Simply danLrene

Work Your Dream

External Validation vs Internal Validation

I heard the expression “external validation” the other day and thought long and hard about it. External validation means a person needs or wants something outside of themselves to validate that they are good, smart, have done a good job, look good, etc.  I remember teaching school and I had children that every little thing they did as part of their lesson, they had to come up and ask me if it was ok.  They had learned that they needed external validation or approval to do things. I would ask them what they thought of their paper and you could see that they were so unsure of themselves that they could not answer.

Internal validation means that we recognize for ourselves when we have done a good job and are proud of ourselves. We do not need anyone else to do it for us. But, I believe it takes being brought up that way for people to learn it or it is a lesson we learn late in life when the light bulb goes off and we realize that we can choose and see this for ourselves. I was the late in life person that learned that I could validate myself and that was important. With low self-esteem, if we are depending on others to validate us and they are in a bad mood or we have done something to make them mad, they can ruin what little self-esteem that we might have. But, if we have learned to validate ourselves, then we know when we are doing all we can do. We know when we look nice or have done a good job.

I think that unfortunately children are and have been raised to expect external validation. When a child is told that if they make a good grade, they will get a dollar…that is external validation. That dollar was external validation that they did well. They do not learn  how to look at their own tests and say “yes, I did good” or “I did my best but still did not get a good grade” or “No, I did not do my best and made a bad grade”.

Instead of teaching children to be proud of themselves and to recognize in themselves when they have done a good job, when they look nice or pretty, when they have done good on a test, etc…I hear parents bragging that they bribe their children to do well in school, to perform well in extracurricular activities, to clean up their rooms, etc….external validation. And when someone does that, they make children dependent on what others think and on material things to prove they are ok.

It takes a lot of changing your pattern of thinking to learn how to self validate or do internal validation. People get so used to asking someone else “does this outfit look good on me?”  instead of looking in the mirror and saying to themselves “The outfit looks good. Ok, I am ready to go”.  It takes a change of pattern to look at your own work and tell yourself..”wow, I did a great job on that” if you did, or to say “I really did not try very hard. I could have done better”.

Far too often, people can look to social media sites, to others, to family in search of self-worth and approval and when a person does that, what happens when no one is around to give that approval and to tell the person they did a good job?

We have brains, we have eyes and we know when we are putting out all our effort or not.  Do not let others be the judges for us when we are fully capable of looking at what we wear, say, do, etc and knowing if we have done a good job, or that what we have on looks ok, or that we have done the best we can do on a job or test even if it did not get the A and be proud of ourselves.  Let those comments that occasionally come like “hey, you look nice” be something that just confirms what we have already told ourselves. Do not let it be the standard but a compliment to what we know inside.

January 24, 2013 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , ,


  1. YOU look great in those red shoes… can I have a dollar now? hahaha>>> GREAT WORDS TODAY friend!

    Comment by sassy | January 25, 2013 | Reply

  2. Words of value here. Instead of saying to a child, “I am so proud of you!”; say instead, “You must be so proud of yourself!”.

    Comment by Ann | January 25, 2013 | Reply

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