I wrote this in response to a post from David at How to Beast. It’s a great post but I’m going to give it my own slant.
First, I want you to admit that you have a problem.
It’s ok, man. I had this problem myself for many years.
“What’s the problem, bro?” I’ll tell you what it is:
You care too much.
Mainly, you care too much about the opinions of other people. Not only their opinions… but their approval. You know the kind I’m talking about.
I’m talking about that high you get when someone likes your photo on Facebook. Or when they re-tweet your status on Twitter.
This “high” even extends to your personal life, with family and friends.
Here’s the problem: validation is a drug. You’ll never have enough. If you try and “get enough” it can lead to ruined life. You might even…DIE.
I’ll tell you right now – if you want any shot at “success” or “happiness”, you need to get rid of your addiction to this validation ASAP.
By the end of this article, you will:
- Understand why validation is such a powerful “drug” and why you must wean yourself off of it
- Learn why so many people seek validation
- Discover how to undermine the effect validation has on you
If you continue down this path of seeking validation…you will be easily used and manipulated by others, no better than a puppet on a string. You will be at the effect, rather than at the cause.
I don’t want that and I know you don’t either.
Why is validation so alluring?
Everyone wants to be liked. Everyone wants to be accepted. Everyone wants to “fit in” and be “normal”.
It’s alright if you feel this way. It’s human to feel this way. This desire is a remnant from your ancient ancestors.
Your brain releases dopamine every time you do something that will possibly ensure or promote your survival. You get a hit of dopamine when you’re told you did a good job or when you please someone who you perceive as “better” than yourself
Validation is nice. It can be a sign that you’re doing something right!
Social media takes validation to a new level, however. You can get validated by your friends on social media…doing absolutely jack and shit. All those “likes”, comments, and other signs of approval don’t mean anything in the real world.
You will get more feedback from posting a picture flexing your biceps or posting a witty status than you would from real world endeavors. Why would a girl post a video of her twerking on the Internet if she didn’t think it was going to get seen by thousands of people?
No one is around to “like” you helping an elderly woman across the street, yet it’s more important.
This validation gets to a point where it can be detrimental. It can prevent us from taking risks and giving the world new inventions, something we as young men should be doing.
This makes social media a supernormal stimulus.
The validation trap
As you get more and more validation, three things start to happen:
- It turns into a habit
- You want more and more
- You try to “one up” yourself
Desire for validation can turn into a habit. A bad one. And fast.
You see, a lot of people have an “image” to maintain. A mask, rather.
But it’s not an image based on their true self, it’s a false self that they show to the world. This image needs inevitably validation to support it. If that validation runs out, the image crumbles, and soon insanity ensues.
It soon isn’t enough for 50 people to like and comment on your photo. You then need 51. Then 52. You then post something that only gets 6 likes. You are emotionally shattered. You need your next update to be “out of this world”.
So, you’ll attempt to one-up yourself. You post something wittier, something more comical. It can get to the point where you just throw up more and more blatantly outrageous shit, making a complete buffoon and try-hard out of yourself.
That’s only on social media. What’s it like in real life when it comes to family and friends?
If you’re doing something that’s mentally, spiritually, and even physically degrading but you’re egged on by people who’s attention you crave – you’ll keep doing it. These are mainly your family and friends, especially those who are older than you.
If you’re stuck in a job you don’t like, you’ll keep on doing it because your parents think it’s awesome. If you’re in a relationship you don’t like, you will stay in it.
You will live a life that’s not really yours. You’re not running the day is running you. You’re the servant, not the master.
You’re not going to see the larger picture of how there’s much more to your life than appearing a certain way to certain people.
Why people seek validation
If you want to know how to break your addiction to validation, you have to understand why people look for it.
We live in a world where:
- Many people are becoming more and more disconnected from each other despite advances in communication technology
- Many people are becoming more depressed and anxious with each passing year
- Many people lack self-confidence
Everyone wants to be acknowledged on some level. Everyone wants to know deep down inside:
“Yes. I make a difference and I matter.”
People want to be seen.
Don’t believe me? Next time you check out at a store register, pay the cashier a random compliment. Watch them light up. This doubly counts if they’re a girl/woman.
People are so desperate for attention and approval that they will do almost anything for the person who can provide that in spades (one of the cornerstones of being charismatic, by the way).
A double whammy is added when the person didn’t receive a lot of attention from their parents during childhood. They will naturally go and seek it from others.
That’s not good.
The problem with seeking approval from other people
The tastes and sensibilities of people are changing by the day. This is especially true because many people can’t focus on one idea or motif.
You cannot build a solid foundation on something that’s constantly changing.
If you try to gain the favor of other people, you will be forever chasing the wind. You will experience no peace of mind.
You need to realize that your life is in your hands. You have to rise up and take responsibility for your life. No one else will do it for you, no matter how much “entertainment” you give them.You cannot build a solid foundation on something that's constantly changing. Click To Tweet
Breaking the validation addiction
If you want to break the cycle of validation, the cycle of people pleasing, the cycle of just being an all around pushover, it’s important that you do these three things:
1. Establish non-negotiables
You must have guiding principles that govern your life from which you never deviate. What are they?
Are you a man of integrity? A man of self-discipline? A man of execution?
If you don’t know what these principles are or what they stand for, you are a prime sucker for…sucking up.
2. Get some goals
If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.
Anybody can just lead you down any path and you’ll gladly follow along.
These go along with the “non-negotiables”. Goals are a destination. With a clear destination and plans to get there, you won’t need to please anyone or do anything doesn’t correspond to these goals. The opinion of the world won’t fucking matter.
3. Know thyself
This is the hardest one to develop…but the most essential. You need to ask yourself one question:
Who the fuck are you?
Really. Truly. Think back to when you were a young tyke. Who was he before the opinions of the world and self-limiting beliefs got in his way?
Please, take 10-15 minutes and sit in a quite room and think about this. Without knowing this, you’ll just end up following other people.
The final verdict
Am I saying social media is a bad thing? Definitely not. It has helped myself and millions of other people connect to others all over the globe.
Am I saying approval from friends and family is a bad thing? Nope. Having people who have known you for years acknowledge your accomplishments gives you an indescribable feeling.
You just need to understand that social media is a tool. Familial approval is a tool. These can let you know that you may be on the right track towards greater achievement.
You need to understand that validation has a dark side. You need to avoid that dark side.
Lastly, you need to understand that chasing an unrealistic level of it is ultimately a road to nowhere, one that wastes time, wastes life, and ultimately wastes potential.
That’s all I’m saying. You can’t spend your life surrounded by a bunch of yes-men, shielding you from the pain of life. Lots of people spent their entire life riding a high of validation until it all came crashing down leading to their physical or emotional demise.
Have any thoughts about our validation culture? Let me know in the comments.