The Addiction Nobody Discusses

The Oxford dictionary definition of addiction is: “The fact or condition of being addicted to a particular substance or activity, where ‘addicted’ means being physically and mentally dependent on a particular substance or activity.” When we think of addictions, we tend to consider things like drugs, alcohol, gambling, certain foods or sex. These are the most common addictions for which there are many groups to support people to break their addictive behaviours.

I always felt that I didn’t have any addictions and that sports and exercise were the only things I possibly may have been addicted to in my early twenties, because I needed it every day. If I missed my daily hit of exercise I would get grumpy, demanding and even controlling of situations. This obsessive behavior with exercise started when I was quite young and was mostly associated with playing competitive sports.

Throughout primary school, high school and even university, my competitiveness in sport was seen as healthy and not at all an addiction. It was considered to be helping me develop self confidence and to be beneficial for my studies as it would make me study harder to be better than others; also to feel good about myself when I got there.

In the last few years I have realized that being competitive was an addiction; it was unhealthy and it was harmful for my relationships with others as it affected my ability to be close, open and equal with others. I began to understand that there was something else underlying this competitiveness, which was another crippling addiction.

I say this was a crippling addiction now because it is not discussed in society. It is very hidden and therefore nobody ever suggested that it could be. In fact, I doubt that there are any support groups available for this type of addiction, but rather there are actually motivational groups available that feed this addiction without even realizing that they do.

You see in primary school and high school there is a lot of discussion about the harm of smoking, taking drugs, drinking too much alcohol and even having unsafe sex or random partners. We learn that these are things you don’t want to do, or get addicted to, and if you become addicted, you are often viewed as a failure by family, friends or society.

However, I would say the addiction I had was worse than a drug, gambling or alcohol addiction. I’m not suggesting that these are not terrible addictions; they can be, because they can ruin not only the person’s life and health, but break down family and work relationships, and destroy generations of families.

The addiction I am referring to is recognition; that is, being seen or identified for some particular characteristic, skill, ability or activity – in any way possible. This includes being a runner, a good speller, good looking, witty, rich, fantastic cook, favorite daughter or son, well dressed, or even a slow runner, terrible speller, ugly, stupid, poor, terrible cook or messy. The truth is that an addiction to ‘recognition’ can be for anything whatsoever, even being an alcoholic, drug addict or abusive partner.

The crippling nature of being addicted to recognition is not only the fact that there are so many things we can be recognized by, it’s that our whole life becomes an attempt to be seen, to be noticed, even to be categorised or put into a box as “the person who does this, or is like that.”

The need to be seen or recognized ruled my life, and I noticed there were people that I desperately needed to be seen by to fuel my need for recognition, such as my parents, a teacher, a popular person, my boss, or a leader of an organization or group, or anyone from the opposite sex.

The evil of needing to be recognised is that it is accepted in society as normal. Most people do it – in fact, society is built on it.

We end up living much of our life identified with a certain character or persona to the point that we are no longer our real selves at all. Instead, we become what we have been recognized by, trying to fit into certain criteria or categories that we have allocated in our mind. We shape, transform or change ourselves like a chameleon lizard changing its colours to hide in different environments.

As soon as we need to be seen or recognised for anything at all, we are leaving behind everything that we already are. We are saying to ourselves that we are not enough just being ourselves – that we need to be something else, or something more, to fit in.

I have started to expose any need for recognition by observing myself in certain situations, or with different people. I ask myself, do I change certain characteristics about me, the language I use, the tone in my voice, or the way I dress and what I am willing to do and say?

I discovered that I learnt to change myself from a very young age by watching others and seeing what made them happy or sad, and how I needed to be to fit in.

I learnt how to speak to certain adults, how I should sit at school, what to not talk about to avoid looking stupid, how to behave to make my parents happy, what clothes to wear to not get picked on, how to walk to not stand out and even how to eat, when to eat and what to eat, to fit in.

Understanding how much I have changed myself and where, I am now beginning to feel who I truly am. I can now discover and express me in full, how I want to dress, how I want to sit or walk, when and how I want to eat, what I really want to talk about and how I want to be in every part of my life, without the need to fit in and been seen or recognized by anyone else.

I see that it hurts me to change who I am to try and fit in or to make other people happy, which is impossible anyway, because they are mostly unhappy because they have not been themselves either, and are looking outside of themselves for any sign or comfort to feel better about themselves. So, in fact, by me being myself, I can inspire others to feel the answers are within and they too can let themselves out.

