“Does this look good on me?”
“Do I look fat?”
“Why does she hate me? What could I do to make her like me?”
All these questions tend to run through our minds or we voice them out to the people closest to us.
But why is this? Why do people have the need to be validated? When we make life choices — some as small as deciding whether to buy red Christian Louboutin pumps or comfy beige Toms — there is a tendency to consult others and concern ourselves with what others think of us or our decisions. But is this necessary?
Let’s explore this, shall we?
As social creatures, people tend to get together in groups. This is highly exemplified in many T.V. sitcoms (i.e. The Big Bang Theory, Friends, etc.). In the realm of social sciences, the proper term for this is The Social Group, which is generally defined as a group of two or more people who consistently interact with one another — in collective unity — due to a range of varying factors, some of which are similar interests, characteristics, values, social backgrounds, and familial ties. The individuals who belong in a group also acknowledge themselves to be a part of an identified group.
Social groups usually come in different shapes and sizes — the optimal size determined to be three, according to Turkish-American social psychologist Muzafer Sherif — and can even include a whole society as one large social group.
Within a social group, there tends to be a common goal among the members, functioning roles taken up by each person in the group (recognized or not), established status relationships, and accepted norms.
Validation then comes into play. Belonging in a group, there is a need to synchronize effectively so that the social group can benefit as a whole through social cohesion. To do so, there is a need to feel validated in what one does as this contributes to verifying our positive feelings regarding ourselves.
This can be quite detrimental as the line between needing approval from others and asking for opinions and suggestions objectively to make up one’s mind can become quite hazy. Becoming a slave to validation is a sign of low self-esteem and lack of a healthy ego.
Social networking sites, such as Facebook, unintentionally feeds off this need for validation, what with the existence of the “Like” button. People try to stack as many “Likes” as they can for their posts and unnecessarily worry when their posts do not get the amount of attention they need them to have — a phenomenon that has sprouted many a comedic spoofs all over the internet, mostly in the form of memes such as the one below.
Relying heavily on what people perceive of you and constantly seeking approval is definitely not healthy and needs remedying. The first step is to accept yourself as you are and realize that your decisions do not necessarily need the approval of everyone in your life (it certainly is not a life or death situation if someone were to disapprove of someone’s decisions. Melodrama not necessary.).
Sure, hearing other people’s perspectives is always highly recommended when making decisions — especially when a decision that needs to be made will affect others — but basing decisions on what others think and want won’t help oneself. Considering others’ perspectives, yes, but not blindly following whatever they say for their approval.
Well, that really is quite enough, I think. I will now leave you with this meme.