Even the most successful people have moments of doubt, or times when they don’t feel worthy. While I’ve learned to not get into this space as much, feeling the need for outside validation is something I’ve struggled with. The need for approval, praise, or some sign that I’m enough. This is something I’ve also noticed many others struggle with.
Allowing other people to validate who we are or what we do is not a bad thing. What’s bad is when we use that as a crutch and continually victimize ourselves by repeating the same old story.
Being a homeschooled child, I was protected from a lot of the school yard antics a majority of children go through. This is one of the places where children grow up learning to fear showing their true selves. For a short time, I did go to a private school. That was my first real exposure to “outside” people influencing who I was.
First hand, I saw what bullies were like, and was swept into the clique-ish behaviors of “fitting in” so I would feel accepted, and “dissing the dorks.” While, at the time, I wasn’t aware of being affected by the opinions of people I only knew on a superficial level, it was enough exposure to leave me feeling the need to hide who I was for fear of rejection.
So, I sympathize with people who have gone through years of that nonsense and experience self-doubt and the sense of needing others to give them the “Okay.” Even if that wasn’t your childhood experience, I still understand you.
While I still catch myself behaving in ways to “feel accepted,” I’ve gotten better at shaking off that need, and am constantly striving to improve. Through parental guidance, self-development education, and self-reflection I’ve learned a thing or two about how to overcome the need of outside validation.
Stand Up Straight. I can typically tell if someone has been in the military because of the way they stand tall and walk into a place. They appear fully comfortable with themselves. Besides the fact that their healthy and muscular physique practically shouts “military training,” they always look confident, whether they feel that way inside or not. Looking the part goes a long way toward in being that way.
Seek Out Confident People. Whether you read self-development books or find someone in your network, connect with someone who is confident. Observe how they behave. If it’s a public figure then YouTube them and watch how they talk, the language they use, and how they carry themselves. Good examples of public figures who I think embody confidence and self-worthiness are: Darren Hardy, founder of Success Magazine; Tony Robbins author of “Awaken the Giant Within” and well known public speaker; Marie Forleo, founder of B-School and blogger at www.MarieForleo.com where she helps people “create a business and life they love.” I highly recommend tuning in to these three entrepreneurs, as they have valuable tips about mindset, self-awareness, and self-development.
Write Your Ideal Self. The power of words has moved and changed people for centuries. If you need an example, look at the Bible. Write down the person you WANT to be. Create a bullet list, a paragraph, whichever, just put words on paper and create the ideal you. If you aren’t sure how to start writing that, here are a few questions to ponder:
- How would I like to be remembered?
- What impression would I like to give to my kids? (if you have kids.)
- What could I gain from changing my negative thoughts?
Change Your Mind. Something my mom said the other day stuck with me. “A stranger has no idea about you. They don’t know your history, they don’t know about your lack of confidence, or that you feel worthless. When you meet a stranger, there is nothing stopping you from appearing like the person you would like to be. Nothing at all stopping you from being real.” That really impacted me in a positive way. Truth is, nobody can get in your head and hear all the negativity swirling around. All they see is the outside reflection of who you’ve decide to be. So choose to be different. And remember that so many others are going through the exact same thing. You don’t have to. Decide to open up. Doing so creates a space where others can relax and feel safe.
We’re all guilty of enjoying everyone’s praise, it feels great to hear how awesome we are. There is nothing wrong with that, unless you depend on it. If you don’t feel great on the inside, if you use your negative self-talk as victimization for validation, you’ll end up miserable.
Outside validation isn’t wrong, but relying solely on that will never make you a happy person. It all starts with feel confident no matter what others think.
Do you constantly seek validation from everyone around you? What ways are you working with being more confident in yourself? Let me know in the comments!