The need for validation: Why women seek praise

The need for validation: Why women seek praise


Most women have probably experienced the need for validation at some point in their lives. This need can be driven by a variety of factors, but it often stems from a lack of self-confidence. Women may feel that they need to receive praise from others to feel good about themselves. And while external validation can make us feel good in the short term, it’s quite troublesome in the long run. When we rely on others to make us feel good about ourselves, we’re giving them too much power over our happiness.


There are a few possible explanations:
First, many women are taught from a young age that their worth is based on their appearance and their achievements. As a result, they may feel that they need to prove themselves to others.
Additionally, women are often socialized to be caring and nurturing, which can make them more sensitive to the opinions of
Lastly, many women have experienced sexism or discrimination in their lives, which can make them feel like they’re not good enough.
Ultimately the need for validation is a personal issue that each woman needs to explore and address on her own.
But it’s important to remember that we don’t need others to make us feel good about ourselves.  We can find our own sense of self-worth by looking within ourselves and cultivation our own inner strength.  And when we learn to love and accept ourselves, we won’t need others’ approval anymore.

Where does the need for validation come from in women?

Most women are socialized from an early age to seek validation from others. This comes from a historical need to appeal to others in order to survive.  Yes, up until very recently, and in some countries it is still the case, women did not have any power to own property, have a bank account or lines of credit, were not allowed to drive etc.  
This is all in our recent history.
Which means that our well-meaning influencers like our parents, teachers, mentors etc have all passed these messages to us today.

This need for approval can be seen in many different areas of life, but it is especially prevalent among women in traditionally male dominated environments such as STEM, Technology, Finance or Motorsport.
Unfortunately, seeking validation from others can be dangerous in the long run.
There are several reasons why women may feel the need to seek praise from their peers, but some of the most common reasons are a lack of self-confidence and a fear of being judged.
When we rely too much on the opinions of others, we put ourselves in a position where our happiness and self-worth are dependent on outside factors.
This can be a recipe for disaster because it’s impossible to control what other people think or say about us.


The above image is credited to the work of Tara Mohr, author of Playing Big.

Women experience feedback very differently to men.

Women have an energetic sense of others, they can literally feel others’ energy and judgement.

Women experience more personal feedback than men. What I mean by that is that women are more likely to receive feedback on their appearance and personality over their performance.

Women have a far more relationship focused approach. Many women seek harmony and fear conflict. 

As previously mentioned, women experience feedback on their appearance suggesting that their worth is linked to how they look.

Growing up being told to be a ‘good girl’ and not rocking the boat has left women struggling outside of environments where the rules are clear and distinct. Good girl conditioning also leads to putting others before self, and staying quiet, believing that others have more worthy points of view.

And finally historical survival. Women NEEDED the approval of men and those in power in order to survive.  They had to appeal to others.

What are the problems with seeking validation externally?

The need for validation is a strong desire to be accepted and appreciated by others. It often manifests in women as a need for praise and admiration. The problem with seeking validation externally is that it can be a never-ending cycle. People can be fickle, and what once made someone feel good may no longer do so. Additionally, it can be difficult to maintain healthy relationships when one’s self-worth is contingent upon others.
Women often seek validation from others because they need to feel good about themselves. However, external validation is often not sustainable in the long term. It can be difficult to maintain healthy relationships or achieve success when our worth is based on what others think of us.
Ultimately, it is important to find validation from within. This involves learning to appreciate and accept oneself just as they are. When we learn to find our own validation, we are less likely to depend on others for it, and we can better enjoy healthy relationships.

Is external validation harmful?

Many women feel the need to seek praise from others in order to feel good about themselves. While this may seem like a harmless habit, it can actually be quite harmful in the long run.
Striving for external validation can also lead to competition and division among women. We should be lifting each other up, not tearing each other down.
External validation is problematic because it’s based on other people’s opinions, which can be unpredictable and unreliable. What’s more, relying on others for validation can leave us feeling needy and powerless.
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There are many ways to find self-validation. If you have recognized yourself in a pattern of relying on external validation then it is important to give yourself grace and time to learn a new way of being.
When we have relied on others to tell us what to do and how to be, it takes time to come back to ourselves and really get to know what is most important to us as individuals.
You can use the five steps outlined in the “Dye Your Hair Purple Sooner” 5 Steps To Becoming The Legendary Leader Of Your Technicolour Life book for an in-depth process to rediscover your values and priorities, or use the following tips as a starting point.
  • Focus on your strengths and accomplishments.

  • Spend time with people who build you up and make you feel good about yourself.

  • Practice self-compassion, which means accepting and respecting ourselves, even when we make mistakes.

  • Look for external validation less often. This may mean seeking out compliments less, or being less affected by negative feedback. (For more tips on this see this article.)

  • Focus on the things that you do well. This can be anything from your work to your hobbies. When you focus on your strengths, it becomes easier to feel good about yourself.

  • Learn how to give yourself approval. This can be done by setting realistic standards and accepting yourself for who you are.

  • Remember that no-one is perfect and that it is okay to make mistakes.

  • Focus on the things that you are good at and appreciate your accomplishments, even if they don’t receive rave reviews from others.

  • Remember that we are all different. What works for one person may not work for another. It is important to find what makes you feel good and to stick with it.

  • Remember that you are enough, just the way you are.


When it comes to the need for validation, women in business and male-dominated industries need to remember that they are not alone.  Many women feel the need to seek out external validation, and there is no shame in that.

However, it is important to remember that this can be a difficult habit to break.
When it comes to women in business and women in male-dominated industries, there are a few reasons why seeking praise may be more common.  In some cases, these fields can be challenging and women may feel that they need to receive validation from others to feel good about themselves.
External validation is troublesome in the long term.  It can be difficult to maintain focus when your success is dependent on the opinions of others.  Instead, it’s important to find validation from within.


  • Start by recognizing your own accomplishments. Give yourself credit where it’s due, and don’t be afraid to celebrate your successes.

  • Second, surround yourself with a supportive community of women. Find mentors and role models who will encourage you to reach your full potential. (Check out the ways that I can support you here)

  • And finally, don’t be afraid to speak up. Share your stories and your experiences, and be a voice for change.

Together, we can create a more positive environment for women in male dominated environments such as business, STEM fields, Finance and Motorsport to name just a few.


Hi, I'm

Lorraine Hamilton

Lorraine Hamilton is an award-winning coach.

She is also a former engineer, part time stand up comedian, voracious tea drinker and wannabe race car driver.
Lorraine is the creator of the The SWITCH Coaching System® and has spent the past 17 years coaching ambitious high-achieving women, writing books and mentoring hundreds of other coaches to greater freedom and success.

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    1. Thanks for your comment Graciey, I’m glad you found it helpful. Feel free to explore some more of my blogs, you might enjoy them. Thanks for stopping by, it means a lot to me.