Practical tips: How to stop seeking validation and approval form others. Part 2

Now that we have established how we seek validation from others, we can bring mindfulness to our way of being everyday. The next step is to find a proper method to incorporate change. I also will try to provide general advices in order to improve as a whole, which will make the need of seeking validation less necessary.

You will often find that when you start noticing how you seek validation from others, you will feel a lot more free and unbothered. It’s like a weight is lifted of your shoulders in social situations and you can just be who you are.
You may also start to notice ways other people attempt to seek validation. In fact, it might start to pop up everywhere. I believe a high majority of us has attention seeking behaviors with varying degree.

The first thing with need to do in order to be free of our validation seeking patterns is to Actively try to change our behaviors. We do that by:

Keeping track and measuring improvements:

In order to really change your behavior overtime, you have to keep track of what you are doing. Ideally you should notice your behaviors as they happen, as well as reflect on them when you have the time.

Start to notice your behaviors and catch yourself, maybe you can delay or even refrain yourself form seeking validation:
-Notice when you are afraid or fail to disagree with people (why, what are you afraid of)
-Notice when you are comparing yourself with other people (why, how does it make you feel)
-Notice when yo are trying to get attention by being loud and overly present (what are you after)
-Notice when you are trying to get attention by being a victim (why, what’s your motive)
-Notice when you are trying to get attention by bragging, being a winner (are you being overly competitive, are compensating for something?)
-Notice when you feel compel to please others and be ‘nice’ (why?, for who and in what circumstances?)
-Evaluate the motivation behind what you do, (am I doing this for the approval of someone else, or am I doing this for myself?)
-Did I stop myself from doing something I was drawn to?
-Did I let other people mistreat me without speaking up?
-At some point during the day, did I feel; not enough, like a failure, down on my luck
-At Some point during, did I engage in: gossiping, being pretentious, little white lies, needily pleasing others, stopping myself for disagreeing, compare myself, failed to say no even if I wanted to, acted like a victim, complaining, been overly apologetic, got upset or thrown tantrums, waited for or sought permission, made excuses.

You will likely identify more strongly with a few of these behaviors, which should be your main point of focus.
Keep track of behavior by journaling or habit tracking: Maybe write down your feelings and impressions or keep track of how many times you’ve done a certain behavior. Identify the whys?
The more regularly you do that, the more you will start to notice your emerging patterns, and the true motives behind them.o say no even if I wanted to

Five step process to change and transform any of you social behaviors and patterns overtime:

Keep track of everything surrounding the behaviors (feelings, thoughts, triggers, circumstances, frequency, etc)
Plan and prepare for when the behavior is likely to happen, visualise yourself dealing with the situation differently with the solutions you’ve come up with.
Stop and pause when it happens, try to either, not behave that way, delay behaving that way or replace it with a new more positive behavior.
Recondition yourself to have a different response and behavior to the previous triggers, by acting differently when the situation arrise, over and over again.
Feedback loop: It enters a feedback loop where you can keep track of the old vs new pattern. What helps, what fails and why. You can start changing progressively toward the desired outcome, in a result oriented process.

In order to make progressive change happen, you have to be committed. Change doesn’t always happen overnight, but the long term result can be remarkable.

Here are some extra tips to break the cycle of validation seeking:

On top of tracking you validation seeking behaviors and following the five step methods to change them, the following tips will help you change and reinforced your self-worth, the foundation from which you social behavior flows. Modifying your behaviors is treating the symptom, but you will be more effective if you treat the source as well.
We will be covering:
-Developing self-worth and strong values
Notice you inner language
-Find your voice,
-Learn to not give a F..K
-Being OK with pain
-Don’t shy from criticism
-Stand up for yourself
-Be intuitive and natural
-Being vulnerable and honest
-Limit social media
-Give attention to others
-Become more productive

Developing self-worth

Most if not all of validation seeking behavior comes form a perceived lack of self-worth. Therefore I believe the true cure of dealing with the symptoms is to deal with the source.

