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The Hidden Costs of Seeking Approval: Nurturing Authenticity in a Validation-Obsessed World

In our interconnected world, it's no surprise that many of us seek validation from others.

Whether it's the number of likes on a social media post or seeking approval from peers, external validation has become deeply ingrained in our daily lives.

However, it's important to recognize the dangers associated with this habit.

Photo Credit: Cottonbro Studio

In this blog post, we will explore the pitfalls of seeking external validation and shed light on the crucial distinction between feedback as a gift and external validation as a purpose or end goal.

The Desire for External Validation

The desire for external validation often stems from a longing to be accepted and valued by others. We seek reassurance that we are on the right track, that our choices are validated, and that we are worthy of admiration.

While it's natural to desire recognition, relying solely on external validation can lead us down a treacherous path.

Shifting Focus from Internal to External

When our primary motivation becomes seeking validation from others, we risk losing touch with our own values, beliefs, and passions. Our focus shifts from our internal compass to external opinions, and we become susceptible to conforming to societal expectations. This can stifle our authenticity and hinder personal growth.

Fragile Self-Esteem and Emotional Rollercoaster

Placing our self-worth solely in the hands of others is like building a house on shaky ground. Relying on external validation creates a fragile sense of self-esteem because it is dependent on the ever-changing opinions of others. This emotional rollercoaster can lead to anxiety, self-doubt, and an unending need for approval, which ultimately hinders our ability to find genuine happiness.

Sacrificing Personal Growth and Creativity

Seeking external validation often tempts us to play it safe, conforming to what we believe others want or expect from us. We may suppress our authentic ideas, dreams, and creativity to fit within the narrow confines of societal acceptance. This stifles personal growth and prevents us from reaching our full potential.

Feedback as a Gift: Honing Authenticity

While external validation can be harmful, feedback, when approached differently, can be a valuable tool for personal and professional growth.

Feedback, when given constructively and with genuine intent, provides us with an outside perspective, allowing us to learn and improve.

Differentiating Feedback from Validation

Feedback is rooted in objectivity, offering insights, suggestions, and criticism aimed at helping us refine our skills or perspectives. It is a gift that presents an opportunity for growth and self-improvement.

On the other hand, external validation seeks approval, acknowledgment, and affirmation, without necessarily contributing to personal development.

Cultivating a Growth Mindset

By embracing feedback with a growth mindset, we shift our perspective. We view criticism as an opportunity for growth rather than a personal attack.

This mindset empowers us to make objective assessments of our abilities, embrace continuous learning, and adapt to new challenges. We become self-motivated, relying on our own intrinsic values and goals to measure our success.

Embracing Authenticity and Inner Fulfillment

When we stop seeking external validation, we open the door to living authentically. We gain the freedom to explore our passions, take risks, and embrace our uniqueness.

Instead of seeking approval from others, we find fulfillment in aligning our actions with our core values and pursuing personal growth for the sake of our own well-being.

Activity: The Self Discovery Treasure Map - Exploring Your Authentic Self

In today's fast-paced and competitive work environment, it's easy to find ourselves conforming to societal norms and seeking external validation. However, the real path to fulfillment lies in embracing our authenticity.

When we align our actions with our core values and passions, we unlock the door to genuine self-discovery and inner contentment. Here'a powerful tool to help you get started!

Step 1: Self-Reflection

Find a quiet corner or a serene spot where you can tune out distractions and connect with your thoughts. Take a deep breath and ponder over your core values, passions, and strengths. Use a notebook or journal to jot down your thoughts and feelings.

Step 2: Authenticity Map

With your self-reflection as a foundation, it's time to visualize your journey on the "Authenticity Map." Equip yourself with colorful sticky notes, with each hue representing a unique aspect of your authentic self. Allocate different colors to your core values, passions, strengths, and personal goals. Arrange them thoughtfully on a large surface, creating a map that encapsulates the essence of your true identity.

Step 3: Embracing Vulnerability

Acknowledge areas in the workplace where you might hesitate to show your authentic self. Whether it's expressing your creative ideas, speaking up in meetings, or admitting your uncertainties, recognize these aspects and jot them down on a separate sticky note. Embrace vulnerability not as a weakness but as a powerful testament to your courage.

Step 4: Scavenger Hunt - Authentic Actions

To boost confidence and self-worth, write down positive affirmations that remind you of you uniqueness and worthiness. Say these affirmations aloud daily, especially before going to work. Click here to learn how to create your own transformative affirmations!

Step 6: Treasure Trove of Support

Embracing authenticity doesn't mean going it alone. Seek support from like-minded colleagues or friends. Identify at least one person you trust and can confide in about your journey towards authenticity.

Step 7: Weekly Reflection

Set a time to reflect on your progress each week. Revisit your journal entries, the authenticity map, and assess how you've been embracing authenticity in their workplace interactions.

Step 8: Celebrate Progress

Lastly, celebrate every step towards embracing authenticity. Whether it's a small achievement or a significant breakthrough, acknowledge and reward yourself for your efforts.

List at least five actions you can take in your workplace that align with your authenticity. Let your heart guide you as you pen down acts that resonate with your core values and passions. Whether it's supporting a colleague, initiating a project close to your heart, or expressing gratitude to your team, each action becomes a treasure in your quest for authenticity.

Activity Wrap-Up

As you complete the activity, witness the transformation unfold. Your map serves as a compass, guiding you towards living a more authentic life at work and beyond.

Remember, this journey is not about perfection but progress. Embrace the growth and evolution that come with authenticity. Trust in yourself, and let your treasure map light the way to a life of fulfillment and genuine self-discovery.


Seeking external validation can be a slippery slope, leading to the erosion of our self-worth, stifling our authenticity, and hindering personal growth.

However, by understanding the crucial distinction between feedback as a gift and external validation as an end goal, we can reclaim our power


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