After you break up with your ex, you lose a sense of yourself. You have, for quite some time, been a couple. That identity has defined a large part of who you are.
In a sense, your ex girlfriend or wife had validated who you are. By selecting you as a mate, she approved of your lifestyle, career, looks, and personality.
That validation can be a great feeling. Everything you’ve worked to accomplish in life has been signed off on by someone you really care about. Your purpose as a being on this planet seems to make sense.
Fast forward to the breakup. Now she’s gone. Validation has been stricken from your life and you’re desperate for approval. You seek it from external sources – friends, family, new acquaintances, and even complete strangers.
This is a dangerous proposition and can compromise your true identity as you mold your behavior around what you think others will want to see and hear.
Often times, the symptoms of searching for validation are subtle, so you really have to be self aware to notice when it’s happening. Here are a few instances to be aware of…
Over-rationalizing and defending – Do you find yourself constantly justifying your actions or words when they are called into question? If so, you’re likely trying to hard to validate yourself through conversational debate.
For those that seek validation, insecurity rises to the surface when ideas are challenged or trivialized, and they will desperately explain their thoughts so the other person approves of what they have to say.
Becoming a chameleon – As a defense mechanism, chameleon’s change colors to blend into their surroundings. Humans are guilty of this phenomenon as well, particularly if they are dependent on others for their own personal sense of self worth.
Now, I’m not saying you can’t adapt to any given social situation. Knowing your audience and adjusting your communication styles accordingly is a critical aspect for developing relationships.
But, it can go too far if your external environment is the determining factor to who you are. You don’t need to change your identity purely to “fit in” to your surroundings for fear of not being accepted.
Stretching the truth – Have you ever been in a conversation full of bros where everyone is constantly “one-upping” each other with stories? Maybe it was about the sex tales from all the chicks they hooked up with in college.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about a good hook up story, but sometimes bros will elaborate or stretch the truth to make a story more impactful to position themselves in a positive and respected light amongst friends.
If you find yourself thinking, “wait that was a little different from how it really went down” after recounting a story, validation is a likely driving force behind that white lie.
If you constantly seek approval externally, your own self-worth will be forever be tied to factors outside of your control. You will never be truly free and your unique identity will be compromised for the sake of others.
Instead, you must become secure by practicing self-love. Be proud of exactly who you are and set your own goals that will determine your success. Don’t let others be the judge of that.
Speak with conviction and pride. Don’t tell others what they want to hear for fear of what they will think and find impressive. Let go of seeking validation from others and you will free yourself to be you.
When you make a decision, don’t look around the room for acceptance. Check within yourself to make sure it feels right. That’s all that matters.