The Psychology of External Validation

A recent conversation intrigued me to explore this topic, and I find it perhaps one of the most relevant ones I have written about. So, here goes.

I’ve known people who always get hundreds of likes on their posts hours within posting them. I have never been one of these people. I’ve never received many likes or shares, and when I was in my younger years, it was hurtful, in a way. I used to see my posts and shares sit on my wall for days with only a few likes, and back then, it was painful for me, so to say. It made me doubt my worthiness, and created a feeling that no one cared about what I had to say. I used to post a lot on Facebook just to see how many likes/shares/comments would accumulate in a few hours. I would be disheartened when that number didn’t live upto my expectations. I’m sure some of you have had this feeling, and it’s okay.

Why? Why, just why is it like this? Why do we doubt our worth, why do we feel so bad just because someone didn’t press or click the like button on a realm of technology that has no impact on our real circumstances?

Unfortunately, humans have always based their self-worth and the way they feel on how others feel about them. The more likes we get, the better we feel, it’s really as simple as that. If our like meter falls short of what we expected, we feel embarrassed. We say, “I shouldn’t have posted this one,” even though we posted it because we, ourselves liked it! We begin to regret it, because others didn’t appreciate it. Some people even go as far as delete their posts if they don’t elicit the reaction they hoped for. Humans seek approval, and when we don’t get it, our pride takes a hit.

I’m not the most introspective person you’ll meet, but for a year and since, I’ve begun to care lesser and lesser about this. I think we all need to stop putting emphasis on others’ opinions on our lifestyles.

I’ve studied the curious pattern of people who are exceptions to this rule, those who use social media but care less about what people care about their posts.

Why would you give so much power to someone who calls themselves your Facebook/Instagram friend or follower? Why would you allow others to possess the power to make you feel negatively about yourself? You have to be able to reclaim the power to assess your own strengths and weaknesses, not gauge yourself by the amount of followers or the likes that one post gets. These numbers have the ability to make us feel special for a few minutes, hours or even days, but after that, when your post disappears into the endless pit of social media, there will be no more new likes to cheer you up.

It’s often said that no two people are the same. Well, the thing about being different than every one else is that not too many people will relate with the things you find fascinating, not everyone will identify with what you post. They don’t identify with the things you find fascinating, entertaining, cool, or ‘hip’, or maybe they simply don’t comprehend what that particular thing means to you. That is it. The absence of likes is not really a projection of how loved you are actually, it doesn’t validate whether you are adequate. Know that what you believe is important and the things that fascinate you don’t need a mouse click or a screen tap from somebody to be purposeful.

Humans are social creatures, and so they look for external validation from others. Don’t chase other people’s acceptance, because you will lose your nerve. There will never be a person who can satisfy everyone. For every viewpoint you have, there will always exist another mind that stands against that opinion. Don’t be afraid of expressing your thoughts, don’t be overcome by the fear of rejection, remember that you are honourable just as you are, and the content of your character doesn’t depend on what you share on your timeline, and the amount of likes/shares/comments it receives, or the amount of followers you garner on social media. So, keep it in mind, if you ever notice that someone has stopped following you or liking your posts. It just means that they no longer see eye to eye with you, and it doesn’t have to be a bad thing. 

3 thoughts on “The Psychology of External Validation

  1. Very well written…I think this would surely make a lot of people introspect their own value systems. Proud of you, seeing the willingness to decipher normal human behaviour and comment on it with constructive opinion.


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