“If you are an approval addict, your behaviour is as easy to control as that of any other junkie. All a manipulator need do is a simple two-step process: Give you what you crave, and then threaten to take it away. Every drug dealer in the world plays this game.”
-Harriet B. Braiker
I don’t know if that quote resonates with you, but it makes sense.
Deeply ingrained within all approval addicts — or addicts in general — is the lack of a sense of self. A lack of understanding of the self always leads us to believe that external approval and validation are essential to holding our identity together.
Have you ever wondered why someone as sweet and giving as you always end up in relationships (romantic, friendship, business.) with people who don’t understand or appreciate all you do for them?
And when things don’t go the way we want them to and that relationship fails to provide us with the feedback that we are “doing enough” or “accomplished enough” or “good enough”, why do we turn to external methods to preoccupy that discomfort?
Approval addiction is a layered disease, and we struggle with it knowing fully that we should stop focusing on the compulsion to please others. It makes us feel as though we need to be doing something (regardless of the negative consequences that may occur), doing this something again despite knowing full well that we should stop and seeking that something whenever we are not getting what we ‘really’ need (even when that need has nothing to do with this something). Wow, that’s a lot of word vomit.
We crave addictive behaviour because it relieves the emptiness within us.
The “disease to please” or approval addiction is at the heart of and is a connection to all other addictive behaviours.
My addiction to disordered eating and drinking was always my attempt to fill the void where my self-awareness should have been. If I could look, act and “be” someone people liked and approved of, I was on the right track, and all was right and good in my world.
But as the saying goes, “you can please some of the people all of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time.”
And you also can’t rely on others to validate or make you feel like you are “enough”. They will never be able to do it full-time, and at some point, you will realise that you need to find this from within.
When the time comes, if you are not equipped to pick yourself up and be your best friend, you will return to that “something” you’ve always done and, in return, get that nothing you always get.
Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
Only an inner experience of self-esteem and self-awareness can provide support for any external validation to be received from a healthy and balanced relationship. You don’t owe anyone anything more than you will ever owe yourself. And in this day and age of everyone communicating that they want to be more authentic and expect total authenticity from others, it is hard to tell if people are their ‘true’ selves or if their actions about just another attempt at pleasing others.
On any given day and with any given action we take, at best, we can hope to please one out of three people — possibly less. Given that statistic, it is safe to say that placing our happiness and self of worth in the hands of others gives us worse odds than winning the lottery. Okay, maybe better odds, but it’s a gamble nonetheless.
If you want any chance at inner peace in this life, you must learn what makes you honestly and sincerely happy.Approval addiction is a layered disease, and we struggle with it knowing we should stop focusing on the compulsion to please others. Click To Tweet
I can say this with complete confidence because for most of my life, I placed that burden on others and the consequences of that led me to battle multiple eating disorders and the belief that I needed to control myself and my life with counterintuitive habits such as binge eating and drinking.
I’m not suggesting that everything was my fault. Things happened, and the experiences I had throughout my life were real, and they made me believe and feel the way I did. None of us can go backwards, including continuing to live in the past. What’s done is done. Make today good, and the past will heal itself.
The one truth I know is this: You cannot rely on anybody else to fix you or to make your life happy and complete because when you live this way, you give yourself away. And as a result, you will always search for the next “something” to validate your life.