I think it’s the perfect time to write about validation and recognition and this constant desire we sometimes have of seeking approval and acceptance. 

Even addictive behaviour, not that I want to put a negative twist on it, so stay with me.  

This is really more about recognition in life, about status, being acknowledged, feeling like you’re worthy.

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I touch on self-esteem and confidence. It’s all interlinked, and I’m going to show you the link. 

In this article, I show you how you and I go through life, constantly looking to be recognised, acknowledged, and to be assigned a value.

That’s a strange thing to say. Who’s going to assign you a value? But without realising it, we all do it. 

Sometimes we go through our whole lives, without knowing what it is that we’re actually looking for.

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Seeking Validation from Others

For example, I want to be recognised for my skills.I want to be accepted in the crowd, I want to be accepted by my work peers.

I just want to be accepted. 

We strive for that acceptance all of our lives. 

There are different ways that we approach this when we’re talking about it, but ultimately, we’re looking for acceptance, recognition, validation, etc. 

All of these are synonymous in the human pursuit for contentment and happiness. 

The desire to find that recognition can drive a person to do many things you wouldn’t otherwise do. 

Deep Desire For Acceptance

These desires and needs become the force and motivation behind much of what we do. 

What exactly do we want so much that it drives us to the behaviours that keep us stuck in a rut?

Keep us doing things that we don’t like doing ourselves, and yet we struggle to let go of some of these things.

Validation, recognition, or the desire to be accepted can be a dangerous game. When a person feels that validation, it becomes like an addiction. 

Because if you don’t get the validation, then it affects your self-esteem. It affects your confidence. It makes you feel like an outsider. 

And ultimately makes you feel like you’re different from everyone else. 

It even affects your ability to show up in life. 

It can manifest in many ways such as procrastination, social anxiety, or other ways. 

In fact, if a certain amount of healthy validation isn’t shown, then we also have a problem. 

The Good, Bad And Desperate Sides of Validation

There are multiple sides to this. Validation, recognition, acceptance is not a bad thing. 

But it can be depending on how much we seek it and what we’re doing to get it. 

At the same time, if you don’t get it, then it creates problems in our lives and in our relationships. 

We may feel like our relationships are void of emotional intimacy or understanding. 

You may begin to feel misunderstood or unappreciated or both. 

This is the beginning of relationship challenges. 

Not just the challenges that one has with the significant people in their lives, the husband, the wife, the parents, but also your relationship with yourself. 

It becomes very personal when you believe you don’t deserve recognition for who you are or what you do. 

It becomes very personal when you don’t get any recognition or validation for your personal qualities and attributes. 

The husband and the wife struggle, parent and child struggle. The manager and the team members struggle. 

This affects all relationships. 

It doesn’t matter if it’s a personal or a business relationship, it affects all relationships. 

A Healthy Dose of Validation 

Validation and recognition have positives and negatives. And sometimes it’s absolutely essential. 

Other times, when a person becomes addicted to it, and constantly craves it, it becomes problematic because it drives their behaviour. 

Very often as children, we felt rejected. 

Maybe you weren’t shown a particular type of acceptance or validation or recognition, then you feel as though you didn’t receive the love and affection that you needed to feel validated, to feel recognised, and to feel worthy.

That affects a person as they grow up if they don’t recognise it and let it go. 

It’s not just children. Even as adults, when our relationships lack this, we feel rejected, or like we’re not good enough.

When there’s too much validation then it has the opposite effect. 

It loses all value and sometimes you actually don’t believe it. 

So, too much of it is no good. Too little of it is no good. However, this is a fundamental human need. 

It’s important to understand the good and the bad of this desire and need. 

The fact that we need it means it’s essential for us. But when it transcends the need and it becomes a desire then it tends to fall into the negative. 

There are times when you just need it and it’s healthy.

But there are times that it becomes a challenge and you really need to just avoid it and recognise that you’re seeking it out. 

We all need it and seeking it from the people around you can become a good thing if it’s tending to your needs.

But it becomes a destructive thing for you and your relationship if it’s the other and this is usually the case when we struggle to accept ourselves.

The greatest validation that anyone needs is to validate themselves. 

The reason that we’re mostly out there seeking validation or recognition or to be accepted by others is that we have not yet accepted ourselves. 

We struggle to be by ourselves. 

Have you ever been in a situation where you’re constantly trying to stay busy, going from one thing to the next, from work to family to social?

