In my personal and professional life, I have met and observed many people who are desperately trying to get approval and acceptance from others, who never feel good enough, and who are terrified of social rejection. For many, hurt and invalidation starts very early and continues throughout their life in one form or another. As a result, many people learn that their fundamental sense of self-esteem and self-worth comes not from within but from others, and so they constantly seek other peoples approval or attention. When you are a small child whose whole existence and well-being depends on others, rejection actually equals existential death. And since we are constantly hurt, invalidated, and rejected in many overt and highly subtle ways as children, a lot of us grow up into wounded and self-less adults whose self-perception is skewed or blurry. If we never explore or even recognize this phenomenon, we are doomed to be dependent on other peoples opinions, judgments, and perceptions of uswhich makes us vulnerable to being manipulated, and potentially being manipulative ourselves.
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Approval is like a killer drug. It becomes addictive and you quickly develop a need for more. When you have a need for approval you value the beliefs, opinions and needs of others above your own. Their opinion of your is far more important to you than your own view of yourself. Receiving disapproval becomes a painful experience. Your entire decision making processes are eventually taken over by your need for the approval of others.
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As I progress into my young adult life, and further, into my womanhood, I find myself more and more aware of the need to be validated in my every day, whether in the workplace, academically or socially. I can only speak from personal experience, but hopefully by writing this I can begin to uncover the truths of my experiences. What I know is that, through various conversations I have had with fellow women, the feeling of needing to be validated is not a singular experience. Seeking validation in men, and not finding what it is I expect or think I want and need, can be disparaging when trying to cultivate a fulfilled and empowered self. I have always felt this strong sense of competition growing up.