February 2, 2022

How to Stop Needing Validation

I'm Melissa
I'm a Career and Leadership Coach for Women in Pharma/Biotech. I've been where you are, and I help you create the career you want without working more hours or settling for good enough.
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You’re a high achiever and you want your effort to speak for itself.  You know you’re a great asset, so why do you want others to validate you and your work?

When you reach a milestone, accomplish a big deliverable, or crush that presentation, it’s not that you need a standing ovation, but you want acknowledgement of your contributions.

If you don’t get it, you start to question yourself and if you’re really valued.

That hurts you and can hurt your performance without you even knowing it.

In this episode, I’m sharing with you how to stop needing external validation once and for all.

What You’ll Learn

Why you seek the validation, where it comes from, and the science behind it.

How this behavior can unknowingly hold you back in your career

3 steps to overcome the need for validation once and for all

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Welcome to Navigating Your Career, the only podcast that blends personal development, professional skills, and psychology to help you get happy at work and live the life you want. If you want to stop feeling stuck and start feeling better, this is the place for you. I’m your host, Melissa Lawrence. Let’s get started.

Welcome to another episode of Navigating Your Career. This week is such a hot topic. We are going to talk about the need for external validation, the need for other people to acknowledge your work or contributions. But before we dive in, I want to take a moment to celebrate with you. So you probably heard.

I launched a new program, Career Path Navigator, just a few weeks ago and I’ve talked about it on the podcast. I’ve talked about it on my social media. You’ve been along with me for the ride, and some of you have made that move to the program and I’m now coaching you and helping you discover what path to take in your career. And it has just been so fun and rewarding for everyone involved. So today I just want to give a shout out to the newest members of Career Path Navigator for deciding that they want to be the best version of themselves while excelling in their career and find that perfect fit for them.

I can’t wait to see what you all discover and do. We’ve already covered so much and it’s just such a joy to see your wins in progress. So over the holidays, my children were with their dad this year. And so Ellen, my wife, and I had a lot of downtime due to Cobid. We didn’t travel and so we did the Marie condoing where you get everything organized in your house and go through your old clothes.

And I organized my dresser. So when I go get my workout clothes, I can actually really quickly in the dark navigate my pants versus my tops and all of those things. Then I got to the point where there wasn’t anything else to do. I feel like I wanted all this time to relax and catch up on the TV and do the organizing. And I did all of that.

And then I thought, oh my gosh, I don’t have anything to watch on TV. And that’s the worst, right? Like you dedicate the time to chill and relax and then you don’t have anything you feel like doing, which is not a real life problem. This is something I experienced over those ten or so days that I was away from work. So this is really ridiculous.

But I pulled people on Instagram and asked them, what’s the next Binge worthy show? And by vote, the one that people said was Yellowstone. Are you watching this? I think it’s on Paramount Plus or Peacock, but it is so good and I’m not a Western Kevin Costner type person when I’m running to that type of programming. And truth be told, I heard about this a while ago and watched a trailer and I was like, I really don’t think that this is for me, but when I didn’t have anything else, let me just give it another try.

And I got really sucked in to the storyline, and it might be the psychologist in me. If you watch it, you know what I mean? There’s a lot of complex relationships and personal struggles that the characters in the show are going through. So if you haven’t checked it out, you might like it. If you give it a try, send me a message on social media.

Let me know that you gave it a try, or if you have another recommendation that you think that I should check out. But if you watch this, if you watch Yellowstone, you know it’s connected to today’s topic validation, because all of these characters in their personal and professional lives are all searching for this validation too. They want to feel valued and loved and worthy and appreciated. And they want to know that the people in their lives, like in the show, it’s the father really, that they are seeing them and valuing them regardless of what they’re bringing to the table, but also an appreciation of what they’re bringing to the table. So let’s dig into this episode.

You work hard and you just want your effort and contribution to speak for itself. You know, you’re a high achiever. In fact, you probably think that you know the best way to do things a lot of the time. It’s okay. You might hear that and be like, well, no, I take other people’s opinions.

