Have you ever said (or heard someone say) “I don’t care what the world thinks. I do what I want, and I don’t need the world’s approval.” This sentence is usually followed by a smug look, especially when others nod in awe. This person has just received approval and validation for feeling like they don’t need it.
Seeking validation is human nature and essential to being a part of society. We are constantly seeking approval from people around us. It gives us a sense of belonging. A slight nod of appreciation or a Like on a social media post makes us smile and stand a bit taller with a little sense of accomplishment.
Some harmless peacocking is good for the ego, but how do we know if it gets out of hand—when seeking approval turns into becoming dependent on approvals?
In light of some investigative revelations that Facebook’s research showed the mental harm of social media on teenagers, it’s worthwhile to reassess our reasons for seeking approval. Constant exposure to the extravagant ‘lifestyle influencers’ makes you think that the only way to achieve happiness is to be skinny and rich. There might even be people you know who constantly post about their fabulous lives. But take a moment to think—would they post something they’re not happy about? Do you see the complete picture before deriding yourself about how everyone except you has a perfect life?
It took me a few therapy sessions to even realise how I was dealing with my need for validation. I was unable to handle the slightest hint of criticism, even in jest. I took every disagreement personally and would overthink it for days. I am slowly learning to let it go by telling myself that it isn’t always personal and that I don’t need to be liked by everyone all the time.
Here are some unhealthy approval-seeking behaviours that are considered as red flags.
- Agreeing with people even when you disagree
- Pretending to know what the group is talking about
- Afraid of criticism
- Afraid of confrontations
- Fishing for compliments
- Feeling insulted if someone disagrees with you
- You don’t complain or criticise when needed
- Non-conforming for the sake of standing out and getting attention
- Needing to be the first one to share news or gossip for attention
Do you spot yourself in these? I surely do!
When you feel your confidence levels have plummeted or feel a lack of personal fulfilment or achievement in your life, this is when you’re most likely to spiral down the validation seeking trail.
Once I started my artwork and blog, I had a sense of purpose and achievement every day. It has boosted my self confidence. Although I still fret about any disapproval or criticism I’ve gotten, it doesn’t keep me up at night.
I post my work on social media in the hope of selling them, and I post intermittently on my private account to share my happiness with a select group of loved ones. So, I am seeking some approval for sure, but my day doesn’t revolve around the number of Likes or orders I’ve received.
Every day, I practice gratefulness for what I have, and that has helped me immensely in my journey. Hope this helps you too!
Love & Light!