I am deeply appreciative of Serge Benhayon and Universal Medicine for sharing what it truly means to be me… and how it’s possible to live in a way that allows this in full.

by Danielle Pirera, 34 Goonellabah Australia

Further Reading:
Addicted To Guitar – Michael Serafin
Overcoming my Horse Addiction
From Recognition to True Love – one student’s unfolding

 

936 thoughts on “The Addiction Nobody Discusses

  1. Serge Benhayon presents three retreats a year and I was blessed to attend the first retreat in Vietnam this year. Even though not attending the other Retreats at Lennox Head (Australia) and in Frome (UK), I was well aware energetically in my body that there huge shifts in consciousness were (and are) happening. There is no getting away from the fact, that everything is energy and that it is felt all of the time, by everyone globally. Thankfully (although quite shocking as Danielle has written) this has further exposed the insidious nature of various subtle ways in which the need for recognition continues to play itself out – it is a very old addiction which constantly feeds the spirit to be doggedly hanging onto wanting to be in supremacy and individuality over love rather than embracing brotherhood in full. A consistent re-claiming and living from being a Son of God rather than a son of man, to enjoy and appreciate! Thank you Danielle, I am deeply inspired to go deeper.

  2. Being identified with a certain persona or way of being is really a way that we choose to hold ourselves back, to hide our beauty and to try and hide the fact that we are from heaven. The more we claim our ability and responsibility to reflect heaven to earth the less likely we are to cover it up with a fake way of being.

  3. We all know the major addiction like drugs and alcohol, but as you have mentioned there are also some very subtle addictions that are equally as addictive ‘In the last few years I have realized that being competitive was an addiction; it was unhealthy and it was harmful for my relationships with others as it affected my ability to be close, open and equal with others.’ I have also had a similar experience, under the illusion of being a team player, it was safe to be friends with the rest of the team because it was always on a superficial level.

  4. Danielle I can so relate to being addicted to recognition. I can go back and reflect on my life and it’s like for a lot of my choices it was about being recognised and accepted. I recall as a teenager dressing so way out, it was all about standing out, which I did. But the strange thing is that even though I got want I wanted it felt so uncomfortable, because what I wasn’t being was myself. I can see this now as I look back and the value here is that I can make new choices from now on.

  5. The addiction to recognition is so ingrained. I imagine that this addiction has hugely gone from my life but only an hour ago I felt the addictive pang of having been deprived of recognition for ‘doing a good job’ by someone snapping up the work that I am a part of and doing it! Good to see and acknowledge.

  6. This is an addiction that almost everyone has. I know this is a broad sweeping statement but the fact is if it were not true we would have brotherhood on earth rather individuals competing for attention, recognition and acceptance in every which way, desperately trying to hold on to their individuality. .

  7. Love this Danielle – no more exhaustion, comparison or recognition in any form as we stop searching outside of ourselves for true answers and choose to re-connect with our bodies once more – the beginning of our path of return to our innate Divine Essence within. This reflection is an inspiration to others.
    “So, in fact, by me being myself, I can inspire others to feel the answers are within and they too can let themselves out”.

  8. Danielle, you have actually nailed why this addiction of ‘recognition’ is not recognised and spoken about because its dynamic is one that forms the very basis of the way we relate in our society – in competition and comparison: ‘I say this was a crippling addiction now because it is not discussed in society. It is very hidden and therefore nobody ever suggested that it could be. In fact, I doubt that there are any support groups available for this type of addiction, but rather there are actually motivational groups available that feed this addiction without even realizing that they do.’ At some level we do know it but have buried this awareness.

  9. You make some excellent points Danielle. Recognition and the competition and comparison this perpetuates is what continually separates and divides us, leading us to believe that we are not equal and not here to work together for the same purpose.

  10. Danielle you bring up some really great points in your blog, this one particularly jumped out at me ‘The evil of needing to be recognised is that it is accepted in society as normal. Most people do it – in fact, society is built on it.’ How devastating is it to humanity to have built our whole society on recognition not only accepting that it is ok, but encouraging recognition as a whole. The world would be a very different place if we realised that recognition encourages individualism and separatism.

  11. So true Danielle, this is an addiction of plague proportions, afflicting almost every one of us in varying degrees. Thanks for outlining the ways you’ve seen it playing out in your own life, I can relate to many of them.

  12. Recognition is definitely an insatiable addiction that shadows us all and I had never considered it in that way before. Great blog Danielle.

  13. This is a great addiction to expose Danielle. Recognition has a huge hold on humanity precisely because we don’t even realise we have the addiction in the first place. Your blog powerfully breaks this down.

  14. The crippling nature of recognition is a huge thing Danielle! It immediately means that we are out of true relationship with another, as it will mean that we will do anything to come out ‘seen’ and therefore this will damage our relationship to the ‘other’ and want to be better, more clever, more beautiful, instead of being ourselves and appreciating that and the wonders that the other brings . . . in equality. The recognition thing distorts how we relate to and value ourselves. As you say, ‘The crippling nature of being addicted to recognition is not only the fact that there are so many things we can be recognized by, it’s that our whole life becomes an attempt to be seen, to be noticed, even to be categorised or put into a box as “the person who does this, or is like that.”’