Learn that you are worthy, that you are enough and that you have the right to be you. More, you have the duty to be you, because nobody else in this world is going to fill your shoes. It might be a long process but it is likely the most important thing you can do for yourself, there are a few way you can go about it, some are complementary:
-Practice loving kindness meditation and self-forgiveness
-Capitalise on past achievements, learn new skills and competence
-Go through psychotherapy, hypnotherapy, coaching to strengthen your identity
-Use affirmation and self-improvement methods to learn to trust yourself more overtime
-Major breakthrough with high vulnerability moments, massive challenges, life changing experiences.

Whatever method you chose or what resonate with you, you have to take action in order to make a change.

Spend some time identifying your values:

More than your story, it is your values that define who you are:
-What is it that you believe is important?
-What do you want to provide to the world?
-Who do you want to be?
-What qualities are the most important in a person for you? Can you develop these qualities?

Try to embody and live by what is important to you. If you’re clear on what is meaningful to you, then you can present it to the world clearly and not be afraid to defend those values when confronted.

Maybe just pick one, say for example you want to be more generous. Start donating or volunteer for an organisation. When the situation arrise, you can speak about generosity, what you do and why it’s important for you. Find ways to be more generous in your life and notice when others are in need of help. But remember, no people pleasing!

Finding the balance between deserving attention and seeking attention:

It’s OK to get attention. We deserve to be noticed by others as we live in a community and society. However we must find a balance in our exchanges. A good relationship should fulfill both parties needs and be in an equilibrium of respect and space.
Take time to reflect on the relationships in your life, personal, family, friends, work, are you to present to the interaction? Are yo taking most of the space, or no space at all in the interaction?
Once you have established that, is there something you can do find a better balance?

Notice your self-language

Cognitive therapy can help you do that if you find it difficult to do it on your own. Your inner language plays an important part in how you feel and operate with the world. Developing the habits of thoughts that goes true your head, especially when you are talking to yourself about yourself is an important process. Meditation is often helpful in being more mindful of our inner language.

When we feel a sense of inferiority or insecurity there is often inner language that reflect that state, such as: “what were you thinking?” or “your such a loser”. It often takes the form of “you are so…blah blah blah”.

Only you knows what’s going on in your head. Is it mostly positive or negative. You have to learn to be rational and objective about how you judge the world and what you say to yourself.

Maybe start by doubting your thoughts. When you notice that you are internally commenting on yourself or others with judgments ask yourself: “Is at really true?” A lot of or thoughts are automatic and inaccurate, yet we rely upon them without a second glance.

You can also learn to be your own cheerleader by encouraging and supporting yourself with positive thoughts. As an exercise, try to flip around any negative thoughts into a positive one when you catch yourself. After a while, it becomes easier and it can really lift your mood.
For example, if your say to yourself “oh you’re so clumsy” flip it instead with something like “I am becoming attentive and in control of my body by the day”

There is obviously a balance and you do not want to fall into and objective delusion.
That’s why when I catch thoughts, I try to be as objective about them as possible and try to identify truths, going through positive, negative and opposites argument before I admit any validity and give credit to my mind.

“Remember, you have been criticizing yourself for years and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.” Louise Hay

Find your voice
In debate of ideas and opinions, in situation that requires decisions, get into the habit of asking yourself first:
Whats my opinion on this? Should I have one?

Sometime we readily accept others point of view without having gone through our own process of reasoning. It is good to have your own opinions instead of following others. It’s also OK to have no opinions at all, especially if you are not competent or lack data. People often draw conclusion randomly, you don’t have to follow along.

When someone tells you something need to be done, Do you agree? Does it have to be you? Is it beneficial for you? Be careful of others trying to pin you to their agenda.

If you find that you disagree with the current states of things, learn to speak up and provide new creative solutions or to say you disagree or refuse to follow through, stating your reasons and priorities. Nothing bad is going to happen, you are entitled to differ, refuse and think differently.

Learn to stop giving a f..k:

Most people don’t care that much about you. We tend to have a bias thinking that what we do have a big impact and that everybody will notice, but more often than not, they don’t. It’s the spotlight effect. Most people are busy with their lives and their own problems to pay attention to you. Instead of trying double hard to impress people, that should free you to do whatever you want.

