One of the biggest things that I see people struggling with (and it has been one of my own biggest struggles as well) is: validation. Seeking it everywhere, but within ourselves and valuing the opinion of others instead of our own.
So, today’s blog is going to cover this topic, or if you prefer a podcast format, head on over to the podcast for the audio version, I’ve got you covered babe.
And since I know you are busy, I’ll get right to the kicker: it’s time to stop waiting for validation elsewhere and give it to yourself.
Girl, you are so talented, so incredible and you are doing amazing!
But, you actually don’t need me (or anyone else) to tell you - you need to validate yourself.
As nice as it feels to hear it from other people, don’t force yourself onto the crazy rollercoaster of relying on external validation - it puts your self worth into someone else’s hands and you automatically take on the lens of other people.
Where does this come from?
There are so many ways that this practice is reinforced in our lives, but one prominent way that I think applies to so many of us is through our societal structures.
Think about it: as kids we are programmed to look for validation in others. Have you ever seen a baby look up in pure glee when they master a new skill? And that pure pride that is in their eyes when we applaud their efforts.
And then we go to school and are taught to follow rubrics and we’re assigned grades based on how well we add up to the rubric. Our textbooks have answers in the back of them which tell us whether or not we are right. Guys, we rely on a textbook, before ourselves.
Nowhere in school are we taught that our own perception, our own understanding is what really matters. We are always taught to seek validation elsewhere - to ask someone else if we’ve done a good job. And that becomes addictive.
Then we enter the working world, where most organizations are full of hierarchies and again, we are taught that the opinions of those above us are what really matters. Their experience, their knowledge, their perceptions are “right”.
It’s no wonder that we continue to seek validation from external sources as adults. It’s what we have been trained to do. And if our own internal compass is telling us something different than what we’re hearing from the outside, confusion, frustration and misalignment can surface.
But, what if I told you that this is an issue of permission. And, you can give yourself permission to feel happy, whole and worthy in this very moment.
You can fire up your own worth meter - validate yourself and set yourself free.
No more waiting for someone else to step up and validate you, you are already awesome, okay?
Relying on other people means your worth becomes unsteady - you need that validation to feel good and you start to rely on it.
When people praise you and validate you, you feel amazing, competent and capable, and you go up, up, up on that roller coaster, but what happens when that praise stops?
If you stop getting that praise you crave, or worse, if someone disagrees with you, with your path, opinion etc. suddenly you find yourself in a freefall. You feel out of control, lost and alone. And your self-worth meter plummets.
Then you continue the pattern of up and down, up and down.
What’s more, in doing this, you send a really powerful message to yourself:
- I am not capable of deciding for myself.
- My opinion is not valid.
- Everyone else is right and I am wrong.
- And ultimately: I am not worthy. I am not enough.
Think about it: every time you go to make a decision, you already have a gut feeling. You have an inner knowing that is telling you YOUR truth.
But, then you go out looking for validation everywhere. You ask everyone you know. Suddenly their opinions become your own and your own inner knowing is buried beneath all of the noise of everyone else's opinions.
Or, you finish creating something that you’re really excited about. You feel great; energized and clear.
Then, you get crickets. No one is saying a word. No one is telling you how great that offering was or how amazing that report was, or how beautiful that painting was.
And suddenly, you start to feel unsure.
Maybe this wasn't the right offering?
Maybe the report had holes in it?
Maybe the painting wasn’t as moving as you thought?
This type of thinking sends you into a spiral and down you go on that roller coaster.
Until suddenly, someone gives you that validation - they tell you how great your work was, how amazing you are.
And finally, in that moment you feel validated. At that point, and that point only, you give yourself permission to feel valid, to feel worthy and good enough - back up you go.
And then someone disagrees with you, back down you fall. You get the picture, right?
As fun as roller coasters are, at some point you need some stability.
And, this type of thinking is a habit.
It’s a formed habit that causes you to go abandon your own truth and seek the truth of others in the form of validation.
Now, the good news about that, is that a habit can be changed. It can be unlearned and a new habit formed.
So, if this sounds familiar to you, I want you to start putting some intentional energy into your self-worth and self-love.
1. Start by bringing awareness to where you are seeking validation and what sparks you into the spiral thinking. You might start to see some patterns - maybe it happens predominantly at work etc., maybe it’s just one area, or maybe it’s spread to your whole life (that’s okay if it has by the way) - recovering people pleaser right here. Just be honest - where and how is this belief showing up for you. And - no judgement, this is just an awareness exercise - remember, you have been programmed to do this, it’s not a flaw of your personality.
2. Start unpacking the beliefs surrounding your thinking - what is the FEAR behind it? The fact that you are seeking external validation means that you are operating out of fear, so tune in to what that fear is: fear of failure, fear of isolation, fear of not being enough, fear of being too much?
Any combination of these and more is possible. Unpack that fear and what it means to you.
Then, once you’ve brought awareness to it, it’s time to empower yourself.
3. Start to build some new beliefs. the amazing thing is that since you have been programmed to believe these things, since they are habits, they can be changed. You can actively work to change these beliefs.
4. Grab some paper and pen and make a chart with two sides - Start by writing down a belief that you would like to replace on one side (usually these beliefs are “if, then statements” *ex: if I don’t get listen to other people’s beliefs, then they won’t like me” and then, on the other side, match that belief to it’s empowered opposite - choose a new belief that feels right.
For example, if your old belief is “If I don’t adhere to someone else’s standards then I will fail”, replace it with something empowering “if I listen to my own intuition and validate myself, I will make space to truly do the things I want to do and I will naturally excel” make sure you are writing your new belief from a positive state.
Start operating from that new belief, put it into action now.
Any time you feel yourself slipping into those old beliefs, return to the list of new beliefs you’ve created and ask yourself how to actually implement these new beliefs - is it by speaking up on your own truth? Is it by making a decision that you’ve been putting off? Creating something that is groundbreaking?
Start acting out that place of empowerment and embody that version of yourself.
It might feel super uncomfortable at first and that's okay, it’s actually a sign that you’re stepping out of your comfort zone, and over time you will start to shift into that version of yourself and you will see your life transform. And remember to be gentle - it does take time and practice.
So, if you are someone who feels like you need that external validation, get yourself off the roller coaster and decide your own worth, decide your own definition of success and your own path in this world.
And if you need some support through the process, never be afraid to reach out and of course, join our Stumbling to Self-Love and Success with Sam Facebook Group - an amazing community of supportive women, working through these beautiful steps as well.