to not seeking validation from the outside world. For this to happen, many of us will be forced to fix the relationships we have with ourselves.
Base your decisions on your values
An easy way to start making tough decisions on our own is to establish them off the alignment of one’s values. The answer is clear if doing or not doing something does not align with your belief system.
Find the right tribe
Having people we can use as counsel is critical. The first key is not to depend on their insight to decide.
Next, we must find people that encourage us to live life on our terms and that will support us regardless of what we decide. Finding your tribe may take some time, but it is worth it once you have the right people in your life.
Again, your tribe should align with your values and mission in life; moreover, support you even if you do not heed their advice.
Stop and look at the progress you have made
Lastly, from time to time, stop and look at the progress you have made. We can attain quite a bit of confidence by leveraging past wins.
Knowing we are more than capable of making the right decisions for our life becomes more accessible as we take these moments to pause and think about how far we have come and the previous hurdles we have jumped over.
Have faith in the gifts you already have
The more faith you have in the gifts you were born with, the less need you will have to seek validation from others.
What are those powerful gifts?
- Natural self-esteem
- Natural confidence
- Natural love for yourself
These qualities are your birthright, and no one or no event can take them from you. The only thing that can block you from feeling them is the seriousness with which you take your own thinking.
If you give energy to the thought, “you’re not good enough,” you block your innate love for yourself. That thought is probably coming from a childhood-file cabinet that suddenly popped out — you don’t have to take it seriously!
Remember you already love yourself
Many personal growth modalities encourage “loving yourself again.” It’s an innocent misdirection. You already love yourself — you were born in this state. It’s just the belief you give your thoughts that stops you from feeling it.
Have you noticed that when you get into a really beautiful mood you suddenly felt good about yourself, you approved of yourself? In the Spiritual world, they call it raising your level of consciousness, which is just a fancy way of saying getting in a better mood.
Have you ever felt really overwhelmed by life, and then your three-year daughter smiled at you, and in one split second, that feeling of overwhelm disappeared?
She just fanned up your natural state of happiness, which was always there.
Look for a nice feeling
Look for a nice feeling, and point yourself in a nice direction.
Mine is the forest. I get out with the trees, and suddenly my love and approval of myself are back. It was always there, just blocked, like the clouds blocking the sun.
I encourage clients to have “go-to-places” where they know they get in a better mood. In my book, “The Shaman & His Daughter,” the “Feeling Led Zeppelin” chapter says it all.
If I listen to Zeppelin, I quickly return to my innate feeling of joy and self-esteem. Keep a list of go-to places handy and go towards them — go with what works.
Speaker | Contributing Author | Transformation Coach, One Bold MF
Seeking validation is cured by finding out who you are
Before you had a chance to know what was happening, the way you experienced your childhood set the stage for the validation you crave from others. When you turn to validation from others to make you feel good, you are really searching for evidence that you are worthy.
External validation is a coping tool you use to build your self-esteem. The bad news is you can’t go back and change what happened in the past.
The good news is you have complete control over what you do from this day forward. You are in charge of your decisions, thoughts, and actions. You are the only person who can change your life.
The first thing you can do to end your need for external validation is practice self-love. It’s straightforward but challenging. There is nothing more empowering than loving yourself and putting your needs first.
If you work on yourself, your mindset, your goals, and your health, you will no longer seek the approval of others. Hire a mentor or coach to help you shortcut the process. When you know who you are and what you want, you will build unshakable self-esteem.
As you continue to build your self-esteem, you will learn to trust yourself more and more. You will rely on the opinions of others less as you continue to grow.
You will leave behind the need to compare yourself to others. Instead, you will:
- Establish boundaries
- Say “no” to things you don’t want to do
- Speak up for what you want
You will discover a new kind of freedom you didn’t know you had.
You will find unshakable faith in yourself, your abilities, and what you bring to the world because you have worked to become the person you want to be. Your confidence will soar as you continue to keep promises to yourself.
Seeking validation is cured by finding out who you are. When you know who you are, you can work on becoming the best version of yourself possible where the opinions of others no longer influence you.
Get clear on your unique values
Often one’s desire to seek out validation from others is influenced by their self-worth. When a person believes their value is based on how much they are loved, approved of, or accepted by others, they will continuously seek out signs of approval.
When one relies too heavily on this external form of validation, there is typically an internal struggle—for example, questioning whether it is better to do things that make others happy or pursue their own interests.
One way I support my clients in decreasing their need to seek validation from others is to get clear on their unique values.
By writing down what is most important to them, they gain clarity on whether their life choices are aligned with their values versus what is being influenced by other’s opinions or expectations.