Or you might think, yes, that’s me. But deep down, you know that you have an opinion on the right or best way to do things. But you still find yourself seeking validation from your boss and your colleagues. And you might not want public recognition, but you want them to know what you contributed. And you want to be known as the expert.

You want to be promoted without fighting for it and recognized as the person to go to in your area of expertise. I get it. This is something a lot of my clients struggle with. When your need for validation is strong, you can find yourself not speaking up for a couple of reasons. One is that you’re worried about what other people might think of you.

You tie your value to your title, to the recognition, to the visibility and opportunity that you’re given. It becomes more difficult to advocate for yourself because you worry about the conflict and the perception that other people might have for you. It’s also kind of a pride issue, right? Like, you want your work to stand on its own. You want to be validated, you want to get that recognition, but you don’t want to have to ask for it.

The other reason you might not speak up when you have a desire for validation is you become resentful. And this isn’t even on purpose. You just work so hard and have such good ideas. And when you aren’t recognized, or worse, other people are given credit for your work or recognized for less than the contribution that you gave. You start to wonder, why bother?

And it can make you more and more frustrated and eat away at your self worth. So then what happens is you stop speaking up as much. You might even go as far as to think to yourself, let them do that, or try that without you letting them know where you see there being a problem just to teach them a lesson. But here’s the thing. It is natural as human beings to want to belong, to feel heard and valued.

For some, you receive this through validation. And that need for validation is likely coming from a need that was not met earlier in your life. There was probably a time that you didn’t get the love or care that you needed or desired. So naturally, this is human behavior. You shift your behavior or learn how to cope and then would get the love that you wanted or the care that you wanted.

And this creates a signal to your brain that when you do X, you get Y. So this has been repeated for you, and now you’re a high achiever. You give your work your all. On some levels, it probably defines you and you want to be recognized and acknowledged for it. The need to belong and be accepted will always be there.

But if you find yourself relying on external validation to the extent that you beat yourself up, have a hard time advocating for yourself overthink and worry about what others think of you can’t feel good about yourself or your accomplishments without others acknowledging them. Well, a consequence of a heavy focus on external validation is you can lose yourself. You can end up changing your behaviors, your beliefs and your values to fit the mold of your boss, your colleagues or loved ones. And this can be a hard pattern to break. Like I said, your brain has some wired pathways that can confuse your thinking and keep you in this cycle.

Because at some point in your life you’ve learned to behave in a certain way and you’ve gotten a positive reward. Your brain is signaling that. And so you keep going back for more. But when you’re able to take action for you, not for others, and feel proud of yourself without needing that good job, you not only feel better, but you get better results in your life. You take consistent action.

Instead of giving up because you weren’t acknowledged, you stay true to yourself and speak up for yourself. You feel good about the contributions that you make. You have peace. You’re able to accept compliments better and not dismiss them. Because what is interesting is people that need validation are often the same people that dismiss their accomplishments as not good enough or could have been better.

Now, is this you? Are you someone that somebody tells you that you’re amazing and or you knocked a presentation out of the park and then you think, But I messed up that one part, or I didn’t say this part the way that I wanted to, or my slides weren’t as polished as I wanted them to be. So you might accept it. But that’s the kind of inner monologue that you’re having with yourself. So listen, we can change these thought patterns.

The common thread here is that your thoughts are guiding your feelings and behaviors. Your thoughts are, on some level, in your control. Now, I’m going to share three strategies that you can use to practice giving yourself validation and removing that tie of your worth to others opinions. The first one, this need, is likely coming from something in your past, like I said. So build awareness of it, acknowledge it, and practice using your own standard to define what good it looks like.

Get to know yourself and understand the why behind your thoughts and behaviors. Some questions you can ask are, what are your values? How do you define success? Where does this need for external validation come from? If you found the cure for cancer and no one credited you, how would you feel?

Would the cure be any less amazing? You would know that you found the cure and that you help millions of people. So what would the validation tell you about yourself that you already don’t believe? Right? Because if you had found that cure, that would probably be enough for you.

