9 Telltale Signs Your Self-Esteem Relies Too Much on Others' Approval

signs your self esteem relies on others

Self-esteem is a tricky thing. For many of us, feeling good about ourselves often seems tied to how others perceive us. But when does this natural human tendency tip over into a problematic reliance on external validation? Here are nine signs that your self-esteem might be more dependent on others’ approval than you’d like to admit.

  1. Constantly Seeking Reassurance: If you find yourself repeatedly asking friends or family if you're doing okay or if they're happy with you, it might indicate a reliance on external approval for your self-worth.

  2. Overreaction to Criticism: Constructive criticism can sting, but if you find yourself deeply hurt or overly defensive about even mild feedback, it could be a sign that your self-esteem is tied up in what others think.

  3. Social Media Obsession: In today’s digital world, it's easy to fall into the trap of equating likes and follows with self-worth. If you're constantly checking for notifications or feeling down when your posts don’t get enough attention, it might be time to reassess your relationship with social media.

  4. People-Pleasing Behavior: Do you find it hard to say no? Are you always going out of your way to make others happy at your expense? People-pleasing can be a sign that you value others' opinions over your own well-being.

  5. Fear of Failure: It's normal to fear failure, but if the fear is primarily about disappointing others or looking bad in their eyes, it's a sign that external validation is driving your self-esteem.

  6. Difficulty Making Decisions: If you struggle to make decisions without consulting others or worry excessively about making the ‘wrong’ choice that others might judge, your self-esteem might be overly reliant on external approval.

  7. Changing Yourself for Others: Do you find yourself changing your opinions, appearance, or behavior based on who you’re with? While adaptability can be a strength, constantly morphing to fit others' expectations can indicate a shaky sense of self.

  8. Jealousy and Comparison: Feeling envious or constantly comparing yourself to others, especially in terms of their approval and accolades, can point to a need for external validation.

  9. Reluctance to Share Your True Self: If you’re holding back your true thoughts and feelings for fear of disapproval or rejection, it suggests that your self-esteem is intertwined with others' opinions.

Research Insights

Research in psychology suggests that while seeking external validation is a normal part of the human experience, an overdependence on it can lead to mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. A study published in the 'Journal of Youth and Adolescence' found a strong correlation between the need for external validation and lower self-esteem in teenagers.

Real-Life Application

Think about the celebrities who seemingly have it all but still struggle with self-esteem. Their experiences highlight that approval and admiration from others are no substitutes for genuine self-worth.

Cultivating Healthier Self-Esteem

Breaking free from the need for constant external validation isn’t easy, but it's crucial for developing healthier self-esteem. Start by recognizing your intrinsic value, independent of others' opinions. Engage in activities that make you feel good about yourself, not just ones that earn you praise. Practice self-compassion and remind yourself that it's okay to be imperfect.


If you see yourself in these signs, it's a wake-up call to start nurturing your self-esteem from within. Remember, your worth isn't determined by others' approval. It's a journey to shift from external validation to internal acceptance, but it's a profoundly rewarding one.


You will also like:

Woman's Journey Through Divorce and Rediscovery Divorce. It's a word that packs a punch, carrying with it the weight of lost dreams and the daunting…
Ever feel like you’re the go-to person when someone’s in a pinch? You might be grappling with what’s known as the ‘savior complex’. It’s that overwhelming…
Have you ever noticed how some men seem to have an innate drive to step up, protect, and provide, not just in dire circumstances but in everyday situations?…