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Breaking Free from the Validation Trap

How to Take Back your Power by Believing in Yourself

Let’s talk validation – and let’s be honest.

It feels great being validated by others. It can give us reassurance that we’re on the right track and we’ve made the right decisions. It builds us up, gives us confidence, right?

Well, there’s a major flaw in it.

When we rely on others to validate us, we give away all of our power. We nervously await feedback, we are stuck in limbo, waiting to see if our worth is reinforced, or torn apart. When we do this, we are literally letting someone or something else define our worth. When we depend on people to build us up, those same people have all the power to break us down.

We end up gambling our worth away, when in reality, the only person who can define our worth, is us.

I used to seek validation from anywhere and anyone except myself. When I got it, I was on a high. When I didn’t, it was the lowest of lows. I would be overcome with feelings of powerlessness, shame, and judgement. I felt I was not enough, and that I could never be enough.

  • I needed my dad to approve of and support decisions I was making when it came to my career.
  • I needed my boss to praise me to reaffirm I was good enough at my job.
  • I needed “likes” on social media to prove to myself that people like me and that what I posted was good enough.

In literally everything I was doing, I would not trust myself enough to just be content with my decisions and actions. I always needed someone else to validate me. To define my worth. To tell me I was good enough.

Stop and think about this for a second. This is absurd. It feels like being trapped. It feels so small. So worthless.

Let’s dig into my personal examples a bit further so I can show you just how ridiculous this really is.

  • I needed my dad to approve of and support decisions I was making when it came to my career.
    • I was the one working. I was the one who was unhappy. I was a grown woman, supporting myself, completely independent. It’s not like I was relying on my dad to support me. So, if he doesn’t support my career choices, what am I going to do? Stay in a job that doesn’t fulfill me for all of eternity so that he is happy? I don’t think so.
  • I needed my boss to praise me to reaffirm I was good enough at my job.
    • This one is even sillier. I didn’t even like what I was doing. Why on earth does it matter if my boss thinks I’m good enough? It’s not like that will suddenly make me love my job. It’s not like that would have filled the void I was feeling by not living my life purpose. It literally did nothing for me except cause unnecessary anguish.
  • I needed “likes” on social media to prove to myself that people like me and that what I posted was good enough.
    • This one’s a killer. It’s tough living in this day and age with social media. But here’s the thing – no matter how many “likes” I would get, it was never enough. I had to change my perspective and get back in touch with my purpose and original intention. I am here to teach and help people. It doesn’t matter who or how many people like a post. If it reached just one person and made a difference in their day (or life), that purpose was served. Some of the posts I was most upset about not getting likes, I later found were some of the most powerful and impactful to people. Remember, not everyone “likes” every single post they see. It still reaches them.

What I learned by living through this is that when we put our worth in someone else’s hands, we stop ourselves from becoming who we want to be. We hold ourselves back out of fear of rejection. We don’t take risks and everything in our lives is impacted: career, relationships, our own happiness.

I had created a reality where I was paralyzed in everything that I was doing. It’s exhausting!

So, how do we break free from this validation trap?

Here’s what’s worked for me.

  1. Tune in – become aware of when this need for validation is present. The more familiar you are with the patterns and triggers, the more foresight you’ll have, and the more control you will have over it.
  2. Lean into it – what limiting beliefs (likely about yourself) are causing you to seek validation elsewhere? What is the story you’re telling yourself?
  3. Challenge the story – what’s the lie in your current story, in your limiting belief? Once you shine a light on it and allow yourself to look, it’s likely that your story won’t hold up.
  4. Put things into perspective – who is it that you’re seeking validation from? What will their validation do for you? Why do you need it? Why does this person get to tell you whether or not you’re good enough? Do you think they’re exhausting the same amount of energy thinking about you that you are expending thinking about them while willing their validation?
  5. Love yourself – practice this daily. You may feel like a fraud at first. Like you’re lying to yourself. That’s okay! Keep finding ways to be kind to yourself and appreciate yourself, flaws included. At the very least, each morning, start saying to yourself in the mirror, “I am willing to learn to love you”. Don’t stop. Over time, it will become true!

The day you realize that you are the only person that matters and can define your worth, is the day you feel freedom. This is in your control. This is how you take back your power. No one gets to tell you your worth except you.

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