How to stop seeking and feeling validated by the gaze of the other:
1. Detach from social media narratives
Stop trying to piece together an image of other people’s lives from their curated social media feeds. Once you stop this practice, you’ll let go of the expectation that other people do that with you. This removes the layer of observation that we anticipate when we post something on social media. We stop worrying about how other people will receive the image we project, and as a result we stop seeking validation from the feedback they give.
2. Observe Ego instead of engaging with it
Notice when your Ego tries to construct a story about ‘who you are’ based off your past experiences, thoughts and feelings. Instead of buying into this story just watch it unfold. Don’t identify. When you stop fuelling the Ego’s need to assert it’s own presence you’ll stop using other people as an Ego-legitimising force. The smaller (or less powerful) the Ego, the smaller the desire for validation.
3. Stop trying to stop trying to seek validation
It’s a natural evolutionary goal for human beings to want to feel validated. Life is a confusing, complex thing and it’s only natural that sometimes we’ll want to look to others to gauge how well we’re doing. There’s nothing wrong with this. It becomes destructive, however, when we start relying on this to feel as though we’re on the right path, doing the right thing. So if the desire arises, allow it to be there. Don’t lean into it, don’t push it away – this resistance will only increase the tension and make the feeling stronger. Observe how you naturally react when you’re thrust into the gaze of others. There’s no right or wrong way to behave because we can’t control our instinctive responses. But we can control how we react to our reactions. Choose to be compassionate to yourself. (**For more on this see my post and Doing and Being**)
4. Acknowledge that external validation will never provide internal contentment
At the end of the day, any sort of validation extrinsic from yourself will never leave you feeling completely whole. Validation from others only works because we use it to reinforce our own internal conceptions of success. But there is nothing inherently good about approval from others. It’s nobody’s job but yours to try and feel secure in yourself. This is the condition of our lives. We can only ever know ourselves, and we can only ever be ourselves. And even though we all struggle with this, we’ll never be able to fully grasp how other people deal with it. It’s frustrating, but it’s something we must figure out for ourselves. We must learn how to become self-validating and self-legitimising individuals. It is only through this process of becoming fully self-dependent that we can actualise as human beings.