Feeling validated can go a long way to having good mental wellbeing, even in bad situations. But which type, external or internal validation, is more important and how can we use that knowledge? Continue reading to find out.
What Is External Validation?
According to Psych Central, external validation is where other people acknowledge your strengths, emotions, and efforts. This form of acknowledgement is something we can rely on from our loved ones and managers in the form of support and encouragement.
There’s nothing wrong with getting external validation, as it can be very motivating and it’s nice to be appreciated. The problem is when you struggle to function without it, then it’s a problem. When we only focus on external validation, it means we have to rely on others to provide us with validation, and if we don’t get that, it can have a very negative effect on our mental wellbeing (Modern Therapy).
This form of validation can be a factor in issues such as perfectionism and people-pleasing. For example, you may not want to disagree with people because then you might not get your need for validation from that person met.
What Is Internal Validation?
Whereas external validation is about getting validation from others, internal validation is about validating yourself. It’s about using your own positive views of yourself to validate your own experiences, allowing us to reinforce the positive view we have of ourselves (Film and TV Charity).
The internal validation of your own feelings or, at the very least, the non-judgment of your feelings allows us to recognise our own achievements and when we’ve tried out best (Foundations Asheville). It can also help us to do better next time, rather than relying on that feeling to come from others. And if that external validation never comes, then it can lead to us feeling down rather than motivated to do better next time.
How To Cultivate Internal Validation
Cultivating internal validation is an essential aspect of building self-confidence, self-worth, self-esteem, and a strong sense of self. So here are some strategies to help you develop internal validation:
I say this a lot and for good reason. Be kind to yourself. Also, understand that everyone makes mistakes and faces challenges. Treat yourself with the same understanding and empathy you would offer a friend in need. Be gentle with yourself during difficult times.
Pay attention to your thoughts and feelings without judgment. Be aware of your emotions and recognise that they are valid, even if they may seem uncomfortable or difficult. Also, be kind to yourself when you catch yourself making comparisons. Remind yourself that it’s a natural tendency, but it’s also something you can work on overcoming.
Acknowledge your efforts whenever you accomplish something, even if it’s minor. Recognise and appreciate your efforts and successes and give yourself credit for the hard work you put into achieving your goals. Acknowledge your strengths and achievements without seeking validation from others.
Also, acknowledge the progress you make, regardless of the outcome. Because each step forward is an achievement worth recognising.
Switch your self-talk game up
Be mindful of negative self-talk and challenge it when it arises. Replace self-critical thoughts with positive and encouraging affirmations and improve your positive self-talk. One way to do this could be to remind yourself of your strengths, achievements, and capabilities.
Focus on personal growth
Instead of comparing yourself to others, concentrate on your progress and growth. Avoiding comparisons is crucial for cultivating internal validation and maintaining a healthy sense of self-worth. Constantly comparing yourself to others can lead to feelings of inadequacy, jealousy, and low self-esteem.
Understand that comparisons rarely lead to positive outcomes. It can be demotivating, create feelings of resentment, and distract you from your own path and goals. Strive to be a better version of yourself, not a better version of someone else. Direct your energy toward self-improvement and development.
Making comparisons might be a common human tendency, but it’s also something you can consciously work on reducing in your life. Embrace your uniqueness and value yourself for who you are, rather than measuring yourself against others. By shifting your focus inward and practising self-acceptance, you can cultivate greater internal validation and a stronger sense of self-worth.
Remember that everyone’s journey is unique, and your path may differ from others, it’s okay to have different paths and timelines, and that’s okay.
One way that can help you get started on this is to write down your thoughts, feelings, and achievements regularly in a journal. This practice can help you gain perspective and reinforce self-validation.
Surround yourself with supportive people
Build a network of friends, family, and other people who encourage and support your personal growth. Their positive influence can reinforce your self-belief. Build relationships with individuals who inspire and uplift you rather than trigger feelings of comparison or make you feel like shit. And if the latter is an issue, consider cutting them out of your life if they’re not willing to change. Life’s too short to be surrounded by people who only make you feel worse.
Accept failure, accept yourself, and practice mindfulness
Failure is a natural part of life. Instead of letting it undermine your self-esteem, view it as a chance to learn and grow stronger. So, instead of beating yourself up over mistakes or failures, extract valuable lessons from these experiences and use them to improve. Understand that everyone makes mistakes and has flaws, I know I do.
Embrace your imperfections as a natural part of being human, and don’t be too hard on yourself when things don’t go as planned. Everyone has their own struggles and successes.
Be present in the moment and accept yourself as you are, flaws and all. Mindfulness can help you detach from judgment and appreciate yourself without comparison. It can also be helpful to develop a positive and empowering mantra that you can repeat to yourself when you need a reminder of your worth and capabilities.
Limit seeking external validation
Start by becoming aware of your thoughts and feelings. Recognise the patterns of seeking external validation and identify when you may be overly dependent on others’ opinions. Although it’s natural to seek some external validation, try not to rely solely on it to feel good about yourself. Find validation from within by recognising your efforts and achievements.
One way to do this might be to limit how often you use social media because they can exacerbate the comparison cycle. Be mindful of the time you spend on social platforms and consider taking breaks if you find yourself constantly comparing yourself to others. Social media sites are also set up to make you want to get likes and comments on anything you post, which just feeds your need for external validation. So try to ignore how many likes your posts get. Likes aren’t clicks of validation.
Seek professional help
If you struggle with deeply ingrained patterns of seeking external validation or have low self-esteem, consider seeking support from a therapist or counsellor.
Cultivating internal validation is a journey that takes time and consistent effort. Be patient with yourself and celebrate every step you take toward building a healthier self-perception. Remember, practising self-validation involves recognizing and appreciating your own thoughts, feelings, and actions without seeking external approval or validation.
A need for external validation can be problematic, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore all external validation altogether. Having your sense of self-worth and self-esteem dictated solely by external validation would leave you at risk. By focusing more on your internal validation, you’re more likely to have better mental health and levels of happiness. But of course, still accept external validation when appropriate.
After all, if you’re loved ones aren’t giving you any sort of validation, especially in situations where it would be expected, then there may be something wrong within that relationship that needs addressing.
Remember that practising internal validation is an ongoing process, and it’s normal to have moments of self-doubt. Be patient with yourself, and over time, you will strengthen your ability to validate and appreciate yourself for who you are.
As always, leave your feedback in the comments section below. Also, please share your experiences with external and internal validation in the comments section below as well. Don’t forget, if you want to stay up-to-date with my blog, then sign up for my newsletter below. Alternatively, get push notifications for new articles by clicking the red bell icon in the bottom right corner.
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Unwanted Life readers.