On the other hand if you start to shine to bright, you will always find people who try to tear you down, because they have nothing better to do and your glory make them feel bad about themselves. Either way, people are unreliable.

Learn to not to care about their opinions and attention, do what makes you feel good regardless of other people. The opinions that matter is yours, that of your close ones, and maybe your competent peers. You can develop the attitude of being unphased and non reactive overtime:
-It comes from a strong sense of self and desires.
-Being grounded and secure
-being self satisfied and independent.
-making a point of being polarizing when you disagree
-being not conformist and understand how fickle other people attentions are.
-get into the mental habit of question weather or not it truly matters. Oftentimes we stress out about things that have very little impact in the bigger picture.

Not giving a F.ck is the opposite of approval seeking. Bit by bit, you can develop this habit of being and start being a badass. Of course you still have to care about some things, but not most of the things, which are irrelevant and drain your self-worth.

Warning: you still have to genuinely not care. This comes from the ability to let go, and focus on what is truly important to you, as well as being really secure. A lot of people overcompensate and pretend to not care to be cool in order to get attention and hide their misery.
You can fake it until you make it to some degree, and develop perspective and a non-responsive attitude. However don’t fall into the trap of being cold and uncaring, not being in touch with your inner feelings. You will have to find a balance.

Learn to be OK with not being OK:

We try to seek validation in order to feel good and to compensate bad feelings such as anxiety or low self-worth. If we learn to first accept these feelings inside of us, we will be less compelled to be driven by them.
The truth is everybody feels bad sometimes, and it’s OK to feel bad. Having moments when you are down is part of being human. Accepting your current state is the first path to feeling better.

Emotions are information that are sent by your body and psych. If you feel like shit most of the time, there might be things that you need to figure out and fix. Trying to ignore and run away from your feeling will not work, get to the bottom of what it is trying to tell you instead.

Emotions will often keep coming at you, stronger and stronger until you acknowledge them. There are like bits of information trying to point out things to your system. Being present to bad feelings and experiences is in itself a good thing because it allows you to grow. Oftentimes painful experience leads to breakthrough and life changing moments. In retrospects, we often look back on our challenges and hard times to feel proud and confident.

You can keep track of your emotions and feelings by journaling or being vulnerable with a confidant. Try to accept these experiences when they come. Methods such as EFT (emotional freedom technique), introspective meditation, and the Sedonna method (art of letting go), can be very helpful to appreciate the messages of your emotions and releasing them in order to feel better.

If you fell down yesterday, stand up today.” H. G. Wells

Learn to be vulnerable and honest:

You don’t have to perform, impress and try hard. If you feel down you can just be honest about it. In fact most of us are longing to let out some of our inner anxiety, but we rarely get the chance in this world of status and posturing.

Being honest about the things that make you vulnerable help others to do the same and let you depressurize. You can start by talking about your feelings, maybe your nervous or anxious or angry at yourself.
Just say: “I feel…” and talk about your feelings.

You can tell stories and facts about yourself that are difficult for you to talk about, maybe that does not put you in the best light, when the circumstances are right. This will lift a weight of your shoulders and help others come to your aid or connect with you.

Warning: You have to be appropriate when being vulnerable. It’s all about boundaries, you can share things that are a bit out of your comfort zone but not way past it, you will then appear needy and miserable instead of being genuine. Some people also use vulnerability in order to get attention, similar to self-victimisation, don’t fall into this trap. If you notice you feel sorry for yourself in oder to get attention, try to take responsibility instead.

A friend of mine one told me that “chosen vulnerability is a gift”. It really is, it allows people to be the most ‘real’ with one another and connect on a deeper level.

If you have no one to confine to in your life, maybe you can seek sharing or talking groups in your area.

Be intuitive and natural

You already have inside of you what you need to be more carefree and independent. You need to scan your self in order to find out what you inclinations and desires are. When we have low sense worth, we can start to stop trusting ourselves and our intuitions, but tuning in to what our guts tells us is often a good idea.

Be like an animal. Animals just do, they don’t calculate or care who is watching. They have their own programming and agendas, they just behave freely. We have more difficulty doing that because we project how are behaviors will be accepted by others, we think about consequences. It is useful but also inhibiting. We should be mindful in planning but free in action.

