Why Do We Seek Validation and Approval?

Approval and Validation are two words that most of us aren’t strangers to. Because we’re constantly seeking approval and validation, from family, relatives, friends, peers and even strangers. This topic has intrigued me for a while and it got me thinking. I realized that we spend our entire lives in the quest for validation without even realizing it.

As toddlers, every clap, ever laughter told us that we were doing good and it egged us on to do better. As kids, we used to look to our parents for a smile or a nod that could be construed as a mark of approval.  We spent our entire school years trying to fit in, doing whatever it takes to be accepted. And our whole career and family life is spent trying to be liked and accepted, fearing criticism, yearning adulation and craving validation.

Steve Jobs Quote

Why is social networking so popular? Of course there’s the networking part. But is that really why we put up a status message every second of everyday, check-in to every nook and cranny that we visit, and is it why we post a thousand pictures with duck-faces? I don’t think so. Some people may say that they’re documenting memories. Well, in that case why not just buy a good old photo album or save your pictures on a hard disk. or on the cloud? Let’s face it, we do it because we want others to see it. We want them to compliment us. We seek their approval!

And this compulsive need for validation cuts across all walks of life. How many times have we heard people fishing for compliments with clichés like “Honey, do I look fat?”or “Was I any good?” Way too many times! Also look at it this way, why would any of us take the time and effort to dress-up and to look good if we didn’t seek approval. Why do we do anything for that matter? The answer is pretty simple.  We need validation!

Why do we seek approval/validation?

Because we don’t trust ourselves to make our own judgments. It’s not good enough for us that we are confident about ourselves; we need others to validate what we believe to be true. One has to realize that there’s a very fine line between seeking validation and objectively looking at suggestions/comments and making up your own mind. Also, people who are highly self-conscious tend to be bigger approval-seekers than the rest. While most people seek validation because they’re not comfortable in their own skin, there are a few who seek validation to justify their actions.

I’m not saying that seeking validation is a bad thing, as long as your life does not depend on how others perceive you or what you do. I know my life has so far revolved around my constant need for validation and now I’m striving to turn my life around because I realized I spent all these years trying to please people that I don’t even really care about. And it’s not even that. What’s worrying is how little I think about myself and how highly I place what others think of me. This need for validation will not go away overnight and I bet you it’ll never go away completely. I guess the statement “Humans will forever seek validation” is as universal and true a fact as “There are no unselfish deeds”.

Here’s a good read for you from Oprah’s website on the topic of approval.

28 thoughts on “Why Do We Seek Validation and Approval?

  1. Louis-Jacob Lebel May 15, 2020 — 6:06 PM

    “Because we don’t trust ourselves to make our own judgments.” That was the answer I was looking for. You probably don’t want any validation from me, but anyways thanks for pointing this out.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Seeking validation is a bad thing. It means you care what others think. Asking your wife or parents opinion or approval is much different than someone on the street.

    The reason why we do it is contingent on the situation. Someone who works out to feel normal, or gain compliments on the street has very low self esteem.

    It has nothing to with connecting with someone, because if u need someone to approve of the way u look to feel validated u are a very insecure person


  3. I believe we seek validation as humans due to our lack of personal understandings of ourselves. As children it’s understandable. You don’t know what validation is until you receive it. And as parents we want to encourage our children too. But at some point a line is crossed. Where parents identify too much with their child or where the child “requires” validation. These points are difficult to understand unless the parents understand themselves first. That is our job as parents. To understand our needs as adults and to not look at our children as extensions of ourselves but as the individuals they are and approval/validation of our children should not be a driving force for either. Easy words to say, harder words to live. In the end, only God can judge us. We are not in a position to judge each other, including our children. Truth is so hard to swallow, is it not?


    1. Very good topic and something that so many of us feel. All human beings need connection to others as well as separateness…an individual identity. It’s a basic emotional need like water.

