Why you should stop looking for validation and approval from others.
Updated: Jul 16, 2021
Have you ever thought why we need Validation and Approval from others?
I have realized a part of the ‘grown up’ me has mastered the art of telling people what they want to hear and hoping they find me impressive, while all the time worrying about what they think of me, fearing criticism and holding back what I really think! I guess it's a logical tactic which we all use – don’t we? We want to gain people’s approval and want them to like us and in return we feel good about ourselves – even if it's only momentarily.
We continue on this path for years – gaining others approval, pleasing them and getting a pat on our backs for making them feel good every once in a while. But do you realize that soon this will run it's course where the constant approval seeking behavior that worked for you and make you feel so accomplished will now backfire!
We seek approval from others – that means we are looking for validation of ourselves from outside sources. This also means that we are setting ourselves up for disappointment. We start living our lives to fit what others expect of us, irrespective of whether we want it or no. We adapt to not being our true to our own self and don’t want to be disapproved by others. This holds us back in exploring our own potential and we stick to the ‘safe’ way of doing things that will please others and give us the much-needed nod of approval. The constant anxiety to not fail in meeting their expectations is an added ‘bonus’. Sometimes you may find yourself so afraid of failing that one may give up even before you start.
Even High Achievers also seek for other's Validation and Approval.
Even people who are high achievers may find themselves caught up in the web of working hard getting results to impress others around them. It becomes their sole goal to be goal-driven that they end up overwhelmed with over work, people pleasing, avoiding taking breaks, and finding it difficult to say no in order to avoid stepping on toes. If you find yourself self-sabotaging your happiness – maybe it's time to change!
what are you losing over this?
Why is other's impression of you more important than what you think of yourself?
What will happen if you say ‘no’ once in a while when you don’t want to do the task asked?
Do you change your plans to accommodate others at the last minute?
The reason we all seek validation, unfortunately, begins in our childhood. We are taught to behave in a certain way which will get us praise and approval of our parents/elders. Good behavior gets rewarded (read approved) and bad behavior gets punished (read disapproved). Our major influencers shower us with love and affection for being ‘good’ and we soon follow the trap of tailoring our behavior to keep getting those nods of approval. We grow up feeling this constant need for validation to ensure we have made right decisions. We can also blame our DNA as humans – we have a deep desire to belong, to be included. Any rejection can be traumatic, hence the constant need for pleasing others.
So how do we overcome this
Ask where your need for approval comes from – usually it stems from your childhood where you were taught to respect your elders and never express your disagreements.
Make friends with rejection – start reflecting on the times you felt rejected and what did you do with it. Chances are you would have learnt from the experience and only grown further. Looking at rejection as feedback for the task and breaking it down to how to better it will help you get out of your comfort zone and push your limits.
Embrace a growth mindset – when you start prioritizing learning and improvement for yourself you will free yourself from the need for validation.
Focus on the process and not the results – usually we tend to attach our self-worth to the outcome of the task and end up not paying attention to the process. This is a sure-fire way to keep you wanting approval constantly. However, if you concentrate on the inputs, something which you can control, it can reduce the power that approval has over you.
In the end, the only person you need to answer to is yourself. The moment you start giving yourself the approval you need, you will be happy, fulfilled and liberated, in the true sense, in the long run. Freeing yourself from approval-seeking behaviors is the only way to honor yourself and taking care of your own needs. This is the path to set up for yourself for long term happiness.