Try to let you ‘mental’ go, naturally move and do what you are drawn to. This often leads to take initiative, not asking for permission and figuring things out as you go. Try to play as if when you were a child. Feel the impulses inside of you and do out of fun and curiosity. Maybe you have been told that you need to be responsible and serious. But it doesn’t mean to stop being natural. It means choosing the right environment where you can let go and play. If you have a lot of responsibility at work, try to find time to blow at some steam. Find a job that you love, that let you be your natural self.

A good way to reconnect with this part of yourself is through a creative media; Learn something new,start to dance, move, draw, play music, improvisation or anything that lets you be natural and enjoy yourself.

Stop taking yourself seriously and have fun. Learning to just do things for fun will eliminated the need for performance and being notice, letting you feel good enough about yourself. Watch your self for moment when you are trying to perform and switch to play instead. Do for the simple joy of doing, not for appraisal or calculated consequences.

Don’t shy from criticisms

You will always find people that disagree with you, that doesn’t mean there right, or wrong. Take criticism for what they are, either not well put advices, or garbage trying to pull you down,

Try to be open minded. Being open minded does not mean to rally to others people point of view, nor it is sticking to what you say. Consider the intention behind the comment. It is to be helpful or hurtful.Learn to take emotions out of criticisms. If you find yourself getting emotional in the face of critics try to stop and pause, asses intentions, then act appropriately.

If you can’t deal with it at all, either remove yourself from the situation or ask for the conversation to take place another time because now is not good. Be proactive and chose a time and the interlocutor will most likely accept.

If you have an impossibility hearing critics, it means you are likely not grounded and confident in your self. Work on your self worth and criticisms will either help you or brush past you.

Warning: If you find constantly in the midst of critics however, you are probably in an environment trying to put your down. Maybe the people you hang out with don’t have your back. It might be time to change you relationships, so that you are supported with like minded individuals.

I much prefer the sharpest criticism of a single intelligent man to the thoughtless approval of the masses.” Johannes Kepler

Stand up for yourself

At some points, we are treated badly, things we do not deserve come our way. Having boundaries and standards on how people should treat you is a good things.

You should demand to be treated well because you deserve respect. Voice it when you are offended or when you believe people are not treating you right.

You don’t have to be forceful about it, just let them know that you know what is going on and that you don’t endorse it. You can be kind and compassionate while still lay out the limit of what is acceptable. It is all in your attitude and presentation.

You can complain when you receive bad service, people let you down and don’t follow up on their promises and engagements. Again, you don’t have to strong-arm others, but voice that you are dissatisfied in open communication so that the situation can move forward.

Challenge yourself to voice your lack of satisfaction when you encounter one of these situations. Start small if it is way out of your comfort zone. Maybe you can start with someone that does not intimidate you to much, an then take little calculated risks on bigger fish. After a while, it will become natural and you will be able to not take shit from anybody.

Warning: Don’t be an ass and have double standards either. We often find excuses and reasons when we treat other people badly, but when things our done to us, we attribute their bad behaviors to their trait of character. Have a high standard of yourself and try to treat others well. Even if you speak up, learn not to take personally, others can just be having a bad day. Tell them of not emotionally but gently, out of principle.

Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak, courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.” Winston Churchill

Be able to give attention to others

Giving attention to others often achieve a few things. You can put yourself on the sideline for a while and let other people have their moments, it can be helpful if you are addicted to be the center of attention all the time.

Giving other people attention also makes them feel good and makes it more likely that they will return the favor. You can then start a genuine exchange.

Try to develop the habit of being genuine and curious about others. Sometimes we find others uninteresting, but it is likely because we are not present and self-absorbed, or take them for granted.

Warning: don’t fall into the trap of being the only supporting person however and being a people pleaser. Move away from people that are absolutely self-centered that don’t care about you. We often support and give attention to such peoples out of neediness because we hope they will return the favor and treat us well, but it never happens.