So there’s a gap somewhere where you’re wanting this acknowledgement, and it might be rooted in the people you want the validation from are triggering you in some way. They might remind you of someone that you needed that love from in an earlier part of your life and you didn’t get it. It could be a pattern that’s repeating itself. So you have to really dig deep on this, and I understand that it’s not pleasant, right? Because you’re a high achiever, you’re amazing at what you do.

It should just be the way that it is that you get acknowledged. You don’t want to have to ask for it, and you probably don’t even like that you want it, right? Like, why can’t you just not need it? So then you probably go back into a cycle of trying to dismiss the fact that you need it, but then you’re not getting it, and then you’re not happy and it just is repeating itself, right? So do this work for yourself.

Do this reflection number two, do some mindset work to process where this need and emotion is coming from? As I said, what triggers the need? Are there specific situations that you’re more likely to feel the need for validation? Are there specific people who created this need for you? How can you process any negative emotional experience and let them go.

Visualization meditation Journal exercises can be really helpful for this. Number three, be kind to yourself. Where do you have shame and how can you show yourself more compassion? How can you celebrate yourself more when something upsets you? Separate the facts from the emotion and try to look at it objectively.

Our brains are so good at creating wild stories that perfectly validate the way that we already think. This is why coaching is so powerful, because you don’t see that on your own. When you have someone who has the expertise that I do and you work with a coach like me, you’re going to work with someone that’s going to be able to see the things that you can’t see that are holding you back. So if you believe you’re not good enough, even if that’s a buried thought, you don’t know you’re thinking. You’ll easily find evidence that that’s true.

You’ll easily see the negative. You’ll easily see the ways that you’re not being acknowledged or validated. If you believe you have just the right amount of recognition, you’ll see where you’re recognized. So if you go into work next Monday and you say this week I’m going to focus on looking for all of the ways that I am acknowledged or appreciated for the work that I do, you will find a lot more opportunities of where that is happening, a lot more evidence for that than you would if you keep thinking and focusing on you not having enough recognition or validation. So knowing this, think about what you can do differently or try.

And some days are going to be harder than others to practice these strategies. But there are strategies to practice. They take practice. You’ve likely been having this need or this void for many years or your whole life. So it’s not going to take just one Journal exercise, one focus of looking at where you’re contributing to override everything.

It’s going to take practice. But every time you practice these strategies and speak up for yourself, you’re telling your brain that you are important. And every time that you silence yourself, you’re reinforcing the negative thought patterns. So give yourself compassion. You are healing and you are learning a new skill.

Like I said, you’ve been thinking this way for most of your life. So don’t expect it to change overnight. It takes time, but it’s totally doable. You can totally change this about yourself. You can change this pattern that you have and feel more fulfilled just as you are, and see the positive and see where you’re contributing and being acknowledged and valued and appreciated.

And you can make changes where the environment that you’re in is not aligned with the values that you have. Because that could also be something going on. Because this isn’t about not getting recognition and just dealing or settling. That’s not what I’m saying at all. I’m saying if this is something that you’re always struggling with.

If you’re always needing that validation, that good job. To feel like you did a good job then this is work that you should do. All right. That is all for this week’s episode. I hope you have an amazing week thank you so much for listening to today’s episode.

I truly hope you enjoyed it if this episode resonated with you or helped you in any way, please share it on your social media and tag me I love seeing what you’re up to. Also please make sure to subscribe and leave a review and until next time have fun navigating your career knowing the life you want is totally possible.

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No longer settles for “good enough”

Hi, I’m Melissa.

Career & Leadership Coach for Women in Pharma/Biotech

I'm a former Talent & Development leader in Pharma/Biotech turned CEO and Certified Professional Career & Life Coach. I also host the podcast, Your Worthy Career.

I've been where you are, and I help you create the career you want without working more hours or settling for good enough.

I'm leading a movement of women in the industry who are figuring out exactly what they want and shattering the glass ceiling. The very real ceiling in the industry, but also the one that we impose on ourselves. 

So long, imposter syndrome and overthinking. It's time to step into the impact and life you're worthy of having.

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