I am a life-long affirmation addict. I am so addicted that I sacrifice who I am just to be who “they” want me to be in order to receive affirmation and applause. I behave well in an attempt to control the emotional responses of the other. If I am good at what I do; no one will ever be angry with me. If I am really, really, good; they might even applaud me or better yet; absolutely love me!
As much as I love praise and affirmation, I hate it when someone controls or manipulates me with it; when someone withholds attention or shames me for being who I am and then praises or thanks me excessively when I am finally who they want me to be; when I finally do life the way they want me to do it.
I care too much about what other people think. I want them to think I am nice; intelligent, fair and just, good looking, cool. If I cannot make them think those things about me; if they hate me; then life is not worth living. Its just like driving. I hate driving because I cannot control the other drivers. I try to drive perfectly. Surely if I am perfect in my driving no one will blare their horn at me, holler, flip me off, or tailgate; right?
There is a difference between working one’s tail off doing what one loves to do, doing the best job possible; and sucking up, knocking oneself out doing something one does or doesn’t like to do–just to receive the praise, affirmation, or reward from someone else.
Step 6 of the twelve steps says, “We are entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.” Melody Beattie adds, “We decide we are ready to take a risk, and let go of these outdated behaviors and attitudes (Codependent No More, Beattie, 1987).”
This affirmation addiction; this being who other people want me to be. These are outmoded ideas and behaviors.
“If we weren’t trying to control whether a person liked us, or his or her reaction to us, what would we do differently?… What haven’t we been letting ourselves do while hoping that self-denial would influence a particular situation or person? (Beattie,1990, The Language of Letting Go, p. 115).”