Validation Addiction: Giving Others Power Over Your Decisions
Have you ever felt frustrated because those who are the most important to you never seem to provide the validation or approval you want?
For some, it’s one person that makes you feel you can’t ever do anything right, no matter how hard you try. For others, it seems like the whole world is against them.
You might think back about how excited you were about tackling something new in the past, even though you were nervous you might not succeed.
But you rocked it out and you felt good, even proud of yourself, that you had the courage to stretch your wings and step out of your comfort zone.
You couldn’t wait to share it with someone near and dear to you. Someone you loved, or admired, like a spouse, a parent, a group of friends, or your hard-to-please boss.
But, after sharing your stellar news, instead of getting the kudos and
affirmation you expected, you were met by some form of rejection.
It might not have been anything pointed or specific. It just lacked sincere enthusiasm or interest. Instead of saying “Great job!”, they started giving you suggestions on how it might have been done better next time.
It didn’t feel good, did it?
This negative type of messaging, even if they weren’t consciously intended as such, can torpedo our deepest and most fragile internal dialog.
Unless we’ve developed a solid confidence level within ourselves, our creative and courageous intentions can wither like a flower in the hot sun.
It might have even affected your confidence to the point of discouraging you from trying anything new again.
Worse, it might have made you feel like you weren’t appreciated or that people thought you didn’t have what it took to succeed.
We humans crave interaction, and acceptance and appreciation are high on that interaction list.
We thrive best when we can share our triumphs and our failures with those we love and respect and know that no matter what we do in life, we are loved and accepted for who we are.
Addicted to validation
But, sometimes we get stuck on that need for affirmation and it keeps us from moving forward with decisions, new projects or simply following our dreams.
That’s when we can become addicted to validation.
You can call it whatever you’d like. Affirmation, acceptance or approval. Some people even label it as “love”.
They’re all forms of validation that make us feel connected within our immediate social world.
Where it starts to go sideways on us, though, is when we go from simply wishing for validation to needing it to function.
That could mean we require it to make our day-to-day or key decisions or it’s the primary driver that shapes our sense of self-worth.
But, depending on others for our own self-acceptance, or sense of well-being can be disastrous.
To get that approval, then, we can end up making poor decisions based on what others think or feel about us, instead of being based on the merits of a situation.
That can result in sacrificing any fulfillment or growth we would otherwise receive if we’d trusted ourselves and followed our own path. Examples might be decisions on who we marry, where we go to college, or choosing a career based on someone else’s expectations, all of which are a recipe for life-long disappointment or regret.
It creates frustration, anxiety, and even sadness when we turn away from things we’re meant to do and succeed at.
What we don’t consider is that there may be other reasons why others withhold approval and, in many cases, these reasons have nothing to do with the person seeking it.
They may be unnecessarily fearful that the person seeking approval is getting in over their head or could get hurt in some way.
On the other side of the spectrum, they may not want a person to succeed because it reflects badly on themselves, or their simply jealous.
Another factor is that some people are challenged with open communication. They may not easily share approval with others because they were never taught this skill by their own parents.
The bottom line is that trying to work around, understand or guess what drives others to provide approval can be exhausting and frustrating.
Guide your own path
The bigger lesson out of this, though, is that basing our own decisions or sense of self on what others think is not a healthy place to be.
Instead, we should be guiding our own path, focusing on what makes us happy and fulfilled. It’s ok to ask for an opinion or feedback, the difference is if you depend on it entirely.
Giving ourselves validation is the first step to building higher self-worth and confidence.
There’s no confusion when we know, in our hearts and minds, that we’ve done the best that we can in any effort we make.
What we take away from those experiences, whether we succeeded or failed, then shapes our perspective moving forward.
If we view it as a learning experience, it encourages our creativity, fires up our imagination, and pushes us toward new challenges so we can grow.
Are you addicted to validation?
So, how do you know if you’re addicted to validation?
You might start by asking yourself these four questions:
1. Do I hold off making important decisions until I can get opinions or approval from others?
2. Do I resist moving forward on something important until I’ve gotten the go-ahead from others like friends, a spouse, family, or boss?
3. If I think I’ve done a great job at something, but the person I’d like approval from needlessly criticizes or de-values it, does it lower my sense of satisfaction or worth?
4. Have I ever stopped moving forward on something I wanted to do because I was ridiculed or shamed?
If you answered yes to any of these, it might be time to focus on the “why” behind it. Those that truly love and appreciate you will always support you in your endeavors because they want to see you learn and grow.
If they don’t, then consider the reasons they aren’t capable of giving that affirmation.
You've got this!
You have one life to live. Live it with truth, with joy, and unbridled inspiration.
There’s only one person that counts when it comes to deciding what’s most important to you and your life, and that’s you!
One last thought. Some people have been made to feel that moving forward with something that makes them happy, regardless of what others think, is selfish.
But, I disagree. When those actions affect our mental, emotional or physical health, nothing could be farther from the truth.
We’re not all intended to come from the same mold. Sometimes following your dreams doesn’t fit into other people’s life narratives.
But, we can only thrive, contribute and support ourselves, and others we care about when we actively prioritize and affirm what’s within our heart and mind.
So until next time, stay safe, stay healthy and stay strong!