Updated: Oct 17
People with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) often struggle with the need for constant validation due to their low self-esteem. They have trouble determining what is right and wrong and thus require the approval of others when making decisions. Additionally, they avoid making mistakes at all costs since they fear rejection to their core.
In this article, we'll discuss why people with BPD need constant validation and how they can stop needing it.
Do you need constant validation?
People with BPD are often looking for other people's approval when making decisions. Not only do people with BPD struggle with the need for seeking validation, but someone with no diagnosis can also struggle with it just as much. And seeking validation is not always a bad thing since it can also be reassuring and motivating. But it becomes unhealthy when it is the focal point of everything you do. Seeking constant validation can develop anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem.
To see if you are constantly needing validation, I listed a few examples below that potentially resonate with you:
When you buy something, choose something, or do anything at all, you're always waiting to see how others react to check if it's right.
You're always worried about what other people think of you.
You're scared of making your own decisions.
You need validation to be able to feel good about something you achieved.
You doubt everything you do, even if it's something small.
You try to make sure that you don't make mistakes.
You're emotionally dependent on your friends, and you feel like a burden because of it.
If you resonate with this, you may be dealing with a lot of anxiety. It's very tiring to depend on others all the time, and you may develop identity issues when you never follow your own likes and dislikes. It's essential to be able to feel happy without someone else's validation. And in the end, you want to be comfortable in your own skin and be confident in the decisions you make. So, how can we achieve all of this?
Why do people with BPD need constant validation?
There are 3 reasons why people with BPD need constant validation: doubt in self because of inconsistent parenting, fear of rejection, and being incompetent.
Doubt in self because of inconsistent parenting The first reason people with BPD seek constant validation is inconsistent parenting. Growing up in an environment where the rules and boundaries keep changing can prevent someone from learning what is right and wrong. They would be judged inconsistently each time they said or did something.
Imagine having a pet and not telling the pet where it's allowed to use the bathroom. One day it uses the bathroom, and you yell at it, making the pet feel bad. The next day it uses the bathroom somewhere else, and you don't yell at it. If you do this in an inconsistent way, the pet can never figure out what's right and wrong. The pet eventually gets too scared to use the bathroom since there is a chance of getting yelled at.
Anytime a child grows up in an environment where the rules keep changing, they can't figure out what's right and wrong, and therefore they can't act with confidence. And now, they feel uncertain and doubt themselves with every decision they make. The doubt keeps them from acting, and it paralyzes them. "What if I do something and it turns out to be a mistake?" Or "Is this person going to be mad when I do or say something?" The safest thing to do... is nothing because that avoids the potential negative outcome. The doubt that they are constantly experiencing is actually trying to protect them from these negative experiences by wanting to require reassurance from other people.
When you don't have faith in your own conclusions, your mind naturally goes to someone else. If you're plagued with this cycle of doubt in yourself, chances are that cycle of doubt was instilled in you. Humans usually aren't born doubting since a child lacks the mental capacity for doubt.
''People that need constant validation are looking for an objectively right answer in a world that doesn't have objective right answers.''
After being raised with inconsistent parenting, they may still be looking for external people to tell them what's right and wrong, but the truth is, there aren't really rules to what's right and wrong.
Fear of rejection The second reason people with BPD seek constant validation is their fear of rejection. People with BPD were often badly rejected in the past or for a long time by a significant person in their lives, and it hurt them so deeply that they carry that pain with them and are frightened of it occurring again. The winning strategy becomes to do nothing, to not do or say anything, because if they never take a chance to do something, they're never in danger and can't be rejected.
Their brain essentially learned to be cautious of rejection and how to predict it. It is considered something harmful and dangerous. They eventually learn to predict smaller and smaller signs of rejection, and they work themselves into a position where they can't get hurt. But this 'safe' position isn't healthy in the long run.
Being incompetent The third reason people with BPD seek constant validation is due to being incompetent and their inability to be independent. This doesn't mean that the disorder makes people incompetent since they are still capable to do things on their own, but it's because of their low self-esteem, which makes them feel as if they need to rely on others for everything.
When someone with BPD is incompetent or struggles with being independent, they're often raised by a caregiver that did everything for them. They did not have to decide or think for themselves. And in some cases, they weren't even allowed to do things by themselves. Someone who is raised in such an environment never learned to do things on their own and never built up any confidence to take the initiative.
We all experience moments when we feel unable to deal with the problems we face in our lives. But people with BPD may consistently feel inadequate in many areas of their life. They might feel helpless and too dependent on others. They avoid trying new tasks, and they may choose to depend on others to guide or motivate them to complete tasks.
How can someone with BPD stop seeking approval?