The Need for ValidationFeb 25, 2022
We all crave validation. It's a natural human instinct to feel accepted and liked by others, and this is especially true when it comes to our decisions and the things we do in life. We want other people to tell us that we're on the right track, that we're doing things correctly, and that we're making wise choices. But, unfortunately, if we rely too much on validation from others, it can be a negative thing. This blog post will explore the need for validation and discuss why it's essential to find balance in this area of our lives.
Why are people seeking validation?
To validate means to confirm, support, or recognize something. Most people feel the need for validation. When other people validate what we do and believe, we feel encouraged and get a sense of belonging that other people think and act like us. Growing up in a strict environment where your parents must approve everything you do can make a person reliant on external validation. For example, a person with low self-esteem and confidence might feel the need to be affirmed by other people to move forward and make decisions in life. Nothing is wrong with seeking approval and validation sometimes. However, if seeking validation becomes the focus of why you do things in life, you can bypass your beliefs and values. You will do something for the sake of somebody else's approval, even if it's not right.
There are two types of validation: external and internal. When you search for articles about external validation, you will mostly see others advising you to stop doing it. What they are referring to is preventing excessive external validation. The rise of social media makes it easier to seek validation from others in the form of a thumbs-up or heart icon. The problem comes when you reach the point where all the things you do are for the sake of seeking validation from others. Unfortunately, this kind of phenomenon is prevalent in our society today. Many people post pictures, videos, or information about themselves or what they are doing to garner attention and confirmation from other people, and some do it excessively. Even if you tell them their behavior, they will probably say they just like doing it. Still, deep inside, there's that subconscious behavior that they want people's opinions and comments because they want validation. Being validated gives a particular rush in your head, making you crave more.
So what's wrong with too much external validation? It becomes a necessity. Your decisions and actions in life become influenced by what others say about you. Without the approval of others, you might think a particular activity is wrong because others don't approve of it. What's more, when people don't affirm what you do, you can suffer from anxiety and end up not taking any action due to the absence of other people's opinions. Your feelings and values turn into what other people value. All these can affect your mental health and hinder personal growth. So we must practice some restraint regarding approval-seeking behavior, and there are some ways to do that.
Stop looking at others too much - If you are the type of person who likes to keep on looking outside the window to peek at other people's lives, you might form the tendency to seek approval from others first before you feel confident doing something. Other people might not exactly be authority figures or experts at what you desire, so their opinion might not necessarily be correct. And even if somebody is an expert, you have to consider if what they say aligns with your own beliefs and feelings.
Take a break from social media and the Internet - Social media and the Internet have provided new means to look at other people's lives and escalated the need for outside validation. So if you're hooked on these things, seeking affirmation from others becomes more tempting. To limit your approval-seeking behavior, you can limit your social media usage, stay away from it for a while, or stop it altogether if you can.
Understand yourself and be more aware of your actions - Some reasons you look at others too much is that you lack confidence or have a low sense of self-worth. So you turn to external sources to confirm your existence and validate your actions. If this is the case, you should start believing more in yourself and practicing self-love. Accept that you have your flaws and that other people also have theirs. You can't always rely on others for improvement, so you also have to learn how to improve yourself. Try to be more aware of your actions, especially when making decisions, and observe your reasoning for doing such things. It also wouldn't hurt to trust yourself more.
If too much external validation is not good, then does it mean it's okay to indulge in self-validation? Yes, but don't overdo it. Doing the things we mentioned above to limit validation from others can make you orient more towards validating yourself. Nothing's wrong with this, except there is a catch. When you practice too much internal validation, it can lead you to think that other people's opinions don't matter as long as you do what pleases you and gives you satisfaction. This mindset can make you selfish and apathetic towards others. You won't mind doing something even if it is morally wrong since you don't care about other people, and feelings of entitlement can creep on you. This way of thinking is still a problematic situation. So what's the proper method for handling validation in your life?
The answer is keeping a balance between seeking validation from others and learning how to validate yourself. First, we form our truths from what others say and what we see in the world. Then we should use our judgment in line with our beliefs and feelings to confirm whether something is the truth and acceptable in the right way. When you rely entirely on one side, whether external or internal validation, it can skew the truth of things. You must learn to balance the validation you gain from others and yourself and use your judgment to seek the value you want.