Validating yourself is the ultimate expression of confidence.
Validation is looking for approval by ourselves or someone else. We want to know that we are still accepted in spite of something we do or look like that feels not good enough. When you ask someone else “Do you think I am …” Or “what do you think of my project, my actions, my statement, my dinner…” what are you really asking? You are asking to feel better, to feel less fear, to feel less guilt, shame, or responsibility. It may be that you are asking for an opinion or feedback about what you are wearing, producing or doing. Then constructive feedback is welcomed, but when we are feeling insecure the request is so we feel loved and accepted. We ask for validation from other people in so many ways that are both subtle and overt. Yet seeking validation is one of the many ways in which we undermine our own confidence.
When you ask someone else “what do you think of my project, my actions, my statement, my dinner…” what are you really asking?
The search for validation is particularly apparent to me when I am coaching a client in changing their diet or exercise habits. Their goal is to lose weight so that they feel better in their skin and radiate confidence. During the biweekly check in conversation, clients are often tempted to report the number on the scale or their food transgressions. I should clarify that I don’t recommend weighing yourself regularly, and while I believe in making sure you can optimize your habits to be your healthiest, that does not need to include losing weight.
When my clients gain weight, ate more than they wanted, or ate foods they perceive as bad, they look at me expectantly and wait for me to say something to permit them to feel OK about it. When they lose weight, clients look at me for praise. I try to give them neither response. I do remind people that they are not determined by the number on the scale and their worthiness is not tied to their health either. They are worthy of love and respect as they are.
Asking for validation gives our power away to someone else. It usually happens in a moment of vulnerability when the feelings that come up in that moment are causing us discomfort. We don’t trust that we are deserving of love and respect, that we acted with the best intentions, that we acted in integrity with ourselves, and that we can handle whatever the future holds. We are assuming that we are not capable of handling the pain of these feelings ourselves so we ask our friends, parents and partners to alleviate it.
We are assuming that we are not capable of handling the pain of these feelings
So what would happen if the person whom we ask, does validate us? Perhaps it helps us feel good and possibly confident for the moment, but it won’t last. Since the insecurity that was driving us to ask the question was internal. Our inner critic is activating our “not good enough” trigger and instead of addressing him ourselves, we reach out.
Some scenarios that bring up our unworthy feelings can be that we doubt our worthiness. I am sure we have all been tempted to ask if we looked good enough (or fat) or asked about our gray hair. We want to know that we still belong and are loved even if we don’t look like the ideal models in the magazines.
Sometimes we doubt our own intentions, and want to be told that what happened was not our fault. Acting with good intention doesn’t always have an outcome that is positive and when that happens it is hard to sit with the feelings that being responsible bring up. It would be more valuable to feel comforted and accepted with those feelings. That is not the support we usually ask for and nor are our friends and coworkers used to delivering the comfort to us in that way.
Another time we often ask for validation is when we fee out of integrity. We chose to do something and acted out of integrity to our values or commitments and we want to feel better. Of course other people may not truly know and understand our values and our commitments, so their reassurance doesn’t bring us back to integrity. We lose the valuable chance to learn something about my values, or my life vision.
These scenarios bring up challenging feelings and fully experiencing with our feelings, addressing the inner critic ourselves and learning the important lesson that is presented to us while we were feeling vulnerable helps us grow our power to feel confident.
How do you validate yourself and stop seeking for it from outside?
Asking for feedback is different because we are asking for ways in which we can improve our work or interactions with other people. Some examples of asking for feedback are “What about this writing can I look at improving? When I spoke to my coworker I wonder if I could have approached things differently?” Any challenging feelings that you had about the issue you are asking for feedback on you have navigated them successfully.
Take the stance that being exactly
who you are in that moment is all
that is expected of you.
Actively resisting the pull to ask for validation is hard work. I am certainly not immune to feeling the need for validation, but I continue to work on self-validation. How do you validate yourself and stop seeking for it from outside? First notice when you feel you need reassurance. Ask yourself what you are saying to yourself about the situation. What feeling is triggering you that you are seeking validation for? Then ask yourself what needs to happen for you to validate yourself.
Validating yourself is the ultimate statement of authenticity and worthiness. It means that you trust yourself and that you are worthy. Take the stance that being exactly who you are in that moment is all that is expected of you.
If you are ready to explore growing your confidence, sign up for a free laser coaching and get a concrete action plan to build self validation habits and increase your confidence.