It’s normal and even natural to ask friends, family and colleagues their opinion on topics top of mind. But, when it happens regularly and to the point where the opinion of others is needed in order for you to make a decision or feel good, it’s a sign of a potentially stress-causing issue.
In this article, you’ll learn about the impact of seeking validation and steps to take to reduce this dependency.
What seeking validation looks like
I was in my mid-forties when my self-awareness turned a spotlight on my urge to seek validation. Once I noticed, I couldn’t unnotice how I often sought validation from others on everything no matter how big or small.
The moment I decided to buy a new car, I called up friends and family asking their opinions or advice on which car I should choose. When a few job offers came my way, what would I do? I’d call friends and family asking for their advice on which job was best for me. I decided to buy new furniture for my patio. For weeks after that, I sent pictures of different options to friends and family asking them to help me make a decision.
Just about every time I’d need to make a personal decision, I’d phone a friend. But, it didn’t stop there. My want for validation did not end once I’d made a decision. I not only wanted opinions, I needed a show of excitement too. I expected my friends and family to be as enthusiastic about whatever I was excited about.
When I finally committed to the new teak patio table and benches that I’d been mulling over and gathering opinions on for weeks. I excitedly brought it home and set it up on my freshly painted deck completing the look with new outdoor cushions and curtains.
I sent my phone-a-friend several pictures of my new decor. My texts oozed my elation over the end results. Her response? A simple thumbs up or heart on the photos. Excuse me, that’s it!?!?
The tipping point in validation seeking
Here I am practically jumping for joy like a kid on Christmas day. I’m ecstatic! But it’s clear my phone-a-friend does not share my level of enthusiasm as they simply respond to my text by liking the photo. Almost instantly my fervor for my new decor deflated.
I couldn’t understand why they weren’t as excited as I was.
While talking about my recent observation with my dear friend Faye, she shared she experienced the same thing. For years, she shared and sought points of view from her closest confidants — from business ideas to diet plans to clothing styles to vehicles she considered purchasing.
She asked for and received a myriad of opinions, judgements and sometimes spirited preaches about why she should or shouldn’t do something. But, rather than making her feel confident in her choices, she was left feeling saddened, conflicted and stressed.
A moment of realization
Realizing her search for validation was doing her more harm than good, Faye started relying on her gut. She stopped seeking validation from others on every personal decision and achievement. She found that ditching the urge for gathering approval from her friends and family and trusting herself ultimately made her happier and less stressed. That was all the motivation I needed to make a change.
Relying on others to help make decisions about our lives or feeling we aren’t getting enough validation can create bigger issues. Constantly looking to others for approval can lead to anxiety and depression, not to mention the stress it adds to our lives.
Once the realization hit me, I knew that if I truly wanted to live my best life, I had to stop seeking outside validation and start trusting myself. I needed to be enough for myself.
It’s taken practice, but by working through my daily meditation and applying some key guiding principles to my life, I’ve shifted my mindset.
And, I have to say, simplifying my life in this way has made everything so much more rewarding. If I can, you can.
Steps to take to stop seeking validation
Here are five principles I have used to help me stop seeking validation from others.
Trust your judgment
At forty-five, I am now learning to trust my own judgment and go with my instincts. Afterall, it’s my opinion that matters most when making personal decisions.
If I ever find myself conducting primary research for a life-changing drug discovery process, I’ll survey the masses. Until then, for every new job that I am offered, outfit I’m considering buying and home improvement projects I am teetering on, I’ll do my homework. I will weigh out the pros and cons and make the decision myself. Just like a CEO of self would do. Trust your gut and go with it!
Set realistic expectations
While I still continue to share exciting moments with friends and family, I no longer set unrealistic expectations on them that truthfully, they didn’t sign up for. I don’t equate their love and support to the level of enthusiasm they show for the new wallpaper I’m considering in my mudroom or the new logo I’m considering for my blog. I’m the one who is going to drive my car, walk into my mudroom and be represented by my logo every day, which means I’m the one that needs to truly love the results of those decisions.
Mums the word
I no longer feel the need to share that I’ve taken up yoga and lost 10 lbs. in my first month. Or that I’m thinking about one day opening my own yoga studio and teaching classes. If it comes up in conversation I’m happy to share. But I don’t feel the need to ask if I should do it, nor am I compelled to pick up the phone to share every bit of progress I make.
I’ve found keeping things to myself rewarding and certainly less stressful. It’s also fun to have something new to share and surprise people when the time presents itself.
Be your own cheerleader
Being your own cheerleader is essential, but may be a challenge. It was for me. But once I learned how to be happy with my own praise and validation, I discovered a new level of joy and peace in my life.
I found setting a goal and holding myself accountable was advantageous to becoming my own cheerleader.
Additionally, keeping a log in my daily planner of all my scheduled workouts, and using the fitness app to track my daily progress enables me to compete with myself to outperform my prior month’s results. Doing so helps me encourage myself to keep moving every time I fall behind and reward myself when I meet my weekly goal. Yeah me!
Do it for yourself and no one else
I am no longer compelled to call my friends as soon as I write a new post. Though I hope to inspire others along the way, I am writing this blog for myself. It’s quite therapeutic.
Yes, I notify my subscribers and followers that there is something new to read, but I’m not out to impress my friends and family nor am I looking for a pat on the back.
I have found great satisfaction in not second guessing myself because one of my friends wasn’t as thrilled for me as I’d have liked. The feeling of accomplishment I gain is now validation enough.
If you find that you are a validation seeker, I hope you find this blog post helpful. I’d love to hear from you. Let me know what guiding principles you apply to stay clear of seeking validation.