A lot of us have this very frustrating and debilitating habit of looking for external validation. We need to be told by others that we are lovable, that we have succeeded, that we are good people, etc. Some people do this by seeking compliments and attention. Others, by being involved in codependent relationships. The truth is, there are many ways to find external validation. The problem is that it’s not good for us in the long run.
When you need the assurances of other people you are stunting your growth, you’re doubting yourself and you’re coming from a place of fear. I’ve found that nearly all our choices can be simplified down to two motivations. Fear or love. Imagine a scenario where you are in a long term relationship and things are going south. So much so, you and your significant other are reconsidering the reality of being together. In this case, you have two choices. You can be afraid, or you can be the embodiment of love. You can be afraid of loneliness, losing security, or losing the idea of a person and relationship that was once so valued. You can simply be afraid of the change.
Imagine if you acted on this. Maybe you make compromises for the relationship that you shouldn’t make. You begin to think if you could be different, then maybe it wouldn’t have come to this. You could take too much responsibility and a hit to your self-esteem. You might slip into a state of deep depression from being so overwhelmed by everything that has happened. Maybe you continue to reach out to the ex after it ends, attempting to reclaim the idea that you are lovable. Perhaps you get back together out of desperation and habit.
Imagine for a minute that you become love. You see this person for who they are and you love them with detachment. You love them without thinking about what they mean to you or what they give you. The reason you are capable of this is because you love yourself unconditionally and you know that you aren’t defined by this relationship. It could give you the clarity to work through your issues, or it gives you the strength to walk away so you can both find real happiness.
This kind of thinking can be applied throughout your life when you give up the need for external validation. Here are some tips on how to overcome it.
1. Keep a gratitude journal and include yourself.
Make a list of the things you’re grateful for or the things that brought you joy throughout the day. But somewhere in that list, include yourself. Take the time to appreciate your personality or your outer beauty.
2. Say a powerful mantra to yourself for five minutes before bedtime.
A few of my favorites are “I am a beautiful person and I have a beautiful life” and “I love myself, I love my life.” Saying it before bedtime will help it sink into your subconscious.
3. Compliment yourself often.
If you make a good meal, have a great workout, had an empowering moment at work or like a physical feature, make it known to yourself.
4. Give yourself what you seek.
When you go to someone else for validation, think about what it is you want from them and give it to yourself. If you want a compliment, or made to feel cared about, give yourself those things first.
5. Be more present in your life.
A lot of times when we get into the habit of going to other people, we live on auto pilot. Be present, be aware and be assertive. Take control over your decisions and choices. Live in the moment and enjoy it.
6. Love first.
In a moment of distress, ask yourself if you are coming from love or fear. If you are coming from fear, tell yourself that you are going to love yourself through the issue. Lift yourself up with compliments and meeting your needs. Find the love in the situation before responding.