Approval and Validation are two words that most of us aren’t strangers to. Why, you ask? 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 spend 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.
Why is social networking so popular? Of course there’s the networking part. But c’mon, is that really why we put up a status message every nano-second, check-in to every goddamn place we visit and post 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 locked-up in a hard disk somewhere? 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 cut’s across all walks of life. How many times have we heard clichéd dialogues like “Honey, do I look fat?”or “Was I any good?” I know, 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. If we were happy in our own skin, we could just walk around covered in plantain leaves, no? Why do we do anything for that matter that has no direct monetary bearing? 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 self-satisfied; we need others to corroborate what we believe. 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 whores than the rest! While most people seek validation because they’re not comfortable in their skin, there are a few who seek validation to justify their actions.
I’m not saying that the need for 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.
Do you have have any stories of how the need for validation has jeopardized your personal relationships or your self-respect in anyway? Do share.