What is affirmation dependency? It’s overly relying on external sources (e.g., persons or circumstances) for validation of one’s worth. It results from not deeply understanding what one’s worth truly is and where it stems from.
Excessively craving affirmation is in itself a sign of a poor sense of self-worth. And it’s especially problematic when we look outward for it. In looking outward we always risk emotional dependency. Moreover, it’s how we can get addicted to a person, especially to the wrong person. I address this phenomenon in both In Sheep’s Clothing and Character Disturbance.
Getting the Self-Perception Balance Right
We can care too much about what others think of us. But not caring enough about how others see us can be a problem, too. Character health is all about getting the balance right.
Grandiose narcissists don’t struggle with affirmation dependency. They don’t care what others think. As some have said, they’re already “legends in their own minds.” Moreover, they lack a sense of shame. So, they do shameless things, often without a second thought. Sometimes the attention and adulation they demand seems like a desperate need for validation. But that’s not the case. Grandiose narcissists don’t anxiously seek anything, really. Rather, they both expect and demand things. And what they typically expect and demand is not affirmation, but rather adulation and adoration. It’s your homage they want – an acknowledgment of their greatness. And if you deny them, you might just witness their narcissistic rage.
Self-esteem deficient neurotics crave affirmation. Accordingly, they can easily develop some affirmation dependency. And that makes them easy targets for ego massage artists. Some narcissists, like the amiable and amorous types, are expert ego massagers. They can read what you need and often know just how to provide it. But giving you what you crave doesn’t necessarily mean they care, however. Narcissists can only care about themselves. So, there’s an unholy method to their madness. And while they may want your attention and devotion, that doesn’t mean they can be devoted to you. Whatever you get from them is always predicated on you giving them what they expect from you.
I have more to say on getting the self-perception balance right on this week’s Character Matters podcast.
Knowing Your Worth
Discerning your true worth and where it comes from is crucial to emotional, psychological, and spiritual health. And it takes some folks a lifetime to get this task right. But it’s worth it. Nothing is more priceless than honestly knowing yourself and humbly appreciating your value. That’s because only then can you properly love yourself. And you can’t possibly love another well unless you how to love yourself. And once you know yourself and your worth you can better discern who’s truly capable of loving you.