How to Avoid the Validation Trap

By Eric Charles, MA., PhD-c


“You need to love yourself and be yourself one hundred percent before you can actually love someone else.” ~Christina Perri

1. Accept your susceptibility
We are most likely going to be caught in the validation trap when thinking we are not vulnerable to it. Each of us are susceptible to needing external validation. If you are reading this and thinking, “No way not me,” all I can say is, yeah right. We all like to be recognized. We all like to feel significant.

2. Understand where the craving comes from
If you had parents who nurtured you unconditionally and you developed an uncommon sense of security, I envy you. Most of us were not dealt such circumstances. Most of us had parents who did the best they could even though their best wasn’t very good. If we did not receive the validation we needed as children, how can we expect not to want to be seen, heard, cared for or reassured by someone else?

3. Take breaks from social media
Make plans with friends, family or a significant other to do activities that do not involve social media. Set time limits so you do not end up spending your entire afternoon working on a blog post, liking photos on Instagram or browsing through Facebook. Make an agreement with the person or people you are with that cell phones are off limits for a certain length of time. Imagine how nice it would be if we could momentarily settle our minds from the constant urge to check our social media status.

4. Accept yourself first and always
You do not need to achieve anything to be worthy of love. Seriously. Say it out loud and see how it feels, “I do not need to achieve anything to be worthy of love.” Say it out loud again. If you skipped doing this and are just continuing to read, that says something. So again, let’s try it. “I do not need to achieve anything to be worthy of love.” How did that feel? All of us can benefit from repeating a mantra like this to ourselves. If it is difficult then maybe there is some work for you to do in this area.

5. Catch yourself when validating others
Maybe your need to feel validated goes unnoticed because you mask it by constantly validating others. Why? Because you know if you validate someone else there is a greater likelihood they will validate you in return. If you are one to always spread joy and positivity to others, keep it up! But, at least ask yourself if somewhere underneath that is an unconscious need to be validated in return.


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43 responses to How to Avoid the Validation Trap

  1. Wendy says:

    Oh yes – can’t deny this one! I’ve spent years in an ‘abusive relationship’ with work – excessive hours to hit ridiculous deadlines and never saying ‘no’ and I realise now it definitely relates back to the childhood need to receive ‘validation’… I’ve seen the light “yee haa” x

    Liked by 7 people

  2. Paul Roberts Anernathy says:

    Amen. The, my desire, need for validation is so pervasive, verily, inherently rooted in my psyche that it oft is difficult to detect how much of it drives my actions towards others. At least for me, it’s impossible to know in any instant moment that the prime mover of my acknowledgement and support of another, whether in rejoicing with another in triumph or sympathizing with another in sorrow (or anything in between in the day to day given and received exchanges of greeting one to another) is my sense of her/his need or mine. For no matter the case, I always see you, others, the world through my eyes, my experience, sense of history and memory, etc., and it’s the “my” factor that makes me suspect of the clarity of my vision. Nevertheless, this post, for me, is extraordinarily helpful as a necessary reminder of what’s at stake in any human encounter. Thanks!

    Liked by 5 people

  3. I appreciate this post greatly, both for its goodly reminder of an inherent aspect of my behavior and for its provoking an immediate reflection. I’m not sure or perhaps I’m more sure than not that I can’t tell how much of my affirming behavior towards others is motivated by my desire, need for validation or by my earnest effort to discern the desires, needs of another. It’s the “my” factor – that I always see you, others, the world through the eyes of my experience, sense of history, wealth of memory, perception of reality – that leaves me suspect of the accuracy of my assessment of whose desire, need is being served by my actions. Nevertheless, again, a great post, for it reminds me, bringing to ready, renewed attention a constant element of my relating to and with others. Thanks.

    Liked by 5 people

  4. timewithlyme says:

    And yet, we all are validated one way or another, whether we are seeking it or not… isn’t that the rub? We can’t be truly perfect and expect that all of our good words and works will go unnoticed. Thinking positive thoughts about yourself and doing well for other simply for your own self-worth could also lead to ill-derived thoughts of grandeur and not accepting of other people’s ideas or feelings, or even worse, one’s own faults or downfalls. I think validation in conjunction with constructive conversations is a better way to live your life. Doing you best, being willing to agree to disagree, and working towards a life that values ideas to promote positive growth and relationships would be more beneficial than simply going around praising everyone and yourself. Great post!

    Liked by 7 people

  5. I just gave a lecture yesterday afternoon and I started with the question, list your top three loves. Then I ask the audience if they made the cut? No one put themselves in the top three! There was a loud gasp from everyone in attendance when they realized that we generally don’t take take loving ourselves as seriously as we should. Thanks for spreading this message as we all need to take time to self evaluate and heal in order to reach our souls potential.