In relationship an important fact to keep in mind is the balance of investment. Ideally both party should be equally invested in the relationship. If you find that you are putting a lot of effort into a relationship and not getting anything in return, you are probably needy, and taken advantage of.

Obviously circumstances, competence and status influence that balance, but relationships should always incorporate a certain degree of reciprocity to be positive. Sometimes sadly, both parties feels that they are providing more to the relationship and tension builds overtime. It is often the result of poor communication and misplaced intentions.

Try do stay proactive in your relationships and organise for things to happen. You will create value, and allow space for your relationships to flourish. What something you could organise for you and your close ones?

On the other hand. If you find yourself drained and being the only one putting in efforts, put it on the table and ask for others to do more. Bear in mind that it might be received with mixed response. It might be painful, but it might enlighten you to the fact that on the relationship is not value the same way on the other side. It might be time to move on.

Limit social medias

Unfortunately, a lot of people based their standard of life on what they see on social medias. The thing is that social medias are often based on lies. They are made up of highlights and the best of what people have going on in their lives, almost like a magasin. People tend to embellish what their life is actually like in order to appear cool.

You can be trap in two ways by social medias:

You start getting some validation and you become addicted to chasing it. You start portraying yourself with little white lies and do whatever it takes in order to get noticed.
Or you can constantly try to compete and compare yourself with other people that seem to have it better that you do.

Either way social media can lead to anxiety and damaging your self-worth. If that’s the case, you might want to stop using social media or at least try to limit the time you spend on it.

Try to notice how much time you spend on social media. Notice how you feel before, during and after engaging in it. If you suspect that social medias are affecting your happiness and self-worth, find a way to remove yourself from them. You can use tools to block access to these sites or bloc your feed stream.

Beome more productive:

It may sound stupid or unrelated but productivity can actually be a good cure for seeking approval. We don’t feel validated because we don’t feel that we have value, and sometimes it is true. Instead of trying to find approval with the little things that you have going on, become great. Become so great that others can’t ignore you. The easiest way to be valuable is to produce value.

Turn up your creativity and start doing things. Learn a craft or a new skill and practice. Try to bring something new to the table. Become more active and industrious. It will be easy if ou find something that you love doing. You will not only be more valuable, but it will also boost your confidence and happiness as well.

The advantages of having something to show for your effort are clear:
-You prove to yourself that you are valuable because you produce value. You can start and reinforce and healthy pattern of self-worth, by being competent and producing results.
-If anyone argue that you aren’t valuable, you have the output to dismantle their comments. You can literally show the fruit of your labor.
-You also give an opportunity for people to engage with you. Oftentimes we want appreciation but we are undeserving. If you start doing things that deserved to be commented on, people will engage more openly.
-Ultimately you should try to learn to create for yourself and others regardless of appreciation and notice. This happens once you are confident and secure in your knowledge that you contribute and that you are valuable.

Warning: This does not work if you are already being very productive in order to compensate a lack of self-esteem. If you constantly try to do more, and feel that you are always under-achieving, maybe you feel that you are not enough as you are now.
If that’s the case, ask yourself why that is. You don’t need to be the best, perfect, or always do better in order to deserve love, appreciation, peace, and rest.

Finally, I would like to remind you to persevere and be patient with yourself. if you have sought validation from others all your life, like I have, stopping will not happen overnight.

I really came into being
The day I no longer cared about
What the world thought of me,
Only on my thoughts for
Changing the world.”
Suzy Kassem

Constantly seeking validation is a plague that we inflict on ourselves and others. We can be our own source of inspiration and approval, know that we are in line with our own values.
Only when we start to support ourselves and do things for ourselves, act because we believe we are doing the right things instead of the lure of rewards and praises are we truly a positive force in the world. Wherever you are now, know that your are not alone and we are all trying to belong.

Know also that who you are is good enough and that you have a light inside of you that is waiting to be shown to the world. Do not use that light to blind yourself and others but to guide instead. In order to “be the change that you want to see in the world”, you have to start following your heart, and discard the bullshit, the lies and the fear, and you can.

I hope that you incorporate some of these ideas, and that you can gradually free yourself from the burden of social conformity and personal insecurity.
Thank you for reading

All the Best
Vince

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