People who never get the recognition they crave often display these 7 subtle behaviors

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When I was younger, I was obsessed with validation.

I felt that my sense of worth was directly tied to just how much recognition I received, which meant that I was always on top of my academic game, played the role of the perfect daughter, and developed strong people-pleasing tendencies.

It’s taken me years to untangle the mess I’ve gotten myself into, and I’m happy I can finally say that I no longer thirst after recognition like someone lost in the Sahara desert.

Want to know my secret?

I realized that no matter how hard you try, you can never get the validation you want.

Why?

Because it ultimately has to come from inside you.

Here are the 7 subtle behaviors people who never get the recognition they crave often display.

1) They obsess over external accomplishment

Competitions, promotions, awards, follower count, whatever it is, validation-seeking behavior is tied to external accomplishment.

It makes sense when you think about it. The more things you can brag about, the easier it is to feel seen.

“Hey, look! Twenty thousand people follow me! I won first place! I’m the employee of the month! I matter!”

I used to be the exact same. Back when my whole life revolved around academic success, I studied until late at night and tried my best to bag all the competitions I could just so my teachers could rave about me and my parents would feel proud.

Did all this accomplishment make me truly happy, though?

Of course not. I was constantly tired. I felt under so much pressure I basically worried 24/7. And no matter how hard I tried, the recognition I received was simply never enough.

I wanted more.

That was before I realized the only way to get out of the cycle was to completely break it. It was to minimize my need for validation to the point when other people’s opinions of me no longer determined the course of my life.

2) They suck up to authorities

I used to be the teacher’s pet.

Hermione Granger may be funny and cute in the movies, but if you meet one in real life, she’s probably going to annoy the hell out of you.

That was me. Answering all my teachers’ questions, trying to make them like me, putting in extra effort just to be noticed – a classic case of sucking up to authorities if I’ve ever seen one.

To a certain point, it is quite understandable why some students do this. If you love the academic environment, it’s natural to admire the people who teach you everything they know and guide you through the academic journey.

However, this kind of behavior can also easily get out of hand.

It could lead to situations where you don’t let anyone else speak, annoying both the teacher and the whole class. It could mean you betray your moral principles just to make your boss like you.  

And let me tell you right now that no amount of recognition is worth going against who you are.

3) They jump from one relationship to the next

I’ve met way too many people who don’t even take a deep breath between relationships and immediately jump into the next one just to escape singledom.

Does everyone who craves recognition do this?

No.

But is it a common enough behavior?

Absolutely.

Serial monogamy can often be connected to validation-seeking behavior, however, it is important to keep in mind it can also signal some other deep issues. As the doctor of psychology, Annie Tanasugarn, PhD, CCTSA, says:

“Because we are hardwired for connection, we turn to others for validation, belonging, and a sense of connection. Yet, when there is a pathological fear of being alone or without a romantic relationship, this fear is often based on core wounds…”

If you often crave romantic recognition, it may be due to having an insecure attachment style, unhealed wounds from childhood, and more.

Do remember that you’re not alone in this and that it is absolutely possible to create a sense of security within yourself. I know because I’ve been through it myself and made it out.

4) They may fall prey to envy

If you have low self-esteem and crave external recognition, it makes complete sense that you may also find it easy to feel envious of people who seem to be doing “better” than you.

From long social media scrolling sessions to feeling a sense of resentment at one’s friends’ accomplishments, envy can manifest in different ways, none of which are very conducive to healthy and supportive relationships.

However, if there’s one thing you should know, it’s that it’s important to recognize you do have these feelings and to nurture a sense of self-compassion rather than shame or self-loathing.

You can’t hate yourself into a better place. That’s just a fact.

What you can do, though, is to recognize and name your feelings, unpack where they are coming from, and work on your sense of self-love and confidence.

5) They respond poorly to criticism

When you base your sense of self-worth on other people’s perception of you, you may come across one major issue: every piece of criticism shatters you.

If someone says they don’t like what you said in your previous conversation, you may view it as an attack on who you are, no matter how tiny the concern.

The result?

You will either spiral into a whirlpool of self-hatred or you’ll defend yourself tooth and nail so that you don’t have to admit to yourself you have made a mistake.

None are ideal.

The truth is that your behavior doesn’t always have to reflect your sense of self. We all make mistakes. We all occasionally go against our values and then regret it.

What matters is that we apologize and learn from it. Drowning in self-loathing or refusing to accept any kind of criticism isn’t the answer.

6) They exhibit attention-seeking behavior

Another behavior people who never get the recognition they crave display is that they often try to be the center of attention – sometimes to their own detriment.

From bragging and boasting at parties to monopolizing the conversation or picking fights for no reason other than to be seen and noticed, attention-seeking behavior rarely works.

This is because the kind of attention you receive is most likely not the sort you’d like – that is, people may feel annoyed or frustrated rather than happy or impressed – which means you’re just sabotaging your relationship with others in order to get a bit of an ego boost (which doesn’t come).

It’s always better to be your authentic self than to fight for everyone’s attention.

If you have nothing to say, remain quiet. If you see an opportunity to steal the spotlight, consider whether you should really go for it or let someone else have it for once.

This isn’t to say you can’t ever be the center of attention, of course, but do aim for balance and moderation.

7) They betray their sense of self just to be liked

What all the points above boil down to is this: people who never get the recognition they crave tend to go against their inherent sense of self just to feel validated by others.

What they often don’t realize is that no matter how much attention people pay them or how many awards they win, the validation will never be enough.

Not only that but it will be essentially given to someone they’re not, someone who only tries to please and impress, someone who bends themselves backwards just to feel seen.

It is pretty ironic that it is when we’re at our most authentic and relaxed that we truly connect with others on a deep level and have our experiences and feelings validated by them.

You don’t need other people to recognize you for who you are. That process needs to happen within yourself.

And the moment you learn to validate yourself…

That’s when you can finally show up as who you truly are.

Mia Zhang

Mia Zhang blends Eastern and Western perspectives in her approach to self-improvement. Her writing explores the intersection of cultural identity and personal growth. Mia encourages readers to embrace their unique backgrounds as a source of strength and inspiration in their life journeys.

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