You can’t sit quietly by yourself. Because you don’t know what to do with yourself in that quiet time.

Sometimes during that quiet time, when there’s a pause between things, you see things in yourself that you don’t actually like.

You see things that are missing and you want to stay distracted. 

This is the case for many people.

It may not be for you but my guess is you may resonate with this to a degree. 

This is a common struggle people have and it’s the symptoms of low self-esteem, a part of it.

In fact, the whole validation thing is directly connected to low self-esteem and a lack of confidence. 

Sometimes, not knowing our own abilities to create a great life with the God-given skills and resources that we find ourselves with, makes us miss it completely. 

We’re too busy distracting ourselves, trying to gain some sort of acceptance or recognition for destructive behaviour that actually works against us.

It keeps us so busy, that we’re unable to see what’s actually going on. 

If you feel like you’re lacking something, then you feel like you’re in need. 

This is when people become very needy and want validation or recognition or acceptance amongst their peer group or whoever it is they seek it from. 

People in general simply do not like or appreciate neediness because they’re dealing with their own stuff. 

The last thing they want is to feel the burden of someone else’s need. Even if they want to help and support you. 

When it becomes a burden for them, it repels people. 

Ultimately you fall into a vicious cycle. 

You want acceptance, validation, recognition, someone to help you to feel worthy, accepted, or to feel good enough. 

And they feel burdened by that need to help you. 

You’re doing it subconsciously and they’re doing it subconsciously. But it’s happening and it affects the relationship. 

It’s very off-putting for most people and it disconnects people. 

The Cure For Constant Craving of Validation

So, if you recognise that you constantly need this, then doing some inner work is good to figure out what you’re actually feeling.

Reflect on your behaviours, intentions, and actions. What are you trying to achieve through seeking validation?

Now, it’s important to recognise that the greatest connection and validation that you’re ever going to get is from Allah. 

The one constant validation and connection that you can have is always being connected to the Most Merciful, the Most Loving, the One who accepts you regardless. 

Allah (swt) will always accept you and has given us guidelines to help ourselves by shaping our minds with knowledge and understanding. 

That will shape your behaviour. 

Recognition, awareness, and understanding will open up the pathway. 

So all that’s required is that we try our best with this understanding, and recognition and this awareness.

You have to be aware because you cannot resolve something that you’re not aware of.

But once you know then you’ve got to take action on these things. 

If you want to know what’s really going on, look at your actions and behaviour.

The Prophet (saw) said: “Certainly actions are determined by the intentions.”

Your actions are in accordance with your intentions.

If you’re not taking the action that makes you happy or you’re not doing the things that create what you want in life, and you have all this needy behaviour, the desire to be validated, to feel like you’re worthy by someone else telling you, or liking your social feed, then you have to look at what your intentions are. 

If you are affected by a lack of social likes or lack of comments on your social feed, then that’s a signal that you’re looking for validation, and recognition, for someone to pay attention to you. 

You don’t need it. Because all of that is unreal. 

Sure, it’s connecting to people but it’s not a real human connection. It’s not the same as getting on the phone and speaking to someone. 

It’s not the same as meeting with someone. 

You can’t get that validation from a social connection. 

When we become addicted to validation via social media, then we become addicted to social media. 

The whole thing has been designed so we become addicted. It makes us seek our validation through it. 

Yes, it’s a great tool for connecting and for networking and being connected to the kind of people you want to be connected to.

But it’s not a great tool for validation. It’s not a great tool for telling you your worthiness or acceptance, or whether you’re good enough.

It’s not a great tool for building your confidence. 

So, if you’re using the tool for the wrong thing, you’re going to get a short-term fix, but you’ll become addicted to it. 

Addictive behaviour comes from the desire for that validation so that we continually behave in a particular way because we feel as though it’s serving some need within us. 

Fulfilling some emotional need that you have. 

This is the same reason people get addicted to drugs or alcohol or anything else for that matter. They feel like it’s serving a need. 

But it’s misdirected. 

It never serves the need. That’s why you’re constantly getting a short-term fix.

And then you’re back to it again and again and again, looking for that feeling. 

What you really have to do is that inner work.

Look at your behaviours and your actions and then look at what’s behind that.

What are you trying to achieve by doing this?

Most of these behaviours don’t give us what we want. 

It’s funny how we always end up with that inner struggle. 

Because whatever it is, validation or recognition or, going out there and networking and connecting with people, we’re always trying to satisfy an internal need. 