This becomes their guide in making big and small changes in the future—changes that foster greater self-worth and trust.
Mental Health Practitioner
Develop introspection and find the source of why you put your self-worth in others
Where does seeking validation from others come from? And what can I do to stop it?
It is crucial to start with why we seek validation from others. When we are born, our worlds revolve around us and our individual needs. Our parent’s job is to care for those needs without question (feeding, sleeping, playing, changing diapers).
As children, we are taught what our family, school, and society expect of us. This teaching comes from our parents, teachers, and childhood friends. It is influenced by the overall expectations of the society you live in.
Then when we become teenagers and young adults, we typically rebel against the constraints and expectations placed upon us and reassert our individuality. As we go further into adulthood, we merge the expectations of others and society with our own inner desires. Ideally, we combine the two in harmony.
Unfortunately, this natural progression can get disrupted at any phase of development. If our needs were not met when we were an infant, we become dysregulated and detached from the world. Many people end up believing there are worthless, and that can lead to self-destructive behavior.
If our teachings during childhood are too severe and punishing, the need for external validation gets tethered to the inner need for safety. The need for safety and fear of losing it will reinforce the power of the validation of others that control our lives.
If, during the teenage years, you are not allowed to rebel and reassert your individuality, you will learn to suppress and ignore your individual desires.
You will then replace them with the expectations of others. You may also replace it with nothing, which will lead to a sense of feeling lost and life feeling pointless.
Any combination of these disruptions will negatively affect your self-esteem as an adult and may tether your self-esteem toward the expectations of others, whether it be your parents, your boss, your romantic partner, etc.
How do you stop this? You need to develop your introspection and find the source of why you put your self-worth in other people’s hands. You learned it at one point. And like everything that you know, it can be unlearned.
Typically, it requires a mental health professional. But you can start the process on your own through self-exploration using techniques such as:
Keep asking yourself why? Why do I worry about what my parents think? I’m an adult now, but I’m still scared to upset them. Why?
Keep asking why until you get to the foundation of the fear that keeps you a servant to the expectations of others. Once you know why the fear is there, you can begin the process of letting it go.
Mental Health Counselor Intern | Founder, Holistic-Momma
Understand your limits and set boundaries
Seeking validation can come from a people-pleasing mindset. This can be related to how you were raised or taught how to treat other people.
As a former people pleaser, setting boundaries is challenging but satisfying if done correctly. Setting boundaries means saying “no” to people and being okay with them becoming disgruntled.
This does not mean being mean or hurtful intentionally, but more understanding of your limits.
For example, being asked to help a friend who asks for weekly help, so they do not have to hire help.
You can state, “I love you and care about you, but I am unable to help you, but I can suggest some resources for you to gain additional help.”
List your strengths and weaknesses
A simple way to do this is by writing a list of your strengths and weaknesses. Focus on your strengths, utilize them and take note of them.
Acknowledge your weaknesses as things you are not good at, which is okay. If those weaknesses are things that you would like to improve, then you can accept them as your weaknesses or areas for improvement and focus on one or two.
The combination of these two things can help you:
- Focus on improving yourself.
- Find joy and satisfaction in meaningful close relationships.
- Avoid looking for the approval of others because you know who you are.
Theater Arts College Professor | Podcast Host, “Cycle Chats“
Seek validation from yourselves
I think the way we stop seeking validation from others is by seeking validation from ourselves. We always speak to our friends and loved ones so kindly, but for some reason, when it comes to communicating with ourselves, we can be very mean.
We need to start being better to ourselves, genuinely taking time to have mirror moments where we ask ourselves about ourselves.
If you keep looking outside for validation, nothing will make you happy. You must first find happiness from within because once you are entirely you, you will find you do not need anyone else.
Take time to get educated, evolve, and empower yourself to be the best version of “you,” and everything else will fall into place.
Relationship Expert, Texas Divorce Laws
Counter the negative thoughts in your head
Everyone’s worst critic is themselves. Your confidence will suffer if you speak negatively, harshly, or critically to yourself.
So, take the time to be aware of these thoughts as they arise, perhaps through journaling or meditation, and pay attention to how they make you feel.
When you do, acknowledge the ideas and challenge them with affirmations of your worth and capability. Try to replace negative thoughts with more uplifting concepts that make you feel wonderful.
Try to surround yourself with nice people
When you are surrounded by individuals who don’t support you, the desire for approval may start to grow. It’s crucial to have at least one person in your social circle who lifts you since those people will leave you feeling insecure and constantly seeking acceptance.
That individual might be a colleague or mentor, or they might be a social media influencer who can inspire. Other people’s voices that emphasize how significant your contribution to the world is are what you need to hear.
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