Cafe Monet – Addicted to Feeling Loved

Validation vs Recognition:

Everyone likes a reward for good behavior!

What is the difference between recognition and validation? Some people seek recognition for their accomplishments and the good deeds they’ve done. The need for recognition and applause drives their behavior so that they set themselves up for success in getting the reward of Recognition.

When we think of the relationship between behavior and reward, it’s common to think of classical conditioning methods such as the Pavlovian method. There is also an adjacent lessor known theory called Skinner Box*.

Skinner Box theorizes that when we repeatedly do an action or behavior, we are rewarded with the thing we desire that is attached to that action or behavior. Instead of simply responding to outside stimuli, we do the behavior and then we get the reward.

Even my dog has figured this out! He sets himself up to receive the reward of “Good Boy!!!”  He does this by running up the stairs when I get the leash instead of immediately walking over three feet and allowing me to put on his collar. Instead, he gleefully runs to the top of the stairs. Sits. Waits to be called. Then, he runs down the stairs and sits by my feet. He then gets an enthusiastic “Good Boy!!!” from me along with a nice rub behind the ears.

I often wondered why he was so strange in always sitting and waiting to be invited to jump up on my bed or waiting at a distance to be ordered to “come!!” when he desperately needs to pee so I looked into it. (I’m a knowledge junkie). I wanted to understand how he figured out that when he does those things, he gets the reward of praise.

This type of behavior is subconscious. It’s learned behavior that most of us are unaware of and therefore vulnerable to adapting beliefs that are not in our best interests.  For example, people pleasers.

People pleasers know that when they do something nice for others, they’ve done a good thing. They feel good about themselves. Yes! They are a good person!! Typically, people pleasers do their good deeds not for overt recognition or anything in return but simply because it makes them feel good to help others. Validation is something we feel inside that makes us feel happy. The more we please others, the more times we feel happy to have helped.

Like any other addiction, we can become so addicted to this feeling that we will do anything to get our fix and as often as possible. We slide into self-destructive behavior.  We all know that in order to take care of others or do our jobs well, we need to first take care of ourselves. To do that, we need to learn to set healthy boundaries for ourselves and then take care of ourselves so we can continue to help others.

Setting healthy boundaries also includes protecting yourself from toxic people. If someone is always whining and complaining and you feel drained when your visit is finished – let them go. If you dread thinking about spending time with them because you know it will be another dumping session, know that It’s ok to slip away and not make time for them and their constant drama. You do not need to constantly sacrifice yourself in order to receive the validation you desire.

Validation is a feeling that comes from within. If people pleasing is what you are addicted to as your way of getting immediate gratification/validation, consider alternative ways you can help others. It can be as simple as smiling and saying a cheery “hello” to strangers walking solo as you pass by.  


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