As humans, it’s natural to want to seek approval from others. But where it gets problematic is when you give away your power and allow your own voice to get drowned out by others. Inviting others to contribute their input should be a sacred thing because not everyone is qualified, or informed enough, to advise you in a helpful way.
You might be a validation junkie if…
- You make decisions but often feel the need to “run it by” someone else before you can trust it.
- You tend to feel more conflicted after asking for advice, or frequently change your mind depending on who you speak to.
- You often consider whether you’d be able to explain or justify your choices.
- You over-deliver by default, and feel resentful when it is not recognized or praised.
- You find yourself doing “internal PR”: telling slightly different versions of the same story to highlight what that person would approve of, and hiding the parts they wouldn’t.
When we become dependent on others more than we trust ourselves, we tend to focus all our attention on avoiding the pain of “getting it wrong” vs focusing on enjoying the journey and learning from it. Here are some questions to ask yourself before asking for input elsewhere:
What are my own thoughts around this? What would I do if I couldn’t ask anyone for input?
Whenever possible, lead with your own opinions before asking others for theirs. Otherwise, you open yourself up to observations on things you weren’t even questioning in the first place.
Have I sat with this long enough to formulate my own opinion?
If you don’t yet know your stance on something, soliciting others too soon is a recipe for confusion…
How personal is this decision?
The more personal, the less likely anyone can tell you what to do. However, having a trusted person to be a sounding board to help you find your own answer is much more empowering.
Is this person qualified to give you advice?
Do they understand you and your goals, and can they answer with that in mind? Do you trust them? Do they have experience or insights in this specific area? If not, reconsider your source.
Do I really need advice or do I just need a sounding board?
Learning to understand what you need is important because then you can directly ask for it. Leading a conversation with, “I really want to do XYZ this year! How would you approach it?” is very different from “Do you think I should do X, Y or Z?”
Sometimes instead of advice, you just need to speak your thoughts out loud, so that you can eventually find your way by yourself.
And at the end of the day, an opinion is just the product of someone’s life experience, their biases, and their values. Let yourself be guided by your own sense of intuition and trust that it will serve you well.
Mariela De La Mora is an Online Business Mentor and Leadership & Executive Coach. For 15 years, she’s led product launches and grown marketing teams for multi-billion dollar companies and startups from California to London. Now she coaches high-achieving women of color to help them break glass ceilings.