Updated: Apr 1, 2021
My name is Marissa and I am a recovering praise-addict.
The thing about addiction is that it can take a while to admit you have a problem. I was just busy being a good person, right? Surely there are worse addictions to have?
I'm not convinced.
All addictions speak to the need for something to be fulfilled.
When I danced for other people I found that I could often generate praise, I would take any opportunity I could to perform – school assemblies, family gatherings, unpaid club work. The positive attention was addictive and would serve as a crutch for much of my life. Off-stage it was the academic achievements, certificate hoarding, charity work, care work - anything that made me feel needed, important, indispensable.
This also meant that I could often be obedient to the point of submission.
Constantly seeking praise means limiting yourself, not speaking up for fear of being disliked, not challenging something to avoid conflict.
You're always craving the next fix.
When it's not fulfilled, you seek it else where. If it is fulfilled, it's only temporary.
Praise addiction sends your power outside of you. It makes the source of your satisfaction inconsistent and unreliable. It also places pressure on others to fulfil your need, creating a heavy and unhealthy expectation.
In any type of relationship it can manifest as self-sacrificing, martyrdom. You are repeatedly feeding an insatiable need.
So how do we break the habit?
Awareness is the first step.
Am I being good to do good?
Am I being good to feel good?
If you are 'being good', for goodness, sake make sure it's for the right reason and ask yourself:
What is my motivation?
It is possible to start rehabilitating ourselves. Praise addiction is a search for reassurance, being loved, mattering - all things we deserve and can create for ourselves. It takes some practice but it is possible.
What need are you trying to fulfil and how can you do it in a healthy, nurturing way with no side effects?
Our worth is not dependent on the praise of others and we need to reinforce this message regularly.
Time for the high praise indeed. Your own.
Wishing Only Love.