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Beyond the Likes: Understanding External Validation

Updated: Jul 2

Do you ever find yourself constantly seeking the approval of others? Maybe you meticulously craft social media posts, anxiously seeking likes and comments. Perhaps you bend over backwards to please your friends, colleagues, or even strangers. If so, you're not alone. External validation, the act of relying on external approval for our sense of self-worth, is a common experience, both online and offline.


finding self-worth from within
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What is External Validation?

External validation is the act of seeking approval from others to define our self-worth. This approval can come in many forms, including:


  • Likes and comments on social media

  • Compliments and praise

  • Approval from friends, family, or colleagues

  • External validation can be a powerful motivator, driving us to achieve or behave in certain ways.


However, relying solely on external validation can have significant drawbacks. Anything external to us is an unreliable source, as it is changeable and can go up and down. 


The Downside of External Validation

Overdependence on external validation can lead to several issues:


  • Low self-esteem: When our self-worth hinges on external approval, it becomes fragile and vulnerable to criticism or rejection.

  • People-pleasing: We may constantly try to please others, even at our own expense, to avoid disapproval.

  • Hindered personal growth: We may shy away from taking risks or expressing ourselves authentically for fear of not being accepted.

  • Anxiety and stress: The constant pressure to seek approval can be a significant source of anxiety and stress.


Building Internal Validation

Fortunately, there are ways to cultivate a healthier sense of self-worth based on internal validation:


  • Focus on your values: Identify what's important to you and live according to your own principles.

  • Practice self-compassion: Treat yourself with kindness and understanding, just as you would a good friend.

  • Celebrate your accomplishments: Acknowledge your achievements, big and small.

  • Set realistic goals: Focus on achievable goals that contribute to your personal growth.

  • Develop healthy boundaries: Learn to say "no" and prioritise your own needs and well-being.

  • Mindfulness practices: Techniques like meditation can help you focus on the present moment and accept yourself without judgment.


By developing these skills and practices, you can build a stronger sense of self-worth that comes from within, independent of external approval.


Seeking Professional Help

If you struggle with low self-esteem or find yourself constantly seeking external validation, consider seeking help from a psychologist. A therapist can provide evidence-based strategies for developing internal validation and building healthy self-esteem.


Remember, you are not alone. External validation is a common challenge, but it's one you can overcome. By focusing on internal validation and self-compassion, you can build a stronger, more authentic sense of self-worth and live a more fulfilling life.


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