Photo by Ayo Ogunseinde on Unsplash

People thrive in external validation. There’s nothing wrong with it, but sometimes too much can be detrimental. What is the best way to determine your self-worth?

What motivates you more, hearing someone saying they’re proud of you or feeling proud of yourself?

This is a trap question, given that no answer is wrong. What one deems a more substantial source of validation primarily depends on one’s preference. But what makes it more effective can be founded on psychology and is debatable.

It’s innate for humans to crave validation from others. A single compliment recognizes one’s existence, making them feel seen, heard, and valued. Hearing it from others is what makes any praise feel real. However, it’s important to remember that you shouldn’t rely on external validation to determine your self-worth. Else, this makes it easier to upset, susceptible to exhaustion and dissatisfaction.

Where Should the Voice of Praise Come From?

While external validation is human, this shouldn’t consume your mind. In an environment where achievements weigh significantly, and mistakes are likewise heavily criticized, the strongest form of recognition should come from within. This is how a solid mental condition is fundamentally built.

However, regardless of how easily understandable and insistently repeated this sentiment is, it’s still easier said than done. After all, humans can’t easily separate from their natural tendencies, and seeking acceptance is one of them. To help determine your self-worth, a part of you will actively seek another’s voice to uplift your value, not believing the truth in your tone. People are commonly entrapped in the belief that they must prove themselves in the eyes of others for their worth to be genuine, a misconception that it’s the only means for them to prove their capabilities and values as humans.

In The Streamlined Locomotive, a steam locomotive novel, readers experience the benefits and detriment of external validation. Dependent on his family’s support, the protagonist, Theopolis, tries to prove his value within his lineage. This puts him under heavy mental pressure to perform and meet their expectations – a similar situation people would undergo with external validation.

Theopolis’ situation may be significantly different since what he’s after is riches and his portion of the family wealth. But the pressure he’s put himself in to prove his worth isn’t far from what people experience when seeking others’ compliments and recognition.

Breaking the Cycle and Changing What Can Determine Your Self-Worth

While self-worth can be a subjective concept dependent on what matters for individuals, using external validation to determine your self-worth is ultimately unreliable. You may use your core beliefs, feelings, and emotional well-being to measure how you value and see yourself. But this shouldn’t be reliant on what others feel. After all, how you determine your self-worth influences how you live.

It’s the quality of your life it measures.

Why would you allow other’s opinions to affect it?

By religiously listening to outside opinions and allowing their words to influence your mind and perception of life, you aren’t only welcoming unnecessary beliefs. You’re also allowing others to steer your life, giving them control. Changing can be challenging, but it’s vital.

How can you successfully do it?

Honor Your Feelings and Boundaries

External validation may be beneficial, but once these affirmations become criticisms and insults, what once felt like cloud nine can quickly become a nightmare. Other’s opinions rarely ever matter if you won’t take their words to heart. Whenever you run into someone who feels superior enough to cage your mind by being offensive and disrespectful, don’t allow them to catch you failing.

This means you shouldn’t be consumed by the words they throw at you. Words are merely words until you let them determine your self-worth. Whatever they say about you shouldn’t change how you present yourself. Likewise, it shouldn’t nurture hate in your heart. Once someone disrespects and discredits you, find the right time to step away. Separate yourself from figures that drain you and make you question your worth. There will always be others who can see and appreciate your value.

Not Everyone Wants to Be Impressed

Often, people work hard to impress others even though there’s no need to. It’s easy to put others on a pedestal and believe they value only majestic and mind-blowing things. However, this is rarely ever the case. The right audience will appreciate you for who you are, not for how better you disguise yourself in front of them.

In the long run, changing to fit someone’s preference will only drain you of energy. It won’t be beneficial for you. Not to mention, it’s better to be hated but comfortable in one skin than to be loved knowing you were only pretending. Self-worth is your authentic value. It’s how you see yourself for what truly lies within. It would be ironic if, in seeking other’s compliments, you’re changing your core values.

Being true to yourself is one way to determine your self-worth. Allow what’s within you to shine through and blind those who nitpick and find the worst in you. Find your truth and allow it to speak.

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