When the mind is at odds with the soul, the heart cries. Listen to your inner voice; that is your ultimate guide. For where there is peace, there is God.
Why do you go after seeking their validation? When it is Him alone, whom you need to please. To Him is your return. That is the final abode. If only you remember.
I have for a long time, struggled with handling criticism. The consequence of which, turned out to be this incessant need for validation. Needless to say, I lost my own voice in the process. Most of my decisions were made only after having gotten everyone’s approval, which you have figured by now, isn't quite possible. In doing so, every time, I didn’t get acceptance for what I like or want to do; I just let it go completely.
Now if it’s something as minute as buying a dress, then it doesn’t matter much in the long run. But when this habit further penetrates into major life decisions, such as choosing a life partner or making an important career choice, then you start living a life, which is not even true to yourself. Instead, you are being pushed around by the opinions of the ones around you, quite literally, in a jerky manner.
How do you know that you are addicted to constant validation? Well, are you so fearful of criticisms that it results in the utter avoidance of a task you actually always wanted to do? Are you giving up just because you are apprehensive about what people might say about you? If you are nodding away, then chances are, you are limiting yourself by a wide margin.
The flip side of that is, perfectionism. In this case, you are doing every thing possible, sometimes to the point of burning yourself out, just to make sure nothing goes wrong and everyone’s happy with you. Ironically, however, quite the contrary happens, because you tumble down due to such an unrealistic pressure you have put on yourself. This characteristic also has its root in the need for validation.
"To avoid criticism, say nothing, do nothing, be nothing."
- Fred Shero
Avoiding criticism is simple, but you are discounting yourself, by not showing the world who you really are. If you truly want to go after your dreams, and do something of value, then criticism is an inevitable part of it. It can be constructive; it can also be a negative one —coming from someone out of jealousy, or due to sheer unawareness. Regardless, it’s not personal, so move on and keep doing you.
Being so addicted to positive reinforcement is what actually leads to negativity. The problem is not your choices; there is no need to make changes to them. The problem is your need to please other people to get their approval. When you realise this root problem, that’s when you will be content with all that you have and start having faith in yourself and your decisions.
Change Your Internal Dialogue
In order to get past the need for validation, you have to practice self-acceptance. Talk to yourself with compassion, quite like how you would talk to a child. After all, we all are walking adults with an inner child that’s wounded and needs love!
The first step is awareness. Learn to observe your self-talk, when you find yourself in a place where you are feeling inadequate due to the lack of approval from external sources. Label the judgemental thoughts and the accompanying emotions. Doing so is a step towards gaining control over your internal state.
Accepting your emotions and letting it pass through you, builds resiliency and trust in yourself. Remember, that what you are thinking and feeling is totally valid but may not necessarily be the truth, so let it go!
Use Your Past to Understand Your Patterns
Try to dig in deeper and get to the root of your need for approval. It is merely a side effect of a larger underlying problem, which in most cases, is related to a low self-esteem.
Chances are, it is a habit you picked up growing up, to somehow fuel your self-worth or to simply cope with its lack. Like any other habit, it then becomes a part of who you are. The solution to this is to replace this bad coping skill with a better and more helpful one.
Keeping a gratitude journal, where you can jot down what you already have accomplished, keeps you present and focused on the good things happening around you, so that you don’t even have to seek it from anywhere else. Practicing gratitude helps in switching your mind and changing its focus, akin to how you would tune into the channel you would like to listen to on a radio.
This habit of seeking constant approval is hardwired in our subconscious, therefore, practicing daily positive affirmations could help in rewiring your subconscious mind. This can be part of your journaling or you can say it to yourself, for example, after a meditation practice. Some affirmations may include,
“I am enough.”
“I am capable of making decisions.”
“I am not my thoughts.”
“I am living a purposeful life, that is true to myself.”
The brain, is highly plastic, and can be rewired, with repetition. Therefore, the more you practice, the better you become.
Tune Into Your Heart
The validation you need is internal, not external. Try to find true happiness by developing a more stable relationship with yourself. What you need to remember is that you are not responsible for the way others think or feel about you. No matter what you do, people will still talk. In accepting that, you liberate yourself from its tight grasp.
The only approval we need is from ourselves, and that keeps the control squarely within us. Listen to your inner voice. If your heart is at peace, then you are most likely on the right track. I believe, peace of heart is a direct guidance from the Almighty — the Creator. Your intuition is your navigation device; use it!
Redefine Your Priority:
Your priority should be finding your purpose in life, and relentlessly working towards it. Not to please others, but rather for your own peace and satisfaction, and to ultimately please the Almighty. The fact of the situation is that this life is temporary and we have all been sent here for a reason — and it’s certainly not to waste our precious time in doubting ourselves. So live authentically and get past your fears, because you are definitely worth more than that!
Originally published on my Medium, on November 22, 2019. Click here to access it.