Seeking validation from others is one of the biggest enemies of every human being because the need for the approval of others kills freedom and blocks your true self.
This is what is happening inside the mind of a person who is prone to validation seeking:
“If I wear that one outfit, my date will think that I’m too casual and not trying hard enough. If I don’t compliment her/his hairstyle, they’ll get mad at me (even though I think their previous hairstyle was better).
If I don’t look awesome in this photo, I won’t get many likes on social media. If I do this or that, they will criticize me and think that I’m insane. But if I manage to meet their needs and behave in a certain manner, they will like me.”
It is estimated that the world population has reached 7.8 billion people. Now imagine what kinds of scenarios would occur in every human being‘s head if every single one of us was seeking approval from other people.
Can you imagine how many imaginative monologues a validation seeking person has on a daily basis? Or the wide array of things and all the possible details they need to focus on in order to seek external validation?
Constantly seeking approval from others is a tiring process and worst of all, it is a process that prevents you from thriving and reaching your full potential.
Why Do We Seek Approval And Validation From Other People?
So, one of the biggest questions of all is: Why do we have this tendency to seek validation from other people, aka to care about what they think?
Every single one of us has come into the world alone. From our mother’s womb, we entered the world’s womb with a mission to find our purpose and become the best version of ourself.
Every single one of us is a unique human being with our own special quirks and flaws.
Every single one of us has our own preferences, hobbies, job and our own path so why do we need others to approve our actions and validate our thinking?
Two of the biggest reasons why some of us seek validation from others are because of low self-esteem and self-worth.
We seek validation from other people when we’re fighting with self-acceptance because we need them to make us feel worthy and to boost our self-confidence.
We replace our self-approval with others’ approval and this practice greatly influences how we function in our daily lives.
We become afraid of disappointing others and we turn into people pleasers who have lost their own worth and self-respect.
Sometimes our tendency to seek approval is a learned or innate behavior and other times it is something that develops over time:
1. A learned behavior
Every child sees their parents as role models. The truth is, children learn by observing their parents’ behaviors and they tend to mimic their words and actions.
If one or both parents are constantly seeking recognition and approval from other people, their child will think that this is something they should be doing too.
For example, a mother has bought a T-shirt or a dress and she doesn’t want to wear it until she talks to her friends in order to get their approval.
Perhaps this is a banal example but I’m sure there are plenty of females and males who do this on a regular basis.
They need other people’s validation because they are not sure about their own style and tastes in things. And there lies the real danger for mental health!
Because of this, such people never or seldom develop their own opinions on different things in life (from work and hobbies to T-shirts) because they are primarily concerned with what society will tell them about their words and actions.
2. An innate behavior
Sometimes seeking the approval of others has nothing to do with learned behavior but it is deeply rooted in our DNA. If generations of people before you had validation seeking problems, the chances are you will develop the same issues.
In a way, we inherit habits from our ancestors and sometimes those habits are toxic while other times they are quality habits like living a holistic lifestyle (eating healthy food, going to the gym, etc.) and similar.
An innate behavior is harder to change or influence but you can still significantly decrease levels of validation seeking with practices that will be explained below.
3. The need for self-validation
How do you feel when you say or do something that other people approve of too? You feel great, right?
You get the feeling that you’re doing it right because other people agree with you and they support your opinions or actions.
A positive response from other people often becomes addictive and that’s why we tend to seek more and more approval in the future, just to feel good about ourself and others.
Imagine that you did something awesome that was approved by someone you really dig (like a celebrity or an influencer). You would be on cloud nine, right?
While appreciating other people’s opinions is desirable, overly worrying about it and constantly seeking their approval and validation is toxic (regardless of whether they are a celebrity or a regular human being).
How Is The Need For Approval Affecting Your ‘Performance’?
If you’re overly worried about other people’s approval, you might start procrastinating (avoid doing things just because you’re too anxious about the possible outcomes).
You want them to like and support everything you do even though you’re aware of the fact that this is impossible.
That’s why you choose to do nothing instead or postpone things because by hibernating, you’re avoiding potential disappointments, judgy behaviors and similar.
Procrastination can be a really dangerous thing because you might decline new opportunities and all other things out of fear that you’ll fail at them and not succeed in meeting other people’s expectations.
2. Doing too much
The opposite of procrastination is doing too much all the time.
It’s when you’re determined to do everything right, to take every new opportunity and to literally be perfect in every aspect of your life, from your appearance to work. You might be a high achiever but this comes at a price.
So, you end up in an endless cycle where you’re constantly seeking perfection just because you want to avoid being criticized by others or disappointing them in one way or another.
By being too hard on yourself, you bring anxious thoughts, constant worrying and restlessness into your daily routine.