      Like many people, I grew up in a dysfunctional family where approval was often withheld and where individuality was not encouraged…the message: “I like you when you’re like me but not when you are you.” Whatever you are is never quite enough…”if you were more successful, prettier, smarter, better, I’d be proud of you and love you.” You can’t win that game. It’s like computer simulation designed by Spock that no one could win unless they hacked the system like James T. Kirk. Logic tells us we can’t win…we don’t love with logic but with emotion so we keep trying to change the outcome. What is consistently not being met are your emotional needs…like a flower dying in the desert.

      Why does someone withhold approval? We assume that we’re not good enough or too emotionally needy but that’s not what drives this dynamic. It’s a consistent behavior with a goal. So what is the endgame? Control…”if you do things my way, I’ll love you”. Love however is not about control, or power…love is acceptance…liking someone in spite of their imperfections and sometimes even being fond of their foibles.

      If we look around, there are people in our lives who are supportive who think we’re fine just the way we are. Sometimes, we take them for granted because we buy into the “not good enough” mindset. Reality check here. These are the good folks that matter in our lives. Those who don’t value others…let them cut their teeth on someone else for a change. Emotionally, they are so remote that they may as well be a stranger one might meet on a bus. We have permission to stop looking for love from those who are incapable of mutual, loving relationships.

      Leo Buscalia conjectured that heaven was a vast banquet with everything you could want. All the people were well fed and happy. The only thing odd was that the forks and knives were 4 ft long. Hell on the other hand was exactly the same…amazing banquet, 4 ft. long forks and knives…but the dinner guests were gaunt and starving. The difference was that in heaven they fed one another.

      We have what we need all around us. Grieve what was not given, let it go and cherish those in our lives who matter.


  4. Good topic, but bringing white people in the center stage and then you bring up oprah at the end of your blog, interesting. Is Opeah the center of your approcal.


    1. I did not bring up Oprah, I was referring an article posted on her website.


    2. I has effects me, although the difference is that I now know not to let it effect me any further. Like when I touched something very cold, I don’t get depressed or mad, but I still feel the cold. and I don’t touch it again.


  5. Do you work for Oprah, are you seeking her approval. You talk about validation and Approcal then you being up oprah, now that’s real funny…..


  6. I feel true, there are lots of incidences i found in my workplace, people are craving for recognization, valudation, they think everybody should say they are right.
    But it looks mania, instead of wasting of validation, they should work on inner peace.


  7. Good topic and good to discuss it


  8. Future Engineer October 7, 2014 — 1:02 AM

    External Validation is the SOURCE of the Ego. A dastardly emotional dysfunction that we are ingrained with as children. First of all from mother. Mother smiles and soothes and rewards when we behave as she wants. The ego is born of her validation and begins the sickness of the Ego. it’s inseparable from our current paradigms of child -rearing, Self-help and religious doctrine and dogma are based in setting up the person to feel different from everyone else and then seek validation through some mechanism only available in those doctrines and dogmas.

    Certainly seeking validation and approval is a symptom of an immature perspective of one’s place in the Universe. When we understand the eminence of the perfect state we are all born into, validation becomes unnecessary. We have as a species however, clouded and befuddled our collective vision with Religion and Societal nonsense.


    1. Can you elaborate on understanding the eminence of the perfect state?


  9. I have noticed myself consciously seeking validation with a certain individual in my life and am almost desperate to get it. I am not getting it but continue to do things for it. Not receiving a simple thank you is driving me mad…


  10. It didn’t spoil relationships , it ruined myself . My whole life was filled with wanting approval from others . The only way to be happy is to live for yourself .


    1. That, I guess is something that most of us battle with, throughout our lives. But, rising above it all and being happy in one’s own skin is no mean feat. And if you’ve managed to do that, then there’s nothing that can come in between yourself and happiness. I hope you’re at a much better place in your life now. Thanks for commenting Tan.


  11. I like this post, but I’d like to add that, while needing validation for self acceptance is probably a bad idea, seeking validation, and enjoying it when it happens is just part of human nature. Also, think of the joy available to us when we validate others.


    1. I agree, but spare a thought for the people who yearn or even beg for validation and what it does to their self-esteem/morale, when they don’t get any.


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