As a relationship therapist, I often find my clients feel a sense of responsibility for their partner, or family members’ feelings. My clients feel entangled in the emotions of their loved ones which causes them to develop people pleaser tendencies. They don’t know how to self validate and they try to anticipate, adjust or control their behavior to make their partner happy. They feel making their loved ones happy gives them worth and validation as a person. Even if that role at times involves giving up their own preferences, needs and desire. However, that feeling of worthiness is never sustained and becomes an exhausted pursuit of constantly looking to others to feel good about themselves.
In order to have a sustained feeling of worthiness, understanding how to self validate is important. Especially when it comes to learning how to stop being a people pleaser. In learning how to self-validate, you feel more empowered to show up authentically in your relationship. You also eliminate the need to manage it through people pleasing. Overall, learning this skill improves our emotional and relational well-being.
What is Self Validation
What is self-validation exactly? According to Hall (2014) self-validation “is having the ability to accept your own internal experience, thoughts and feelings.” Learning to self validate is important when it comes to developing a stronger sense of self. It is helps you recognize that having different feelings and thoughts are part of being an individual. When you learn to understand and accept your own feelings, you begin to trust self-more. Through this self-validation process, you are actively reinforcing that you are worthy. Over time, this helps you recognize that you are in charge of establishing your worth. When you develop this understanding, you no longer feel tethered to people pleaser tendencies and can authentically engage in your relationships. This increases your level of differentiation.
Having the ability to self validate also is helpful in how you manage intense emotions and conflict. When you feel you can manage conflict better, you will no longer feel responsible for your loved ones’ feelings.
The Journey to Self Validation and Stop People Pleasing
The journey toward quitting people pleasing and engaging in more self-validation can be hard. In order to start that process, I would advise the following:
Accept your feelings with no judgement
This involves sitting with your feelings without reacting to them. Avoid telling yourself how you should feel. If something makes you feel frustrated, or angry practice just honoring these feelings. This helps you stop people pleasing and reinforces that your feelings are important regardless the circumstance.
Accurate Self Reflection
Learning how to accurately describe your internal processing helps to self validate. According to Hall (2014) “stating the facts of your experience is validating and helps build trust in your internal experience.” In order to get an accurate reflection to build that trust, focus on what triggered the emotion and what event caused it.
Honoring your History and your self
Sometimes you might have feelings and thoughts that are connected to past events. Even though these events have already happened, they still are valid and have an impact on people pleasing. Try not to suppress the emotional significance. When you notice yourself experiencing an intense reaction tied to the past respond with curiosity and compassion. Responding in this way supports self validation by saying to your former self. It means you understand and accept why they felt this way.
Be Your Own Cheerleader and Self Validate
Sometimes you can be your own worst enemy. This could result in invalidating behavior that can challenge our sense of worth. When you try to stop people pleasing, remember to create an inner self-talk that reflects the way you would engage with a friend as well as take care of yourself.
The path to being more self-validating can feel strange at first. It is a new way of relating to self. Sometimes there is fear that too much praise will result in an inflated sense of self. Ultimately, the acting of validating yourself is merely about how you see yourself. There is nothing wrong with learning how to accept and understand yourself. When you finally internalize that you are worthy the role of people pleaser will no longer fit you.
By Brynne Kessler, MFT
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