Seeking validation can be addictive. Earlier it was in person and now it is also online. No one knows your story more than you do. People have no reason or right to decide how you should live your life, especially when they have not walked in your shoes. Whether or not they approve of your decisions is their issue, not yours.
You can validate yourself and your decisions. This is known as ‘self-validation'. Accepting yourself is the highest and purest form of validation, yet it is the hardest thing to do. When you doesn’t get this from yourself, you start looking for it from others. It goes beyond seeking the approval of those close to the person to a desperate need for acceptance. This could be in the form of a constant need for positive comments from so-called friends on social media to a craving for likes and thumbs up on various social media platforms.
This burning need if not met can lead to anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem. Even when people do get this acceptance, they become addicted to it. Every praise is like oxygen to them. Several people suffer from social anxiety at some point in their lives. In the United States alone, 7% of the population suffers from this condition.
Many times, people don’t even realize that they are seeking validation from others. Here are a few examples of approval-seeking behaviours you may be doing, consciously or unconsciously: Being dishonest just to impress someone; being distressed when someone doesn’t agree with you; agreeing with someone even when you have no reason to; keeping quiet when you are mistreated as opposed to complaining about it; not being true to yourself and doing things that are not in line with your beliefs just so you can gain someone else’s approval.
Seeking validation from others could be stressful but it is not worth the stress. Regardless of what you do to please them, some people won’t like you. Your efforts aren’t going to cut it and will never impress them. I love the quote, “People who mind, don’t matter. And the people who matter, don’t mind.” Keep this in mind, when bending backwards to please others.
It is important to remember that whether or not people like you doesn’t determine your self-worth. If you know your worth, no one can ever bring you down. The act of constantly pleasing others to get their validation is physically, mentally and emotionally draining. When you work hard repeatedly just to impress people but keep falling short of their so-called validation, you get drained out.
Be yourself, everyone else is already taken. Your life becomes so much easier when you start being more authentic. You never have to displease yourself to please anyone just because you want them to like you or approve of you. The quote of Bruce Lee is brilliant, “I’m not in this world to live up to your expectations and you’re not in this world to live up to mine.” Your life will be much simpler when you make peace with the fact that you must make yourself happy. If people are not okay with what you do and don’t give their approval, it’s their problem anyway.
It’s incredibly liberating when you live your life according to your beliefs. Not worrying about what other people think gives you an incredible sense of freedom and happiness.
So start working on your self-esteem and develop a higher sense of self-esteem. Harvey Feirstein said it perfectly, “Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one’s definition of your life, but define yourself.”
Be honest with yourself and live life to the fullest. Anything else will be tantamount to living a false life for the benefit of others. “Freedom on the inside comes when validation from the outside doesn’t matter.” - Richie Norton beautifully sums up the essence of this article.
Shilpa Bhasin Mehra is an independent legal consultant based in Dubai
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