We humans are social animals. We need contact with others, love, intimacy, and respect. We also need validation, but does it have to come from others?
When it does, like when you get a pile of likes on that pic you just posted, it can feel so incredibly good.
At the same time, though, you might discover that the more you rely on external validation, the less happy your life becomes.
So what happens when you stop seeking validation from others and instead look for it from yourself?
A whole lot of really, really good things, as it turns out!
1) Your self-worth actually increases.
I know, that sounds counter-intuitive, right? Doesn’t validation make you feel better about yourself?
It seems like it should be that way, but the truth is that external validation is a trap. Or at least constantly seeking it is.
It’s like this:
You want people to like you, so you do the things you think will get positive responses from a certain group of people.
If you do what pleases them, you get praise, likes, whatever.
If you displease them, you may get criticism, insults, or perhaps worse, silence.
So you quickly learn what gets a positive response and what gets a negative one. You start to focus only on what gets you positives, right?
But that’s when you’ve already trapped yourself.
Because by focusing on only doing the things that others approve of or are impressed by, you’re pandering to others.
You only express certain parts of yourself and stop showing all of you, hiding away whatever doesn’t get you validation.
What’s worse is that anytime you mess up this formula and get attention, you feel doubly bad about yourself. Not only have you got yourself negative attention, but you also messed up.
All of this leads to a sense of self-worth that is based on something that’s not even yourself!
But if you can get out of the game, when you see it for what it is, then you can start to celebrate yourself and build your sense of self-worth on much more stable foundations.
2) You stop beating yourself up.
Seeking validation from others leads to self-criticism. I know because this is something that I’ve struggled with my whole life.
It’s fine and normal to criticize yourself, but that criticism has to be appropriate and fair.
And it should come from a place of love.
If your entire concept of your own self-worth is based on whether or not other people like you and what you’re doing, then the opposite is also true.
The problems you see with yourself are entirely defined by other people’s opinions and reactions.
And while so much of how others react is out of your control, you still blame yourself and feel inadequate.
But I’ve found that when you stop letting other people tell you what’s wrong or bad about you, you can actually do some much better work on yourself.
Because we all have things we can improve, but that should always be to build yourself up, not to knock yourself down.
3) You’re able to focus on your good qualities.
What are your positive qualities? Do you even really know?
When you’re searching for validation from others, you can focus so much on what’s not great about you that you completely overlook what is.
Everyone has pros and cons, things we’re good at, and things we need to work on.
When I was in high school, I really had a hard time fitting in. I was a nerd and was continually put down for being out of touch, uninterested in fashion and gossip, and having narrow interests.
But when nerds started to become popular, and Bill Gates and Hermione Granger started to be cool, I suddenly looked at myself in another way.
I realized that I had the focus and skills that others lacked. I started to appreciate myself more than ever in a process called “self-actualization,” and I turned away from the negative feelings I had about myself and others.
4) You stop feeling envious and inadequate.
Look how beautiful she is! He’s so rich! Their home is so beautiful! Why isn’t my life like that?
If that’s you running through your IG feed, you might want to step back and examine where those feelings come from.
Of course, it’s natural to look at other people’s successes and feel impressed or even curious. A little jealousy isn’t unusual.
But if these negative thoughts consume you and make you feel small, something might be seriously wrong.
The problem might be that you’re constantly seeking the validation of others and comparing yourself to them unfairly.
Why not stop looking outside yourself and start looking inside? Find the things that are great about you, the things that make you happy.
And commune with them, these positive, wonderful parts of you!
Then you might just find that you don’t feel inadequate anymore when you see a flashy car or an incredible bikini pic.
You might just say, “That’s you, but this is me, and I’m happy with myself!”
5) You can become more independent.
Have you ever wanted to be more outgoing or adventurous? Have you ever wanted to really set out on your world and experience everything it has to offer?
That’s not easy when you’re tied down by what everyone thinks of you.
Seeking validation ties you down and saps your independence.
But when you can get away from the validation trap, you can really fly solo.
You’ll be able to take risks without worrying about what people will say. You’ll be more open to new experiences without wondering how they’ll make you look.
6) You can focus on what thrills you.
Imagine that when you were growing up, you were obsessed with Star Wars.
But when you got older, you were told that it wasn’t cool.
If you gave up on your t-shirts and models and toys and hid everything in the back of your closet, me too!
For me, it was the worry of being laughed at that made me turn my back on something I loved.
But no more.
I like it, and that’s enough for me. After all, when you find something in life that you’re really into, that really thrills you, that’s a rare thing that you shouldn’t let anyone take away from you – not even yourself.
Once you give up on letting others dictate what you should and shouldn’t like and do, you can really start enjoying life more than you’d ever imagined!
7) You can live your best life.
I’ve already touched on the independence and sense of self-worth that you can gain by escaping from the validation-seeking game.
But there’s a whole lot more to be said for making this change in your life and building up your self-esteem.
When you let go of trying to gain other people’s admiration, you can really focus on all the things in your life you’ve pushed aside.
You can wear what you feel your best in.
You can go where you want to with who you want to and not worry about what others will think.
You can do the things that bring you joy and make you truly and sincerely happy.
In short, you can live life in the best way for the uniqueness that is you.
8) You’re able to love better.
The benefits of giving up on seeking validation from others don’t just come to you alone.
The other people in your life, the most important ones, will see positive change as well, and this is particularly true in your love life.
It’s so often true that we look for validation in our sexual and romantic relationships. Of course we do because validation from a loved one is just about better than anything.
But once you’re living your best life, you’re able to express yourself, and be yourself better than ever before.
You no longer have to try to pretend to be something or someone you’re not to attract people or impress a partner.
Instead, you’re able to show who you are and accept the consequences.
If that makes someone uninterested in you, great – you’ve just saved time and heartache!
And on top of this, you’ll be able to be more open with your love. It’s so hard to love others when you’re not feeling yourself, so if you can kick the external validation habit, you’ll find the quantity and quality of love you have to give increases multifold.
Great things happen when you stop seeking validation from others
Chasing validation from others can be entirely draining and damaging.
But if you can escape from this trap, you can be happier, healthier, and love life a whole lot more.
And then you’ll find that validation will come anyway, but it will be real, authentic, and from the people you truly care about.