That’s why you’ve got to do the inner work. 

If you have destructive behaviours, behaviours that you don’t like, maybe they’re not destructive, maybe they’re just always distracting you, or taking you away from important things and making you waste your time with unimportant things.

If that’s what’s going on. Then you need to look at your behaviour. 

What’s your goal? What are your intentions?

You can see that by the actions you’re taking. 

This is why I say it’s funny that we end up with the inner struggle, because it always comes back to the inner work and inner work cannot be done without reflection.

It cannot be done without thinking. 

When you do that inner work, the outer challenges or solutions will manifest. It will become available to you. 

You will become aware of what the actual challenges and solutions are. 

Validation and recognition are human needs. 

However much of the time, we’re looking to be accepted within a crowd or within a peer group. And you don’t need that. 

Validation and acceptance are human needs. It’s something that people struggle with their whole lives. 

I can speak from my own experience because, at times, I’ve actually felt like a rebel or an outsider who has no acceptance. 

Whilst at other times, I felt totally accepted and totally integrated. It has much to do with what’s going on inside as opposed to what’s going on outside. 

A strange finding in my own life was that many times I felt accepted when I was just following the crowd. When I was doing what everyone else was doing.

So I’ve learned through life experience that there’s no normal.

Normal is not being a part of the crowd and being accepted.

Because striving is a part of life. And we’re all in the pursuit of happiness and goals. We’re all looking for this. 

When I felt like a rebel, when I wasn’t accepted, that’s when I did things that everyone else wasn’t doing. I’m okay with that. I got used to the idea of that being a norm.

That’s all you have to do. Get your head around the fact that you don’t have to do what everyone else does. 

If you’re doing what everyone else is doing, then quite often that could be because we’re looking for validation or acceptance. 

No one wants to feel like a stranger.

But the most important thing is to strive for what you need first before what you desire. 

If we can just learn to accept ourselves first, by validating ourselves, then we have reached the foundational form of validation and recognition.

Most people struggle with this one. 

When I’m working with my clients, training my coaches, doing therapeutic work, or high-performance work with business clients, I find that the biggest challenge most people have, despite their successes, is with themselves. 

That may be low self trust or it may be low self belief. 

They believe in themselves in one area and in other areas they absolutely struggle.

People who have great success, those who achieved a lot in their lives by societal standards, achieved a lot in their lives by the common standards. 

Can you imagine that they suffer from the same self-acceptance or recognition issues?

Sure, they acknowledge their own achievements and they thrive in that but they still struggle with themselves.

That’s the irony. Success doesn’t necessarily breed a high degree of self-belief or self-image. This is inner work, connecting to Allah (swt). 

Living in congruence with this will give you trust, likability, and loving yourself. 

You can be highly successful but struggle with yourself. I’ve seen this many times.

Validation and recognition are important. 

But the most important validation and recognition that we need, is that need to be accepted, regardless of our flaws and regardless of the mistakes that we make.

The only one that does that 100% of the time is the Most Merciful, Ar Rahman, Ar Rahim.

Then after that, it’s your loved ones but this is not unconditional.

If you want your loved ones, and the people who are close to you to accept you and give you that validation, then here’s a tip.

Most people are out there trying to get what they need. But the easiest way to get it is for you to give it first. 

The Power of Giving Validation

The easiest way for you to get what you need is to give it to others first.

People want it just as much as you and I want it.

No one goes out into the world saying it’s what they want. But their actions are shouting it out.

Ask yourself.

Are your actions calling out, shouting out that you need acceptance, validation and to be told you’re worthy?

The only one that can give you that is the One that gives it to you unconditionally. Always and forever. 

Regardless of how many mistakes you make.

Al Ghafaar; the One who is perpetually forgiving. 

If you want to receive it, you have to start by giving it first.  

You get that love, respect and acceptance by giving it first. 

If you do that, you deprive yourself of nothing. 

Because you’re giving it out to the world. 

You’re giving it to the people that you love and they will give it back to you. 

Even if you give it to people you don’t know. 

Respect, acceptance, mercy, kindness, tolerance, patience, not being judgmental. If you can give this to others, they will give it to you in return.

Remember, it starts within.

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About the Author: Abdul Shahid – Master Coach Trainer & Therapist of Professional Life Coaches, pioneering The Science of the Nafs Psychology model for healing, transformation and peak performance. Specialist in Mind health, wealth and mastery using this Quran and sunnah based Spiritual Psychology.