    Liked by 6 people

  6. thesumoflifeisthetotal says:

    I recently read a quote: Never explain yourself. Your friends don’t need it and your enemies won’t believe it.
    That should be my daily mantra!

    Liked by 5 people

  7. thirtynwordy says:

    Valuable post, thank you. I certainly agree with planning activities with others that don’t involve phones and social media! It’s sad how much time we devote to these things without even noticing.

    Liked by 5 people

  8. Thanks Eric, we do have to learn to accept ourselves and that we have value. Like you say many of use do not have the fortune of having parents who validated our existence by that gave us praise for the little thing in life which all added up to the bigger picture. I personally experienced this and I would say in many ways it broke my will power and held me back. Great post Eric.

    Liked by 4 people

  9. sunflower says:

    I’m addicted to your blog! This was a fantastic article and it hit home so much as I’m in the process of writing an article about my lack of self esteem…
    I almost choked up saying that sentence out loud. I def still get the feeling of some people in my life that I’m only worthy if I achieve things. Keep writing such amazing stuff!
    Rebecca

    Liked by 4 people

  10. waitsixweeks says:

    Great post! I think even in a sincere effort to validate another because you think they don’t see the greatness of themselves, is a small room in the back of your mind that should they recognize their own good, maybe they will recognize mine. What is the way out of this trap!?

    Liked by 3 people

  11. Brenda says:

    I just discovered your blog through Nikki from ‘A Kinder Way’. I’ve been reading through a few of your posts. Each post is a breath of fresh air. I’m compelled to stop and comment on this one due to the point that you make in #1. When I first started writing, I was unsure of myself and counted on external validation to reassure me. Fortunately, my sisters and mother stuck with me through the process. At some point, I stopped worrying about my worth as a writer, and just wrote for the love of writing. I also love the introductory quote and the points you make in #4 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  12. emilypageart says:

    Interestingly, my parents were the first kind you described. They were amazingly supportive and loving, but even that isn’t enough to keep me from needing constant validation from the rest of the world. I’m finding, too, that now that my dad, who was my most vocal cheer leader is gone, I’m seeking external validation that much more. Having that kind of love can be just as “damaging” because it sets up unrealistic expectations of how the rest of the world should value you. So it’s not really our parents’ fault either way. We’re all just hard wired to need it, I think. And in the age of celebrity and reality TV, it sets up even worse expectations that we are each unique and perfect and should be rewarded even when our behavior is atrocious. We are all worthy of love without achievement, but we should all earn the love by at least attempting to be good people.

    Liked by 4 people

  13. Walter says:

    Awesome post. I need a lot of validation in a very narrow field: “Love” and don’t seem to be able to dig out where this comes from! Any tips? I know what made me feel worthless and I mostly don’t feel like that anymore but the feeling of being abandoned when not validated by the loved one comes and comes and comes and comes…

    Liked by 3 people

  14. Keith Haney says:

    What a great blog Eric. The validation trap is a tempting one. It is so easy to find self-worth in the opinions of others. Discovering the deeper need is a great place to start. Thanks.

    Liked by 3 people

  15. Rob says:

    This write resonated with me as I go through this residential treatment center for addiction. Your line:

    “We are most likely going to be caught in the validation trap when thinking we are not vulnerable to it”

    has implications for relapsing as well, as I am understanding it. Many of the residents here have been to treatment before and describe this “no way, not” me mentality and think they can pick up and control it. Very well written and apropos for any human being.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Margarita says:

    I would add to that, Eric, recognize and accept the validation you are receiving. It often doesn’t look like the validation we’ve imagined we’d like to receive. Expand your horizons. Welcome validation in all its forms. It helps you appreciate and validate yourself in ways you never imagined!

    Merry Christmas, my friend! 😉 xoM

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Ipuna Black says:

    I love this post! I completely agree on many of your points. My favorite is limit your social media time. It can be time consuming. It is a good thing in doses :).

    Liked by 2 people

  18. Stardrifting says:

    I like the grounded approach to this ongoing subject of Validation. I had to laugh at myself when I realized that the work that goes into validating ourselves is much like marketing a product. Great article – It really got the juices flowing this morning.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. Good old social media! I was discussing this with a friend recently! Addictions and narcissism caused by the body’s reward system. Getting that hit of dopamine from ‘likes’ and such. Really nice post, thank you! xx

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Clicking for Cash from Home says:

    Excellent blog! Especially like #3. I know people who post endless selfies on their social media of themselves to get constant validation from people. These people are narcissists and get upset when people aren’t in awe of them. These are also the people who need love, peace, and calm channeled into their hearts from the spiritual universe.

    Liked by 1 person

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