If you’ve read my other post about BPD, you’re aware of many of the symptoms- especially if you’re diagnosed with it yourself. If you haven’t, validation is a pretty significant part of it, and it’s not only with BPD. Living with a constant need for validation is in a variety of mental health problems, making itself known before you even find out what’s going on in your brain. These can stem from possible bullying, manipulative relationships, emotional abuse, and even the way you see yourself.
Despite how often this issue comes up, there is little knowledge on how to properly treat someone who has a need for validation. Don’t confront them with anger, irritation, or flat out verbal abuse; people who feel like this hope to avoid just that, and by reacting that way you worsen the problem. They crave relationships where they don’t need to worry about you getting annoyed- they don’t need to spend all night thinking of how you hate them and want them dead.
That’s the exact reason no matter how much you tell someone you love and appreciate them, they will answer with a monologue as to why you don’t.
I don’t blame my parents for introducing me to the world of narcissism: they taught me how important impressions are, always mirroring other parenting styles so I wouldn’t look like the outcast in a group. Narcissism actually plays a huge role in validation, and for those diagnosed with social anxiety or Narcissistic Personality Disorder it’s multiplied by 100. Walking down the streets, my school hallways, sometimes even my own home, a nagging in the back of my head is a replay of “they’re judging you. They’re laughing at you. They hate you.”, which of course fuels the fire of validation.
If I’m not the best looking one in the room, then I’m the ugliest, and everybody is against me. I want people to be attracted to me, noticing me and thinking “she looks like a cool person” instead of “I don’t know her but I hate her guts”. I used to dress and act the way I liked, but ever since I realized that wouldn’t get me love, everything has changed.
And the grand harbinger of validation and narcissism: social media.
Didn’t get enough retweets on your selfies? Delete it. You must’ve looked ugly. Nobody commented on your Instagram post? Delete it. As if anyone would care enough, anyway. Have 100 Snapchat friends but only 20 viewed your story? Well, they have to hate you, since that’s the only logical explanation.
Don’t get me wrong; social media is an amazing platform that allows easy access to people you know, people you don’t, and people you’d like to. However, it’s also detrimental to someone’s self-esteem and mental health. All the examples listed above are reasons why constant validation has become such a huge problem to peoples’ mental states. You see these beautiful, almost unrealistically so, accounts getting dozens to hundreds to thousands of retweets and likes and screenshots and-you get the point-others find themselves wondering why they’re not the ones receiving showers of love, ultimately taking a toll over time.
If you see this happening to someone you know (and pay attention, because it’s almost always hidden), make sure they realize periodically, or as much as they need, that you love and appreciate their existence. They need this reassurance more than ever, not irritation in response to fears of an unstable relationships. Reminding them is never a hassle if it shows them how much you want them around.
And if you struggle with this yourself, don’t feel bad for wanting to know how loved and wanted you are. If someone isn’t willing to understand the hardships you face everyday with needing validation, they aren’t worth keeping around. Hopefully, this article makes you feel validated in knowing that you’re not alone.