We are living in times where self-development is huge and one thing that is talked about often is the need to stop seeking external validation. We are being told that all the validation we need is from ourselves. It’s now common to be told to speak out boldly, to never allow anyone’s opinions to determine your choices, and basically, to only pay attention to that voice inside you that knows exactly what you want. The message out there is that seeking external validation is stopping you from thriving, or at least that’s what my Google search result showed.
Don’t get me wrong, I think this is all great and it’s good to work according to your own rules, but I strongly believe that you NEED external validation. And yes, I said need, just so we are clear.
Now hear me out before you freak out and think that I’m crazy because caring what other people think will stunt your growth and capacity to achieve big things.
I do not condone constantly checking out what people think of your latest Facebook post or tweet. I am not one for always seeking other people’s approval before you make a decision even if it’s something as simple as what you are going to wear or eat. I also don’t like those relationships where only one party always gets to decide how everything goes. This is not acceptable and it may signal that you have self-esteem issues that need quick fixing before serious problems like anxiety and depression strike. If this was all there was to it then I would totally be part of the anti-validation movement, but that’s not all there is to it.
The need for external approval can become addictive and if you are constantly valuing other people’s opinions and beliefs above your own then there is a problem. However, I still think that validation is necessary and here’s why.
If you go down the focusing on yourself path you are going to become self-consumed. You will have your personal goals and you will trust YOU to achieve them without depending on others.
Yeayyy!!! This is great, but wait, you live in a world with other people.
Constantly doing your own thing means you are bound to turn into a selfish person who feels entitled to whatever they want because that is what will give you contentment. You will justify depending on yourself because nobody’s opinions matter, right?
What other people think still matters because guess what, you need good connections and relationships in order to thrive. Sometimes you will need to hear out what other people think to be successful.
Instead of accepting an unfounded rejection of external validation you need to address the issue from a new perspective. You need to know the basis of your need for validation.
If I am networking and there is a prospective connection that I’m not sure about, I may ask for validation from someone who has worked with the connection before.
If I am working on a new project I may seek validation from those who have done it successfully before.
If I need a nudge in the right direction I will seek validation, and when I hit a low in life, I will occasionally need someone to tell me that everything will be fine.
What I will not do is ask for approval at every turn, for all my decisions.
If you don’t think much of yourself and you constantly need validation, then it is wise to train yourself to let go of this need, but if you are just going through life and you need support from time to time, then by all means, seek validation when you need it.
We are being fed a one-size-fits-all approach to life but the reality is that life is not black and white, and sometimes you just need to wade through the grey areas. Remember, we all need validation sometimes. Don’t just go with the anti-validation cliché, be in control of your life and know who you are and what you need.