You’re constantly focused on pleasing everyone around you, overworking yourself to the point of exhaustion and you never say no to other people regardless of whether their requests are demanding or things that you don’t really want to do.
3. Not being in touch with yourself
Overly worrying about other people’s approval and validation blocks your own opinions. By only being focused on meeting other people’s standards and their needs, you’re neglecting your own wishes and desires.
You start to lose touch with yourself because you don’t know what it is that you really want in life, what makes you fulfilled and happy so you basically live mechanically.
You get stuck in a boring, regular job just because this is approved by society and because you haven’t developed your own thinking.
Your personality is shaped by other people’s thoughts and beliefs instead of your own. You start feeling lost and as if you’re a stranger to yourself.
Not being in touch with yourself blocks your path to true happiness and reaching your full potential, which is a bad thing.
How To Stop Seeking Validation From Other People
1. Boost your self-love and self-acceptance
If you want to let go of the need to seek approval from others, you need to start focusing on yourself.
You need to stop seeking love and acceptance from external sources because that practice is toxic (especially in the long run).
Instead, you need to focus on the internal source that is within you. Start working on building your self-acceptance and boosting your self-love because that’s the only way to getting in touch with your true self.
Letting go of the need of approval from other people means opening doors that were there in front of you this whole time but you just weren’t aware of them.
Once you enter these doors, you will realize that you don’t need other people’s approval in order to feel worthy.
One of the best ways to get in touch with yourself and realize your worth is by keeping a journal on a regular basis.
Make a list of the things you like about yourself, write down your recent choices and achievements or some valuable lessons you’ve learned or just write about how you feel about certain things and situations.
Basically, write about whatever comes to your mind because by doing that, you will start understanding yourself better, which is the key to getting in touch with your true self.
2. Stop seeking other people’s approval for your choices
“I don’t want to watch this movie because I don’t want to be judged by my friends or family because they don’t approve of it.
I don’t want to wear these trousers in public because they might look weird to some people even though I like them a lot.
Even though I’m not interested in watching football, I’ll still do it just because I want to make my partner happy. I don’t want to go for a walk at this hour because people will think I’m crazy.”
Read and re-read the above sentences if needed to realize the toxicity of those statements. Also, don’t get me wrong about the last one.
There’s nothing wrong with making other people happy but constantly doing something you don’t enjoy for the sake of earning praise from others is not healthy. As always, compromising is the best bet.
You need to understand that you may not share the same points of view with other people and that’s more than okay.
As a matter of fact, it’s necessary because diversity is what makes us different and unique. So, stop being a puppet who dances to other people’s tunes by doing everything THEY want.
It’s time to ask yourself: What is it that YOU want?
Do you want to watch that movie, wear those ‘weird’ trousers, watch a movie instead of football or go for a walk at 3AM? If the answer is yes, then that is what you really want and you should pursue it!
Turn off other people’s thoughts in your head and turn on your own. Once you stop seeking approval and start creating your own rules and making your own choices, you’ll realize the beauty of your own being.
3. Evaluate your tasks and actions
In order to prevent yourself from seeking the approval from others, you need to evaluate your tasks and actions.
Whenever you’re about to do something, ask yourself whether you are doing it because you believe it’s the right thing to do or if you’re doing it for the sake of seeking other people’s approval.
Make a list of the things that you suspect you’re doing only to seek validation and make sure to avoid doing those things in the future. The most important thing is to become aware of your own words and actions.
Once you target that you’re doing something just because you want to please others and get their approval, it will be easier for you to stop doing it.
Most of the time, people are not even aware of the fact that they are doing something just because of others, so once you become aware of it, half of your job will be done.
What Happens Once You Stop Seeking Validation From Other People
In one word (okay, two words): happiness happens. Once you stop seeking validation and recognition, you start validating and appreciating yourself.
You trust your gut, you start doing things that fulfill you and you feel FREE. You no longer avoid doing things that make you happy just because someone else doesn’t approve of them.
You discover who you really are and what really matters to you in life and you commit to those things.
Your passions, your dreams and desires reach their peak and you finally feel like an active participant in your life instead of a passive one.
You feel confident to widen your horizons, try new things, step out of your comfort zone, take more risks and face your fears.
Your self-discovery and self-love will help you become the best version of yourself because you finally know what you really want in your life, what makes you excited and what makes you you.
You start appreciating all your quirks and flaws and embracing your imperfections because you know that’s what makes you truly special.
You learn to respect other people’s opinions instead of worrying about them because you finally have your own.
Once you stop seeking validation from other people, you open the doors to vast opportunities, challenges, excitement and freedom.
You finally realize that the only thing that was preventing you from reaching true happiness was you and not others.