People who constantly seek validation without understanding why often exhibit these 9 subtle behaviors

Asking for support vs. seeking validation.

The line is thin between these two, but the difference is huge.

While the two actions may seem similar on paper, the difference lies in the source of the action.

Seeking validation often comes from a place of insecurity. In some ways, it is insincere—it masks itself as asking for support. 

But what it truly is is a quest for approval. It comes from insecurity and is done to make up for a deficiency in self-esteem.

Seeking support, on the other hand, is not done to make up for something but as a request to help oneself with a quest.

In essence, asking for support is done to enrich something, and seeking validation is done as a coping mechanism. 

Unsure if you’re seeking validation? Unsure why you’re seeking validation? What are the traits of people who typically seek validation?

People who constantly seek validation without understanding why often exhibit these 9 subtle behaviors.

1) They’re afraid of rejection

People who seek validation do so because they fear the exact opposite of it: rejection.

Of course, rejection is difficult to swallow for anybody. But particularly insecure people will avoid any situation where they can rejected.

For example, they might avoid:

  • Applying for new or better jobs;
  • Going on dates;
  • Getting a degree;
  • Expressing their opinions;
  • Asking for help.

Getting rejected will simply worsen their insecurity.

In fact, their deep insecurity likely means that they reject themselves on some level. Thus, they rely on other people for validation to counteract this self-rejection

2) They don’t practice self-care

Now, to be honest, I don’t have any studies to back this up.

But based on my personal belief and experience, people who tend to lack self-esteem are the same people who don’t practice enough self-care.

Unfortunately, many people still don’t believe enough in the concept of self-care. They think that it’s lazy or decadent.

But it’s absolutely paramount to take care of ourselves—to treat ourselves once in a while with fun, relaxation, and indulgence. If we don’t, our mental health, and thus our self-esteem, suffers.

The more we ignore self-care, the more we condition ourselves into thinking that we live for other people. 

That we live for our jobs or for our responsibilities or whatever it may be.

Live for yourself, too.

3) They always compare themselves to other people

Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.”

He’s right. It’s the thief of joy—because it’s the thief of self-esteem, too.

Look, we compare ourselves from time to time. It’s impossible not to. We’re social creatures.

But those who do so constantly and obsessively will never feel good about themselves. In doing so, they set themselves up for failure, making the whole thing a self-fulfilling prophecy.

People who are adamant about comparing oneself to others insist that life is a race, not a marathon.

First of all, they’re wrong. But okay, so let’s work with that analogy: 

If it’s a race, some people are running in front of you (the “more successful” people), some are running beside you (the “just-as-successful” people), and some are behind you (the “less successful” people).

But here’s the thing: you only see the people in front of you.

You don’t see the other people. You don’t see how far you’ve actually come.

4) They never believe compliments

It’s a bit ironic, isn’t it?

Insecure people will seek validation (often in the form of compliments), only to reject them.

If you compliment them, they’ll always undermine it or understate it. They’ll always say something like:

  • “Not really”;
  • “It wasn’t that hard”;
  • “Not as impressive as what you did”;
  • “I just got lucky”;
  • (Insert self-deprecating comment here).

The truth is that they’re actually trying to fish for even more compliments (even if they won’t fully believe them).

After all, if they tell you something like the phrases above, what’s your gut reaction?

To tell them that, yes, you do mean it, and they shouldn’t talk about themselves like that. You’ll be validating them even more.

5) They undermine their own achievements

If they don’t believe your compliments, do you think they’ll ever believe in praise from themselves?

Well, actually… they’ll probably never give themselves even a pat on the back. Their sense of self-worth is too shaky for them to do that.

Because of this, they never get the self-esteem boost other people get from their accomplishments. 

This actually reveals a fundamental truth about constantly seeking validation: it’ll never be enough.

Because you’ll never believe in compliments, reassurance, and validation other people offer you if you don’t validate yourself first.

6) They talk to themselves negatively

your unhappy childhood is affecting you more than you realize People who constantly seek validation without understanding why often exhibit these 9 subtle behaviors

Instead of giving themselves due credit, they’ll often practice negative self-talk.

The unfortunate truth is that insecurity often leads people into a spiral of despair. To put it simply, insecurity leads to more insecurity.

Being insecure will result in an inner voice that is harsh and painfully self-critical. They always demean themselves for supposedly not being good enough.

They’ll self-flagellate for even the smallest of mistakes.

Then, this behavior decreases their self-esteem further, which leads to more negative self-talk, and the cycle continues.

To compensate for this, they look to other people for the exact opposite: positive affirmations.

7) They never settle for anything less than perfection

One of the biggest reasons why they constantly berate themselves is because they can be such perfectionists.

And they’re not the good kind of perfectionists.

In my opinion, being a perfectionist is great—if you are one out of a genuine desire to do the very best you can.

