Internal vs External Validation
Quick Summary: Internal validation and external validation are different ways of receiving affirmation. While both have a role, excess reliance on external validation creates a challenge, as our sense of self-worth becomes dependent on the opinions of others.
Where do you look to feel good about yourself, to feel validated? Do you look to your friends? Family? Co-workers? Or do you look internally, to yourself? Do you have a strong sense of self, and others’ criticism and praise means little to you, or do tend to need others’ feedback as validation for yourself or your ideas?
Validation can be classified into two main categories: internal validation and external validation. Internal validation is the process of confirming one’s beliefs and actions by oneself, while external validation involves seeking confirmation from others. Both forms of validation are important, but it’s essential to understand the inherent traps of seeking excessive external validation.
The desire for external validation is a part of human nature. From a young age, we seek approval and validation from our parents, teachers, peers, and society as a whole. The problem arises when we become heavily dependent on external validation, and our self-worth becomes tied to others’ opinions of us. When our self our sense of self is dependent on the opinions of others, it can swing wildly depending on the actions or comments of others– not a great way to live. Needing external validation can lead to a vicious cycle of seeking more and more approval from others to feel good about ourselves; however, this rarely leaves us feeling full, and instead, we continue to thirst for more.
One of the main traps of seeking external validation is that it can be a fleeting and unreliable source of happiness. When we rely too heavily on external validation, we give others the power to determine our self-worth and mood. This can lead to a constant need for validation and an inability to feel good about ourselves without it.
Warren Buffet once famously said, “You’ve got to be your own drummer.” He has had success in business by trusting his own sense of what is right and important, and not letting the opinions of others sway his thinking. It’s essential to have confidence in our own abilities and trust our judgment, rather than constantly seeking validation from others.
Building self-esteem and self-worth decreases our need for external validation. When we have a strong sense of self, we are less swayed by the comments of others. This can be achieved through a variety of methods, such as practicing self-care, setting and achieving goals, and surrounding ourselves with positive people who support and uplift us. We can also work on developing a growth mindset, which reframes challenges and failures as opportunities for growth and learning.
Intrinsic motivation refers to the drive to do something for the inherent satisfaction of it, rather than for external rewards such as money, fame, or recognition. When we focus on intrinsic motivation, we are more likely to feel fulfilled and satisfied with our achievements, regardless of external validation. Focusing on intrinsic motivation also decreases our need for others’ approval of what we are doing.
While seeking external validation is natural and necessary to some extent, it’s crucial to be aware of the traps inherent in relying too heavily on it. By focusing on building self-esteem and self-worth, developing a growth mindset, and focusing on intrinsic motivation, we can reduce our dependence on external validation and find fulfillment and satisfaction in our lives. As Warren Buffet noted, we must be our own drummer and rely on ourselves for validation, rather than constantly seeking approval and reassurance from others.
-Dr. Justin