Growing up with abusive parents is a truly horrific experience. The abuse takes a deep root inside of you & does a tremendous amount of damage. One common way that damage manifests is the need for validation from other people. If you think this doesn’t describe you, then please read on anyway. You just might learn something about yourself.
External validation is great. It’s always nice when other people praise you or say that something that was done to you was wrong. However, adult children of abusive parents often take the desire for such things to an extreme. It is quite clear that is what is happening when a person displays certain behaviors.
Someone who drops hints about something good they have done or a good quality they have may be seeking external validation. The praise that other people give them in such situations is very welcomed since it tells this person that they really are OK, good, smart, attractive, valuable, etc.
Similarly, exaggerating a person’s good deeds or qualities is another cry for external validation. As the saying goes, you don’t see commercials for Rolls Royce cars because they know their worth & value. They don’t need to convince others they are great. Anyone who feels they must magnify their good qualities is doing so in the hopes of gaining praise & external validation.
Excessive posting on social media can be a sign of someone looking for external validation. Someone who shares a lot about their life on social media may be seeking “likes” & positive comments as a way to gain some external validation.
Please don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying a person who mentions something positive they have done, a positive quality they have or who shares on social media is completely dysfunctional. Not at all! I’m simply saying these things when done in excess can be a sign of someone who is seeking external validation & that is unhealthy.
External validation is great, but it truly shouldn’t be extremely, over the top important to anyone. If it is, this is a sign of something wrong, such as low self esteem or envy. It also can be a sign of a personality disorder. Narcissists clearly take this to an extreme since they demand approval & praise from others, but those with Borderline Personality Disorder may also seek external validation frequently.
Being hyper-focused on external validation can be truly disruptive to a person’s life. It can damage or ruin relationships with its neediness. Even the most patient people get tired of feeling as if they constantly must reassure someone at some point.
If you feel a strong need for external validation, you can fix this problem! I know, because I once felt that need but no longer do. I hope what I did helps you too!
The first step for me was to turn to God. I asked Him for help, to show me what I needed to do to be healthier & to help me understand who He says I am. I also studied what the Bible says about believers. There are a lot of Scriptures about what God thinks of His children! It’s very eye opening!
I watched my behavior, too. If I realized I was starting to seek validation from other people, I stopped myself. I asked myself why I felt this was necessary. I also asked myself why I felt I needed the approval of this particular person. If that person was dysfunctional, I realized that their approval truly wasn’t important. They naturally would only praise dysfunctional behaviors so why would I want their validation?! I also realized that those who are functional won’t make me feel I have to beg for validation. They offer it freely.
Rather than turning to people for validation, I turned inward. I acknowledged my feelings & thoughts. If I felt that I did something well, I praised myself. If I recognized something I’ve been through was wrong or bad, I told myself that. My validation became good enough for me. That took some time but it did happen & was well worth the wait!
I hope if you are seeking external validation in excess, you can change your ways. People are fallible human beings, which means they will fail you sometimes. Constantly looking to them for validation is setting yourself up for disappointment. Instead, turning to God for it & learning to validate yourself will be much more fulfilling for you!