The modern world is becoming more and more individualistic and as for me, an introvert, it’s a great thing. We don’t have to rely on other people and relations with them in order to survive and succeed. Yet many people remain dependent on validation from others. Let’s find out what behavior can be considered as seeking external validation and why you don’t need validation from others.
According to Cambridge Dictionary, validation means the feeling that other people approve of and accept you or something that gives you this feeling.
Examples of validation-seeking behaviors
So, what behaviors signify seeking validation from others? Examples of validation-seeking behaviors are: active sharing opinions and too many details from personal life as well as so-called communication on social media in the form of getting and giving likes, reactions, comments; trying to prove your point of view; buying things considered cool in society; people pleasing like for example, inability to say no, disagree or tell the bitter truth; inability to stand up for yourself and complain or make a remark; trying to draw attention to yourself either in a positive or negative way; being afraid to be wrong or to be criticized, etc. This list can go on and on and on. Let’s look at the above-mentioned examples of validation-seeking behaviors in more detail.
Seeking validation on social media
People who actively share their opinions on social media; people who share unnecessary details from their life; people who post perfect photos from photoshoots instead of posting photos from their real life; people posting photoshoped photos where they look impeccable; people who make posts with congratulations or condolences; people who tell their followers about their troubles, etc. all want to get some sort of validation from others. It’s unlikely that a person who died will read a post about them, right? So what are all those posts intended for? The truth is that those posts scream “look, I am nice”, “look, I am beautiful”, “look I am smart”, “look, I have friends, I’m popular”, “look, I’m rich”, “look, I’m better than you”, “look, my life is fun”, “look, I am successful”, “look, I have people who love me”, “look, how cool my boyfriend/girlfriend is”, “I want attention”, etc. People want to boast, to let others know about their success, get attention, likes, reactions, comments, and messages on social media that would prove to them that they are worthy, they are accepted and approved of, they are good members of society. Who truly doesn’t need validation from others – doesn’t pay attention to social media. People who don’t need external validation mostly live offline or share something on social media for other purposes like saving memories, making money, or sharing beautiful content they genuinely like and want others to see as well. Everything that is shared out of pride or out of the desire to get acknowledged or draw attention to yourself, is validation seeking.
Trying to prove your point of view
Trying to prove your point of view and to convince someone who has a different opinion on the matter than your opinion is the only right opinion is validation seeking. You probably have hard times dealing with criticism and disapproval. What you want to hear is that you point of view is valid too or right because you’re smarter than your opponent.
Buying things considered cool in society
If people didn’t care about what society thinks of them, everyone would just wear what’s comfortable, buy only what’s needed and that would probably be sports clothes. If people weren’t seeking validation from others, there would be much less or even no consumerism. Before buying something, ask yourself: do I need it or do I want it because I want to seem cool/beautiful/attractive/rich/successful?
People pleasing is such a broad topic. What can be considered people pleasing? Well, for example, you didn’t like some service but you decided not to tell anything about it and maybe even to leave tips because you didn’t want to seem rude or put someone in an awkward position by complaining. So you just swallowed it and left your money for something you’re not satisfied with.
Another example is inability to refuse doing something because you don’t want to seem rude; offend someone; seem poor if you’re refusing to buy something you don’t need; seem boring if you don’t want to participate in something; seem not smart enough if you don’t want to attend some event; seem not feminine enough if you don’t want to wear dresses, do makeup or curl hair to impress your new boyfriend, etc.
Yet another example of people pleasing is pretending to be happy when seeing someone we don’t care about, faking smiles, and making insincere compliments. Apparently, for some people the opinions of people they don’t really care about are still more important than their own opinion about themselves. It makes them let unimportant people like someone they went to school with 10 years ago or someone they worked with 5 years ago define them. Isn’t it sad?
So, people pleasing is everything you do when you put someone else’s interest first, instead of putting yourself first. Read more about it in Self Care Is Making Yourself Your Priority. People pleasing is behaving in an unnatural way, sacrificing your own comfort, needs, time, opinions, etc.
Being afraid to be wrong or be criticized
Being afraid to be wrong or criticized is seeking validation. No one wants to be disapproved of. Most people want and actively try to fit in even if it means to betray everything they believe in and pretend to believe in something the rest believes in. People who are afraid to be wrong or to be criticized will most probably try to please people in order to avoid conflicts.
Trying to draw attention to yourself either in a positive or negative way
It turns out that even when we want to show society on purpose how different we are (whether in a positive or in a negative way) instead of keeping it to ourselves, we secretly crave validation. In this case, we want to seem smart, intelligent or just in any way better than the rest.
Of course it’s not the full list of validation seeking behaviors and taking into consideration how different all people are and their different past experiences that influence the feelings and thoughts that drive them, I am not sure there is or will ever be an explicit list.
Why you don’t need validation from others
The sooner you realize that a lot of things you do are just validation seeking in disguise, the sooner you can get rid of trash thoughts instilled in your mind by society and become a person you can respect. Your own opinion about yourself is the only opinion that truly matters. Your self-validation is the only validation you truly need.
The good thing about validation seeking is that once you recognize it as the true reason for some of your actions, you can find what causes this need for validation. For example, if you want to show everyone how beautiful/girly you are, in reality you just want to attract people which means that you might feel not attractive enough without the actions you take to look more attractive (like doing nails, curling hair, wearing dresses, etc.). Another example, if you would rather buy an item several times more expensive than a similar one just because it is from a famous brand and has a logo on it, you probably want to show others (whether it’s a salesperson selling the item or your friends on Instagram or Facebook) that you can afford it which means that you have some psychological issues with money due to some past or present experiences in your life. It’s easy to find the root cause behind validation seeking and it’s a great start for solving your psychological issues. You don’t even need a psychologist to start unraveling the tangle of psychological problems, you just need awareness and determination to curb the behavior you don’t want to depend on anymore.
Everyone seeks validation from time to time but when it becomes constant and a person becomes dependent on other people’s opinions, it’s super unhealthy and can cause troubles or even ruin the life of this person because they don’t know what they want from life or are too dependent to stand their own ground. Constant validation seeking is a sign of low self-esteem. If you have self-validation, you don’t need to prove anything to anyone. Read How to Be More Confident and Succeed in Life and Confident People vs Unconfident People: What’s the Difference.
The need to be approved of leads to anxiety. People who seek approval and get it regularly in the form of likes, reactions, comments, reposts on social media or praise, compliments, etc. in real life may develop some sort of addiction to it which then leads to them becoming anxious if they can’t or don’t get a new dose of validation. People who don’t get external validation may develop passive aggressive behavior.
Are people addicted to validation from others happy? Can a person who has to get external validation in order to feel good or give up their opinions to seem nice and fit in society be happy about this? I don’t know. Ask yourself because we all seek validation sometimes. For me, the answer is no. No external validation and the soothing comfort being in a group provides is worth living my entire life pretending being someone I am not. I don’t want to be fake to be accepted in society and deemed a good person. I know for sure that being fake is bad for my mental health.
It’s difficult to stand alone, be misunderstood most of the time or even judged but it’s not the end of the world and trying to convince someone who has a different point of view that your point of view is right is neither worthwhile nor healthy. “I stopped explaining myself when I realized people only understand from their level of perception.” When we stop seeking external validation, we become free and true to ourselves. We can finally find out what is important to us and build the life we are content with.
If you don’t want to be a slave to your ego that lives in fear of being disapproved of or rejected and craves validation from others, before doing anything, ask yourself: is this what I truly want or is this what my ego wants for its unhealthy reasons?
To help you on this journey of discovering what person YOU really are, there’s a number of blogposts on Mindfulness Inspo: