From the time we begin speaking, we seek out feedback from our environment. We look to those we are closest to for recognition, validation, and approval for everything we do. It’s essential to our learning and growth process, but at some point, our desire for feedback overlaps with our desire to feel significant. It becomes no longer enough to just learn, we want to be seen in a certain way, and when we aren’t, we suffer. Many people spend their lives desperately seeking this approval, sometimes at the cost of their own authenticity and happiness.
We all have a desire to know we are important. When we don’t feel significant, our motivation wanes. Some may become depressed, while others go into overdrive trying to prove their significance. On one hand, the desire for significance is a basic human need. On the other hand, the wrong parts of us can become too invested in that need. How do we fulfill our need for achievement and get to our highest level of self-actualization without relying on external validation to make us feel worthwhile?
Here are 5 tips to stop seeking external validation:
1. Know you are significant just by being you.
The wisdom of Kabbalah teaches that we are each a spark of the Divine. Being significant is not only a part of us, it is at our very essence. We often look to other people to make us feel significant and unique when we already are, just by existing, whether or not other people see it.
Accept that you are powerful and unique regardless of what others say or think about you. You are significant because you are a piece of the creative force of the world. That is a truth that will not change regardless of what anybody thinks of you, good or bad. Know that you are simply enough. You are significant, and your responsibility is to go out and share your unique Light with the world.
2. Focus on progress over perfection and effort over results.
When someone completes a great achievement, we tend to praise the accomplishment rather than the hard work that went into it. The same is true for how we treat ourselves. When we don’t reach a goal or complete a project, we often look at ourselves as a failure. Our life’s work is not about reaching a destination but about the continual effort we put in.
What do you praise in others and yourself? Is it the external or internal accomplishments? The result or the effort? No amount of effort is ever a waste of time, and failure does not make you any less significant.
3. Build relationships on mutual appreciation, not validation.
In a healthy relationship, it’s important to be appreciated for who you are. This is not the same thing as validation. When someone appreciates you, they recognize the beautiful and unique soul within you. Appreciation is how we express the way we see each other. Validation, on the other hand, is about looking to another person to make you feel worthy or better about yourself.
A relationship based on validation or lacking mutual appreciation cannot thrive because it is inherently one-sided. Instead of looking for someone who validates you and makes you feel significant, look for someone who recognizes the greatness that you already possess inside.
4. Do the right thing, and it won’t matter what others think of you.
Doing the right thing isn’t always viewed with great support from others. Many historically significant people were not seen as significant in their time. But when you are doing the right thing, the energy you create never disappears. It continues shining into the world long after you are gone.
If you are busy with what people think, it’s a guarantee you are not going to do the right thing. By just following what other people say, you ignore your own purpose. Forget about pleasing others. You will never make everyone happy or be significant in everyone’s eyes. The important thing is to focus on sharing, kindness, and revealing your Light in the world. Ask yourself: Am I living a significant life? Am I investing in true and eternal things, things that are for the benefit of others?
Do the right thing. As long as you do that, it won’t matter what others think of you. Know that the energy you are creating is eternal.
5. Share without an expectation of praise.
How many times do you look around after doing a good deed to see if someone noticed? Or when something goes well, how often do you jump to take credit? Even when we do the right thing, even when we do tremendous actions of sharing, our ego often gets involved. We expect praise or recognition for our good deeds. But to be a spiritual person is to share for the sake of sharing, regardless of how it is viewed by others.
Remember, the reason you helped someone was not to receive praise, but because you are significant, and your soul has this work to do in this world. Giving and receiving praise is not a bad thing, but there is a danger in becoming dependent on it. Accept praise but remember it is not why we share ourselves with others in the world.
External validation feels good in the moment, but it’s not lasting or real. The only true validation we need comes from ourselves, knowing that we are a spark of the Creator and the work that we do to share our Light with the world matters, whether or not other people recognize it. The more you realize how special and important your soul is, the less you will rely on others for validation.