Just The Way It Is
I used to be just like you! Constantly trying to please everyone, just in case they’d hate me if I didn’t!
The reason we do it is obvious, isn’t it? The only way we can be worthy of anything at all is if other people make us feel worthy. Without the sacred ‘validation’ we’re worthless.
It sounds stupid when you say it out loud, but what we’re saying is, we cannot be happy unless everyone likes us.
It’s impossible to change the way another person thinks. So, the only way to stop feeling like this, is to change the way we think.
It’s not easy, I know that. I struggled for years, but as long as you start small and make tiny improvements every day, anyone can kill the validation monster.
Why Do We Do It?
We’re a social species. Our genetic disposition is to be part of a tribe, so wanting approval from others is natural.
Everyone want’s to be liked, but It becomes a problem when ‘being liked’ becomes the most important thing. Putting all that effort into trying to influence other people is wasteful and pointless. Sure, there are some good reasons for wanting the acceptance of others, but we’d be much happier if we’d only concentrate on ourselves for a change.
“A truly strong person does not need the approval of others any more than a lion needs the approval of sheep.” ~ Vernon Howard
One of the big ‘validation activities’ today is Facebook. You’d probably think that Facebook would be a great place for people with low self-esteem to converse and make friends. There’s no need for a face-to-face conversation, so less stress?
Unfortunately, according to the Association for Psychological Science, this isn’t the case. Their study revealed people with low self-esteem tend to behave counterproductively. Simply providing their friends with negative tidbits about their lives and making themselves less likeable.
As a first step, realise that your need for validation from others, stems from one or more beliefs that YOU have about YOU. Knowing this, why would you think that someone else’s approval will change the way you feel about yourself?
A quick google search will give you pages of tips to help you make changes, but there are some internal changes you’ll need to make for them to stick. Here’s a few to start you off on the right track…
Increase your self-acceptance.
Keep a self-appreciation journal. You can use it to note down the things you’re most proud of about yourself. It may be a good choice you made during the day, or something you’ve learned that’ll help you in the future, etc. Try to write three things every day, by the end of the month you’ll have a list of almost 100 things you’re proud of about you.
In most cases, when you go to someone, to tell them about a task you’ve achieved, or a problem you’re having, you’re just looking for their approval. At the very least you’re hoping they’ll tell you you did nothing wrong. Give that approval to yourself first.
Ask yourself how you feel about it. eg If it’s something you’ve done, are you pleased with the way you acted? Would you do the same thing next time? Is there anything you would change next time?
Notice your language, self-talk, and behavior, and identify if it’s coming from wanting someone else to say you made a good decision, or that you made the right choice.
So next time, when you do make a decision, check with yourself that it feels right instead.
Every time you validate yourself, you require external validation less. The difficulty, is we find it harder to accept praise from ourselves. However, your mind loves to be right, give it the opportunity to give you pleasure and it’ll do so willingly.
By all means continue to ask your friends for advice, but as an addition to what you know is right, rather than because your not sure if you are.
Be honest with yourself when you take on a new task. Are you doing it doing it because it is ‘right’ for you, or because you want to get approval from the person you’re doing it for?
Start to do things that’re also beneficial for you. Don’t solely rely on ‘people pleasing’ activities. Until you start to respect the things you want, you’ll always be chasing the approval of others.
Start a journal and list down the different tasks you do each day. How many of them were good for you for you and how many were driven by people pleasing?
There are many ways to increase your self-esteem. You can find a few posts in the list below.
How has the need for approval impacted your life? Let me know in the comments 😉