Caring too much, or giving too much weight to outside validation, is a dangerous game to play. It is a fast-track ticket to putting your self-worth up for debate in front of others.
Validation should always come from within, first and foremost.
What seeking outside validation looks like
When we seek outside validation, we are often unsure of ourselves. We lack confidence in who we are, what we’re doing, and how we feel. And so, we look to others to confirm or approve of what we say, think, feel and who we are.
This, for me, is the biggest pitfall of seeking outside validation too much. You can fall victim to changing or hiding who you really are in order to fit in, be accepted, be admired, and be part of the group.
I get it, no one wants to be alone and the fear of being cast out is very innate in all of us because, in Caveman times, it meant death (being out in the wilderness alone was not advised).
But now, we won’t be eaten by sabertooth tigers, and so the new threat is loneliness.
I can tell you now, and so can great researchers and writers like Brene Brown, fitting in with the wrong crowd is lonely. Laughing and joking falsely to fit in and be validated socially is a sad way to live. Doing what others want and expect, while neglecting what you want from yourself, is a quick path towards depression, resentment, and a wasted life.
We are all guilty of harassing our friends and family when we need to make big life decisions. What should we do? we ask, hoping that someone will have the answers.
But the thing is, this is largely about seeking outside validation, or at least, it is a reflection of how little trust we have in our own decision-making abilities.
Yes, others may be able to provide insights into our situation that we didn’t think about ourselves. Fair enough. But if you are someone whose natural instinct is to ask “what should I do…” then you need to get honest with yourself and find out why.
Why do you keep asking for advice? Why do you think it’s appropriate or safer to put this decision in someone else’s hands?
Is it because you’re afraid to make the wrong decision, and so if someone else agrees with you or chooses for you, then the guilt and shame is out of your hands?
Or is it because you are unsure and so if someone who you think is smarter or more confident agrees with you, then you feel surer and so it’s suddenly ok to move forward with your decision?
Creating, sharing and posting for likes = seeking validation instead of posting authentically.
Authentic social media posting is just you being you and putting it out there without concern for likes. If you’re constantly checking how many likes and comments you get on a post, then it’s likely that you either posted without authentic intention in the first place, or you seek outside approval for self-esteem and dopamine hits.
Likes and comments = I’m good enough and worthy.
No likes or comments – I’m not good enough, I’m unworthy.
This is a dangerous mentality to have. It is a breeding ground for low confidence, self-loathing, comparison, anxiety, and depression.
Remember, validation should come from within. You should feel good about the post yourself, regardless of what anyone else thinks.
And the aforementioned point leads me into this one: seeking likes, comments and followers to build this perfect, worthy, cool, validated external image of yourself and your life.
We look at people with millions of followers with envy. Why? Because their popularity must mean they are the perfect image of how a person should be. What a person should do.
Wrong, but we’re all guilty of thinking this way at times.
And it’s not just online. It’s seeking an image of success by giving in to consumerism and materialism. Obtaining the success image of the car, clothes, tech, hair, home, etc. in the hope that you will be validated as being a worthy person, thus giving you that fast gratification and a confidence boost.
But in the end, it gets us nowhere. There’s never enough. You’ll never be enough that way. The car, clothes, likes, or outer image doesn’t change the turmoil you feel inside. You’ll keep seeking outside of yourself, buying more and more, and never feeling whole.
How to stop seeking outside validation
Ask yourself, who are you trying to impress or prove something to and why?
Are you asking for advice (or ranting) to be validated for your decisions or validate your feelings?
Are you only happy or proud of yourself when others recognise your achievements?
Be honest with yourself and get the real answers to these eye-opening questions. If you are trying to impress your parents, ask yourself why. Why does it matter so much that you compromise yourself in order to be applauded by them? Will it ever satisfy you? Make you happy on a core level?
When you go to rant or obsessively ask for advice, take a moment to pause and ask what your intentions are. To just express how you feel and seek support or guidance? (Which is ok, from my view). Or to be told that “yes, you’re allowed to feel that way or do that thing” which is seeking validation thus saying to yourself, “unless others say what I think or feel is ok, then it’s not.”
A very dangerous line to walk, there.
If you are constantly looking outward for approval, acceptance, guidance, happiness, confirmation, assurance or other, then you are putting your self-worth, self-esteem, confidence, joy, integrity, purpose, ideas, beliefs, values, desires, value and everything in-between up for debate.
You are stealing from yourself, again and again.
Look within, trust yourself, decide that it’s ok to be you, and carry that forwards (more on all of this in future posts during the Confidence Challenge).
Your challenge today, should you choose to accept it, is to Journal as if you were your ideal self but don’t stretch too far from the truth. Allow yourself to channel your ideal self, your best self, the version of yourself that is most confident, and see what they would do, say, think, and feel.
Worksheet to complete for this week: Confidence Challenge Week Two Worksheet
Feel free to share your thoughts about this topic or your journal entries in the comments, on social media (#ConfidenceChallenge) or in my YouTube comments section.
Speak to you tomorrow!