Approval Addicts Lose Their Happiness


The symptoms of approval addiction are discouraging, but the true tragedy isn’t in how it affects lifestyle or choices, but where it takes the addict. Their desire is filled in a small way through an encouraging word, attention of loved ones, or perhaps a loving response to their frustration. But soon the they are looking for their next emotional fix.

A motivating factor of emotional dependence is a desire to be respected and liked. While this may not be true for everyone (while some Approval Addicts do want everyone to like them) it’s particularly strong with close friends, family, and especially their spouse. Those moments of approval fills the addicts heart with happiness so they dedicate themselves to doing anything to experience that emotion again.
The problem is approval addiction will in the end take away that emotional response instead of allowing it to grow.

As with most addictions this one causes the person to become enslaved instead of giving more freedom. Drug addicts are controlled by their drug of choice, alcoholics by what they drink, and acceptance junkies by the people who they must be loved by. In the end its the respect of others that they crave and feel paralyzed without, because it brings the feelings of happiness and self-confidence. But by enslaving ourselves to others we are led down a path to relational abuse and away from loving respect.

It doesn’t take long for people to realize that they have an inordinate amount of power over the approval addicts in their life. And even if they don’t try to take advantage of the situation, over time they begin using that influence to their own advantage. Sometimes this is done without even realizing it since the addict is constantly looking for new ways to get their acceptance, but in most cases the friend or loved ones unquenchable thirst for respect is too tempting.

It’s easy to blame the person taking advantage of this desire for acceptance but the blame should be placed with the addicts themselves. By making the love of others the most important thing in life they basically put a little handle on their back which allows them to be pushed or pulled in any direction. It becomes so easy to control those longing for acceptance that soon everyone whether consciously or subconsciously begins using them.

Over time this relational abuse begins to discourage the approval addicts heart. Their happiness comes from the love or respect of others but now instead of being treated with dignity, they are used by loved ones. This realization can either make the addiction worse (they must find more love or acceptance to cover the feelings or worthlessness) or lead to discouragement and depression.

While the responses of an addict are successful in gaining the respect desired short-term, in the long run it will make things much worse. So while the process may be painful the first step to become a recovering approval addict is taking the handle off.

Because of Who He is,

John Wilburn

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John Wilburn

Church planter, teacher, and disciple-maker in Barrouallie St. Vincent

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