Why You Seek Validation From Others & How to Stop

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Untamed" by Glennon Doyle. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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Why do some people always seek validation from others? How can you build self-confidence and stop seeking validation?

Author Glennon Doyle observes that the tendency to look to others for validation has diminished women’s ability to trust their own decisions. Learning to explore your intuition through quiet reflection can free you from seeking validation. 

Keep reading to learn Doyle’s advice for learning to trust your own decisions.

Embracing Intuition

Embracing your intuition involves being guided by a deep sense of inner truth. When you deeply understand yourself, you can make confident decisions. In this section, we will learn about Doyle’s experiences doubting her intuition, what happened when she finally embraced it, and how she developed a method for tapping into her inner knowledge. We will then explore how you can embrace intuition in your everyday life. 

Doyle observes that women are conditioned to please and seek approval from others—as a result, they don’t often trust their instincts and seek validation from others. Doyle realized this during a crisis in her marriage.

After she became pregnant with her first child, Doyle married the father of her baby, Craig Melton. Several years into their marriage, Craig admitted to having multiple affairs with other women. Doyle had to decide if she wanted to stay in the marriage, and she looked to outside sources for advice. She asked friends, read books, and even consulted Google, but no one could answer her question. 

Doyle realized no one else shared her life experiences, and therefore she had to make this decision by herself. She had to find a way to connect with herself deeply to make decisions based on her inner wisdom and intuition rather than others’ opinions. 

The Damage of Low Self-Confidence in the Workplace

Doyle discusses women’s lack of confidence in the context of their personal lives, but this issue extends much further—many women also experience the negative effects of low self-confidence in the workplace. In The Confidence Code, authors Katty Kay and Claire Shipman point out how a woman’s lack of confidence at work and the deferential behaviors they display can result in lower pay, fewer opportunities for advancement, and feelings of inadequacy. Their inclination to distrust their instincts and seek validation from others inhibits their ability to take the sort of confident action that would earn respect and rewards in the workplace. 

They suggest that women increase their confidence in the workplace by focusing less on deferential behaviors, such as perfectionism and people-pleasing, and more on action and risk-taking. They advocate the “fail fast” approach: taking action on several of your own ideas, expecting some of them to fail. Getting used to taking action—and learning not to fear failure—helps women to stop seeking validation from others and to become self-reliant.

Exercise: Write a New Message to Yourself

To help you stop seeking validation from others, Doyle recommends that you write new messages about who you are and what you believe. In this exercise, you can identify the things you value most about yourself, your core beliefs, and the promises you can make to yourself going forward. 

  • What do you like about yourself? How can you honor these qualities and treat yourself with respect?
  • What are your strongest beliefs? What are your core values?
  • What are some changes you need to make in your life? What are some promises that you can make to yourself?
Why You Seek Validation From Others & How to Stop

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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Glennon Doyle's "Untamed" at Shortform .

Here's what you'll find in our full Untamed summary :

  • Glennon Doyle's story of freeing herself from society's rules and expectations
  • Why you should rebuild your life using emotion, intuition, and imagination
  • A look at how young women are taught to repress their emotions and desires

Emily Kitazawa

Emily found her love of reading and writing at a young age, learning to enjoy these activities thanks to being taught them by her mom—Goodnight Moon will forever be a favorite. As a young adult, Emily graduated with her English degree, specializing in Creative Writing and TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language), from the University of Central Florida. She later earned her master’s degree in Higher Education from Pennsylvania State University. Emily loves reading fiction, especially modern Japanese, historical, crime, and philosophical fiction. Her personal writing is inspired by observations of people and nature.

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