How to validate yourself

17 Ways to Validate Yourself

Everyone needs validation—to feel accepted and understood. However, we shouldn’t rely on others for validation. It’s important to know how to validate ourselves. 

It feels good to be praised, to have your feelings affirmed, to be told you did a good job, and to be appreciated.

It’s normal to want validation from others—your parents, spouse, boss, friends—but some of us seek external validation to an unhealthy level. We rely on others to make us feel good. We doubt our abilities if we’re not explicitly told we’re doing well. We obsessively check our social media posts looking for approval. And we question our worth if others don’t value us.

Relying on external validation can make us anxious or depressed. A lack of self-confidence may cause us to make more errors and have trouble concentrating. And disapproval and criticism are especially painful because we put so much stock into other people’s opinions.

We can’t rely on others to make us feel good. When we do, we allow others to dictate our worth. And we don’t trust our own thoughts, feelings, and judgments; we assume others know more than we do and their opinions matter more. We become needy and ask for validation in ways that turn others off – in ways that scream my self-esteem is lacking and I need you to tell me I’m okay.

Instead, you can learn how to validate yourself. External validation should be in addition to self-validation, not in place of it.

What is self-validation?

Self-validation includes:

  • Encouraging yourself
  • Acknowledging your strengths, successes, progress, and effort
  • Noticing and accepting your feelings
  • Prioritizing your needs
  • Treating yourself with kindness
  • Saying nice things to yourself
  • Accepting your limitations, flaws, and mistakes

Self-criticism, comparing yourself to others, minimizing or denying your needs and feelings, perfectionism, and judging yourself harshly are not validating.

How to validate yourself

Self-validation is a skill that takes practice. It won’t be easy at first. To begin, try to do or say at least one self-validating thing per day (see ideas below). Then, after you’ve got that down, strive for two and so on.

With practice, it will become second-nature to validate yourself. And as you get better at validating yourself, you’ll seek less external validation and you’ll have less tolerance for people invalidating you, too.

4 steps for validating yourself:

1) Notice how you feel and what you need.

Example: I feel angry. I need time alone.

2) Accept your feelings and needs without judgment.

Example: It’s okay to feel angry. Anyone would feel angry in this situation. Taking time alone will help me sort out my feelings. That’s a good thing.

3) Don’t over-identify with your feelings. We want to accept our feelings and also remember that they don’t define us. Notice the subtle, but important, difference when you say I feel angry vs. I am angry or I feel jealous vs. I am jealous. Our feelings are temporary – they come and go and don’t define us.

4) Remember, practice is an important part of learning self-validation!

Examples of Self-Validation

Here are some examples of affirming or validating things you can say to yourself:

  • It’s normal to feel this way.
  • My feelings are valid.
  • I’m proud of myself.
  • This is hard. What do I need to cope or feel better?
  • It’s okay to cry.
  • I’m making progress.
  • I gave it my best effort.
  • I am worthy.
  • Good job!
  • I’m more than my accomplishments or failures.
  • My self-worth isn’t based on other people’s opinions.
  • Everyone makes mistakes.
  • My feelings matter and I will listen to what they’re telling me.
  • I trust my instincts.
  • Not everyone likes me and that’s okay. I like myself.
  • I like ___________ about myself.
Ways to validate yourself

Tip #1 Treat yourself like a friend: If you struggle to come up with an affirming response to your feelings and needs, think about what you’d say to a dear friend who was in the same situation. Try saying the same thing to yourself. It may seem awkward at first, but that’s okay!

Tip #2 Give yourself the love you never got: If you crave or seek validation from a parent who has never been able to accept or affirm you, think about what you’d like them to say to you now or what your younger self needed to hear from them. Write it down and say it to yourself.  It can be healing to repeat this exercise for a variety of feelings and situations.

Self-validation also includes activities such as journaling your feelings, noticing your accomplishments and writing them down, resting when you’re tired or eating when you’re hungry, giving yourself a treat – not because you earned it, but because you care about yourself.

How do you validate yourself? If you have other ideas, please share them in the comments.

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©2019 Sharon Martin, LCSW. All rights reserved.
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Codependency Maze ebook

Learn more about how to change codependent behaviors

Navigating the Codependency Maze provides concrete exercises to help you manage anxiety, detach with love, break through denial, practice healthy communication, and end codependent thinking. It was written by Sharon Martin, a psychotherapist with over 20 years of experience helping people overcome codependency, people-pleasing, and perfectionism and find their way back to themselves. For more info and to view sample pages, click HERE.

17 Ways to Validate Yourself

Sharon Martin, DSW, LCSW is a psychotherapist and author specializing in codependency recovery. For the past 25 years, she’s been helping people-pleasers, perfectionists, and adult children overcome self-doubt and shame, embrace their imperfections, and set boundaries. Dr. Martin writes the popular blog Conquering Codependency for Psychology Today and is the author of The CBT Workbook for Perfectionism and The Better Boundaries Workbook.

11 thoughts on “17 Ways to Validate Yourself”

  1. Thank you so much. I had no idea how to do this and a friends suggested. It was truly mind/heart/soul opening to have it laid out so plainly. I will use your suggestions!

  2. Thank you for this article. This is something I truly struggle with. I champion for others all the time, but can’t do that for myself. I am trying to turn a new leaf.

  3. Thank you. I’m struggling with internal validation because it feels like an external validation consolation prize. I have to figure out how to want it so I can encourage it. It seems a lot like blind faith instead of evidence based. I’ll figure it out sometime.

    1. I know exactly what you mean by this but Self Validation should totally come first (speaking personally) my dating life has been in shambles due to needing my partners to be my 24/7 source of acknowledgment and confidence. Perfectionism has also held me back from chasing my creative career and I just know that with a little more internal spark that both of these things will become smoother.

      I’ve also started taking improv classes which I’ve got to say has helped a lot. Having the permission to get silly and make mistakes is good practice of unconditional self acceptance.

      Hope this antidotal helps!

  4. Thank you so much for this kind of explaination i really appreciate it, so much i cried while reading those kind of words, the first time in my life to experience someone validate my feelings was my Fiancé when he came into my life, i feel that i deserves if i feel angry he always tell me it so okay, just show it, he didn’t stop me.. 💖 and now i want validation too,but i will apply it to my future children. To feel safe and they have more confident and no more insecurities to feel and, ofc not to scared to show what they want and who they are. Or even if they made a mistake. Ouch, 🥺. Made me very while reading it,.. Thank u thank u so much… God bless who made this explanations.ilove you,… So much… Thank you ha..

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