How often to do look to other people in order to feel good about yourself?
If you’re struggling with low self-esteem of poor body image it’s very likely that you feel a pressure or drive to look a certain way, be a certain weight or be validated by those around you in order to feel confident.
But I know from experience that this often leads to not truly feeling good about yourself and probably stealing your happiness.
Seeking the approval of others isn’t just exhausting, if you’re doing it often, your likely doing it at the cost of yourself.
Have you become obsessed with what others think about you to be point of feeling insecure and paranoid?
Today I want to talk about what happens when you rely on the validation and approval of others for your worth and confidence. When you ultimately give others control over your life by relying on their opinion of you and who you should be to guide you in life.
Why you might be seeking approval
All that said, let’s be honest, if you’re seeking approval from others it has nothing to do with the fact that there is anything wrong with you.
From a young age we seek approval to know that we are ‘doing things right’. When you’re a baby and you roll over for the first time or start walking your met with applause and kisses at how amazing and clever you are.
You start school and achieving good grades gets you praise and celebration by teachers and peers. You’re more likely to ‘fit in’ and have a large friends group if you conform to social norms and beauty standards.
You leave school and go into higher education or work, all defined by what other people feel you’ll be good at and what they think you ‘should’ work towards.
Evolutionary psychology tells us that as humans we are drawn to wanting to be accepted, so you might find yourself moving through life seeking the validation and approval of others for many reasons:
And again, none of that is your fault. It’s how we get conditioned from a young age, especially as women. And at the end of the day we all want to feel loved and that we belong.
Signs that your approval seeking has become unhealthy
Look there is nothing wrong with enjoying a compliment or being recognised for your progress, hard work or that you look amazing in your new dress. That’s normal and it would be a bit rubbish if no one every said anything nice to us wouldn’t it.
But there is a difference between enjoying compliments and praise and it being essential for our esteem, confidence and sense of value and worth.
So when do you know if you’ve crossed the line into ‘unhealthy validation’?
Here are a few signs that your need for approval might be moving towards being unhealthy:
How many of these can you relate to?
If you found yourself nodding your head as you read down that list, I want to be honest with you, you need to start working on your self-acceptance and self-esteem, because you deserve to feel good.
How needing external validation might be harming you
So, you like to be liked and you enjoy making people happy, nothing wrong with that, they are good qualities. But when the need for approval has reached an unhealthy level then it’s very harmful for your wellbeing, health and confidence.
Here are a few key ways that needing external validation might be harming you in the short and the long term.
Ways to start validating yourself
As someone who used to constantly rely on external validation to feel good about myself, I want to share with you some key things I worked on, that truly helped me to start validating myself and build my self-confidence and self-esteem.
WORK OUT WHAT YOU ACTUALLY WANT
When we have spent such a long time making decisions based on the opinions of others and what they believe is important, we can lose sight of what is truly important to us.
Taking time to come back to yourself, what you want and need is really important. What are your values? Are you living a life in line with your values and desires or someone else’s? Realign yourself with your values and goals.
DO WHAT MAKES YOU FEEL GOOD
Sounds simple I know, but be honest, how much of your days do you spend doing things that make you feel good?
These don’t have to be massive things, it could be a cup of tea in bed, meeting a friend for coffee or going for a walk. Do things often that make you feel good, show yourself some kindness and create little ‘pockets of joy’ in your days.
The ripple effect will be massive, give it a go, starting today.
If like I used to, you look for other people to recognise your progress and celebrate your successes, then start doing this for yourself.
It’s so easy to think that you’re not moving forwards or that things aren’t going well. Life will throw you curve balls, guaranteed. So I encourage you to stop and reflect often on what’s going well, acknowledge and celebrate your wins and yourself.
What’s gone well this week? What have you managed or overcome?
When you start to look, you will notice more and more things to celebrate. When you start to celebrate yourself you will feel more confident and be able to feel proud of and validate yourself, instead of relying on other people.
WATCH YOUR SELF TALK
The language you use with yourself is going to massively impact how you feel about yourself, so identify and change your negative self-talk. Overtime your self-talk can become very negative, so become aware of any ‘I am’ statements you are using to describe yourself, that are negatively impacting how you feel about yourself and what you’re capable of.
Start to use empowering language with yourself, build yourself up with the words you use, because you’re listening.
Catch yourself saying negative things to yourself and ask ‘do I want to talk to myself this way?’, ‘If a friend said that about themselves what would I say to them?’.
Show yourself compassion and if it feels right to you, create your own affirmations, or find quotes or mantras that inspire you and repeat them to yourself often.
CREATE A POSITIVE ENVIRONMENT
What and who you have around you makes a massive difference in how you feel about yourself. The more positive and supported you feel, they more you will feel able to be yourself and therefore need or seek out the approval of others less.
Don’t be afraid of setting boundaries with yourself or other people, in order to be able to do this.
Have a look around you and ask yourself ‘what is making me feel negative or doubt myself?’ and brainstorm changes you could make to create a more positive environment.
If I can do it, you can too.
Start validating and accepting yourself
Your ‘self’ esteem and confidence needs to come from you, the power of how you feel should only ever be yours. You need to believe in yourself first, and at the end of the day, seek approval from the most important person in your life, and that person is you.
So, start celebrating yourself, talk kindly to yourself and start cultivating your own self-esteem and self-confidence. Separate your worth from the opinions and thoughts of others, because you’re already good enough, always have been and always will be.
If you want support I invite you to come and join the Self Esteem Society for Women ready to feel Confident in their Body & Life on Facebook.
Hey I’m Natalie, Supporting women like you on their road to self-acceptance and building their self-esteem is – as cliche as it sounds – my calling.