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Seeking Independence and Building Self-Esteem

Jun 18, 2024 | Self-Esteem

Feeling like you constantly need approval from others or relying too heavily on a single person for emotional needs can be exhausting and significantly impact self-esteem. Many people find themselves trapped in a cycle of dependence, unable to break free and develop a strong sense of independence and self-worth.

While healthy dependence is normal within relationships to foster mutual support and growth, when one person becomes entirely reliant on another, it hinders both individuals’ growth and well-being. However, with a focus on building self-esteem and cultivating independence, individuals can embark on a journey toward mutual support and interdependence within relationships.

Understanding the Need for Approval

Seeking approval from others stems from a deep-rooted need to feel accepted and validated. This behavior often originates in childhood experiences where external validation from parents, teachers, or peers plays a crucial role in shaping self-worth. As adults, this need for approval can persist, leading us to constantly seek reassurance from others and feel validated.

Validation can come from within or externally, each playing a different role in how we perceive our self-worth. Internal validation is recognizing and appreciating our accomplishments, strengths, and values without needing others’ approval. External validation comes from others’ recognition and praise. While external validation can be motivating and encouraging, relying solely on others can hinder our self-esteem.

While external validation isn’t bad in its own right , when it becomes a replacement for internal self-worth, it can lead to a cycle of seeking approval, where our self-worth depends on others’ opinions and feedback. When external validation becomes absent or inconsistent, it can leave us feeling unworthy and insecure, creating an internal emptiness that external approval cannot fill.

True self-worth is rooted in internal validation and acceptance. By acknowledging our achievements and qualities, we build a solid foundation of self-esteem that is not easily shaken by others’ opinions. To truly build self-worth, we must learn to cultivate internal validation, celebrate our successes, and recognize our value independently of others.

Strategies to Acknowledge Yourself

Acknowledging and appreciating yourself is a crucial step in building internal validation and cultivating self-worth. When you recognize your strengths and abilities, you create a stable foundation for self-esteem that is not reliant on others. This process in turn increases your confidence (belief in your ability to succeed) and resilience (ability to withstand emotional stress).

To build internal validation, it’s important to develop habits and practices that reinforce your self-worth. Here are some effective strategies:

  • Self-Reflection: Spend time regularly reflecting on achievements and strengths. When possible, focus on replacing negative thought patterns with positive ones.
  • Affirmations: Positive affirmations can remind you of your worth and capabilities, especially if you are feeling down. Repeating affirmations (as well as replacing negative affirmations) helps reinforce a positive self-image.
  • Mindfulness: Mindfulness practices involve staying present and appreciating the moment. In practice, they allow us the space to observe our thoughts nonjudgmentally and become content with how we are, rather than how we were or plan to be.
  • Set Personal Goals: Set small, measurable, and realistic goals that are meaningful to you. Achieving small successes boosts confidence and allows you to take on tasks that may have seemed impossible in the past.

Avoiding Over-Reliance on One Person

Sometimes, the need for approval can stem from over-reliance on one person, whether a family member, loved one, or friend. Over-reliance on others can strain relationships by limiting one’s ability to be self-sufficient and placing pressure on another person. When one depends too heavily on someone for emotional support, validation, or decision-making, it can create an imbalance that may lead to resentment or burnout for both parties.

Over-reliance can manifest in various ways:

  • Friends: Constantly seeking advice or approval from a particular friend.
  • Family: Depending on family members for emotional support of validation.
  • Romantic Partners: Relying on a partner to meet all of your emotional needs.

Dependence and independence are parts of a dual dance of interdependence. The ultimate goal in relationships is to be self-sufficient while allowing yourself to depend on others when needed and to support others when they require it. Achieving this balance cultivates healthier, more resilient relationships while encouraging individual growth.

The key to avoiding overreliance is cultivating self-sufficiency through independence and internal validation. This process allows you to rely on yourself for your most critical emotional needs and only rely on others for support when necessary.

Overcoming the Fear of Rejection

Having internal validation helps to avoid relying on others for self-worth, but it doesn’t eliminate the possibility of rejection. Fear of rejection is a functional and healthy part of engaging in new experiences. It is a protective mechanism rooted in our evolutionary history when acceptance was crucial for survival. In the past, rejection could mean isolation and danger, so fear of rejection helped keep communities together and ensure mutual support.

In modern society, however, this fear can hinder our personal growth and independence. While it’s natural to want acceptance, allowing the fear of rejection to dominate our lives can prevent us from taking risks, trying new things, and, ultimately, realizing our full potential. Overcoming this fear is essential for developing self-esteem and cultivating independence.

The first step to overcoming this fear is cultivating independence and self-reliance. Dependence on others for support is completely natural, but being able to rely on ourselves for the same support provides a wellspring of resilience to face life’s challenges and grow from them, whether successes or failures. In cultivating this self-reliance, all of life’s experiences become successes, as each offers an opportunity for growth and learning.

Steps to Cultivate Independence and Overcome Rejection

Cultivating independence provides a solid foundation for self-reliance , enabling us to navigate life’s challenges with confidence and resilience. When we are self-reliant, rejection becomes less daunting because our sense of self-worth is not dependent on the outcome. This independence empowers us to embrace new experiences and learn from successes and setbacks.

  • Develop Self-Awareness: Reflect on your fear of rejection and where this fear roots from. Understanding how these thought processes originate helps eliminate or replace them with more effective thought patterns.
  • Pursue Personal Interests: Engage in hobbies and activities that you enjoy and are good at. This helps build situational confidence and a sense of accomplishment, while providing you with a process for success that you can bring to future activities.
  • Practice Self-Compassion: Be kind to yourself, especially when facing rejection. Recognize that setbacks are a natural part of life and not a reflection of your worth.
  • Take Calculated Risks: Step out of your comfort zone and try new things. Each new experience, whether successful or not, is a learning opportunity that you can grow from.
  • Seek Professional Help: Therapy offers a structured and empathetic setting to work on these skills with a licensed professional who can provide practical strategies and support on your journey to cultivating independence.

Take the Next Step With Start My Wellness

Building internal validation and independence is crucial for developing a healthy sense of self-worth and building stronger, more balanced relationships. By understanding the need for approval, avoiding over-reliance on others, and overcoming the fear of rejection, we achieve greater personal growth and a more fulfilling life.

At Start My Wellness, we are dedicated to helping you achieve these goals. Our team of experienced professionals is ready to support you on your journey towards independence and self-esteem. We offer a range of services designed to address your unique needs and empower you to build a stronger, more confident self.

Take the next step with Start My Wellness. Contact us today at (248)-514-4955 and meet our therapists to begin your journey towards a more independent and fulfilling life.



  1. Start My Wellness: The Roots of Confidence
  2. Psych Central: Do You Seek Validation From Others?
  3. Start My Wellness: How Can Self-Esteem Help You Through Difficult Situations?
  4. Start My Wellness: How to Break the Cycle of Codependency
  5. Start My Wellness: Is Codependency Bad in Relationships?
  6. Start My Wellness: Seeking Love
  7. Start My Wellness: Fostering Independence in Children
Dr. Anton Babushkin

Author: Anton Babushkin, PhD

Looking for a Therapist? Start My Wellness has highly experienced Licensed Therapists that are currently accepting new patients.


Blog Posts Tags: Self-Confidence
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