But an insecure person’s “perfectionism” is rooted in fear of criticism and rejection. This is counterproductive because doing something out of fear will never yield the best results.

They’re also doing it out of a desire for, again, validation. They want people to validate their efforts in order to soothe their self-doubt.

This is self-destructive for many reasons:

  • It causes stress;
  • It downplays one’s own achievements, further decreasing self-confidence;
  • It makes one cater to the desires of others, not necessarily one’s strengths;
  • It makes the perfect the enemy of the good, disregarding genuine progress.

8) They play it cool… in an uncool way

In the same way they try to be perfect, insecure people will try so hard to seem like they’re not insecure.

Which, of course, backfires because they just seem more insecure. Their actions will seem fidgety, insincere, or too eager.

They’ll put on a front by trying to seem cool, independent, or successful to others, even if they’re really not.

For example, they’ll meticulously curate their social media pages so it looks like they’re living a fabulous life.

All of this is done to fish for compliments—for validation from others that they’re doing the right things. Or, even worse, they’re trying to delude themselves. 

Of course, they know that they’re just fooling themselves, making them feel even worse.

9) They can’t make decisions

Deep insecurity leads to intense self-doubt. This leads to great difficulty in making decisions.

This makes them afraid of making a decision because they fear choosing the wrong one.

So what do they do?

They avoid making decisions altogether in the same way they avoid situations where they might get rejected.

Some may ask others to decide for them. Or, more commonly, they ask other people to validate their decisions for them.

Because even after they’ve made the decision, they’ll always be in doubt if they made the right one. Thus, they need other people to reassure them that their choice is correct.

But here’s the thing: this will only decrease their self-confidence and increase their reliance on external validation.

How to stop seeking validation

finding true inner peace People who constantly seek validation without understanding why often exhibit these 9 subtle behaviors

The first step to any self-improvement process is gaining awareness. 

So, if you’re reading this, you’re probably already aware that either you or a loved one is constantly seeking validation.

Here are a few tips you can implement yourself or offer to a loved one that is struggling with validation-seeking.

1) Get off social media (at least for a while)

Social media is a great thing (I literally work in it).

But, like many things, it can be a double-edged sword. It can worsen someone’s mental health, especially if it’s already in a bad place to start with.

It’s constantly tempting us to compare ourselves to the curated, idealized versions of people’s lives on social media. 

I know the internet and social media have become such prominent parts of our lives in the modern world, so getting away from it can be difficult.

But trust me, it’s well worth it.

2) Stop negative self-talk

You need to be mindful to go on a journey of healing. 

If you catch yourself performing self-destructive behaviors, such as demeaning yourself, you need to bite the bullet and simply stop.

I know that you’ll keep feeling the urge to, but do your best to find something else to distract your mind with.

3) Stop asking for validation

In the same vein, you need to do your absolute hardest to stop yourself from asking for validation.

If you know that you’ll be meeting someone at a later time, ask yourself: what do I want from this interaction?

If you know deep inside that you’ll be asking for validation, think of another topic to talk about. If you do receive praise, accept them, acknowledge them, and try not to fish for more.

4) Perform positive affirmations

Positive affirmations are positive statements that you tell yourself. Typically, people write them down in a journal or say them in front of a mirror.

I understand that it may seem cheesy or silly to someone who hasn’t tried them before.

But I promise you that they can be incredibly effective at fighting the negative beliefs you have yourself!

Remember that we often seek validation from others because we’re unable to give ourselves validation well enough.

You can start with simple affirmations like:

  • I am worthy of praise;
  • My work has value;
  • I am self-sufficient;
  • I can achieve the things I want;
  • I am worthy of love and respect.
  • I don’t have a good reason to be insecure.

5) Seek professional help

There are some battles that you can’t win by yourself—even with the help of friends, lovers, and family. 

If you think you need it, seek professional help. (And even if you don’t think so, it probably won’t hurt anyway).

To recap

If you have low self-esteem, I want you to remember that it’s not over.

It’s perfectly human to have insecurities—even intense ones. It can come from all sorts of things, from family trauma to social expectations.

However, it’s just as human to be able to overcome them.

And while you may not believe in yourself just yet, know that I believe in you.

Anna Dovbysh

Anna Dovbysh

With 8 years of writing experience and a deep interest in psychology, relationship advice, and spirituality, Anna’s here to shine a light on the most interesting self-development topics and share some life advice. She's got a Master's Degree in International Information and is a life-long learner of writing and storytelling. In the past, she worked on a radio station and a TV channel as a journalist and even tought English in Cambodia to local kids. Currently, she's freelancing and traveling around the globe, exploring new places, and getting inspired by the people she meets and the stories they tell. Subscribe to her posts and get in touch with her on her social media: Facebook & LinkedIn

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