  15. Seeking recognition as an addiction is a great point. Whether it is worse than the other addictions that you mention I am not sure, for me any addiction feels equally harming and leads to our undoing.

  16. It is so true, we don’t talk about this addiction to seeking recognition and yet it pervades so much of society. Anxiety is increasing in under 13’s at a confusing rate, confusing until perhaps we look at this aspect. Are children looking for approval and recognition because it has been their fuel for much of their early life? As the cuteness wears off and the supply starts drying up, the addiction needs to be fed somehow, hence the anxiety of needing to measure up and to stand out. I don’t know, but it seems like there could be a connection.

  17. You are spot on Danielle but people are starting to get wise to it – the rise in poor mental health and even suicide is getting tough questions answered. I just hope we have the grace to talk about it directly so we can champion who we are above what we do and the recognition that brings.

  18. A very powerful and profound piece that dissects and exposes the evil of recognition, and how we as a society falsely believe that it is through recognition we will discover who we are. Yet whenever we give ourselves over to being led by the need for recognition we have instantly diminished who we are, forgoing all that we already are in essence, our connection to ourselves. Recognition is absolutely an addiction as it never truly fulfils what we seek, only momentary fleeting sprinkles of happiness, therefore the drive for seeking, wanting and needing more remains and the vicious cycle continues, keeping us reduced, thinking who we are what we are being recognised for.

  19. The addition of seeking recognition is definitely one that is hardly ever discussed. I am so glad you are going there, exposing one of the most sinister additions we have in society. In the past year I have been recognising my addition to recognition and learning to let this go. I too never thought I was addicted to anything but now, I can put my hands up for being addicted to recognition, I wouldn’t have acknowledge this as an addition until I read your blog. Brilliant blog Danielle.

  20. “The crippling nature of being addicted to recognition” Thank you Danielle for exposing the need and drive for recognition for what we do as a poison in our body. It is an addiction that is fostered and encouraged from when we are young and then we infect our children with the same addiction until we come to realise the harm it is doing to us all.

  21. ‘We shape, transform or change ourselves like a chameleon lizard changing its colours to hide in different environments.’ When I started to be honest about myself and my life of fitting in, I started to feel when I tried to change myself, the pressure I have to put on my body to be able to be not myself.It has caused me a lot of headaches, migraines and anxiousness as hiding my true self is not what my life is about, it is about being me in full, bringing my qualities to the fore to inspire others to do so too and work together to make it to a whole.

  22. The socially accepted evils and addictions can be the ones hardest to recognise and break. Competition and recognition are a cornerstone of our society so what chance do we have in breaking these behaviours? It is only when we listen to ourselves and trust ourselves that we can do what is true for us. I never ever liked the feeling of competition yet I played that game for many years. Going against the grain of society has its challenges but as we listen to ourselves more and more the choice becomes very clear.

  23. ‘The evil of needing to be recognised is that it is accepted in society as normal. Most people do it – in fact, society is built on it.’ Absolutely Danielle and we are encouraged to seek recognition from babies when we soon learn that we can get a response from our carers with certain behaviours – either positive or negative. Thus the journey away from our true selves starts very young and is then constantly reinforced by everyone around us. It is great to be talking about this and becoming more aware of the situations where we seek recognition, for example am I happy to do a good job if no-one else realises? I feel that the more I am able to appreciate myself in all my glorious aspects the less I will be constantly looking to others for recognition.

  24. I used to joke about the fact that I was like a chameleon changing my colours to fit in with whoever I happened to be with. I can now feel the deep sadness that lies behind this behaviour and it is only by being willing to lovingly explore the reasons for it that I have started to let go and find a steadiness that allows me to just be me whoever I am with.

  25. Dare we admit that the ‘addiction to recognition’ is perhaps the biggest driver of all? Our world as it is, runs on the stuff, and values it so very highly, often in complete disregard of expense to the person and/or others who are trodden underfoot in the process of attainment…

  26. This addiction indeed runs so deep, that every awareness we bring to it is golden Danielle – for with each layer uncovered, we realise that such drivers do not reflect our true nature whatsoever, but rather, seek to keep us from truly unifying with each other.

  27. “The evil of needing to be recognised is that it is accepted in society as normal. Most people do it – in fact, society is built on it.” I have had this addiction for all of my life it would seem – for it only to be recognised once I became a student of Universal Medicine. Not accepting, loving and appreciating ourselves for who we truly are leads to the wanting recognition and affirmations from the outside world. When we feel true in our own skin this need can drop away.

  28. I love what you have exposed that in trying to be what we are not we are hurting ourselves whilst denying another the opportunity to realize there is another way to be. So many people do the chameleon thing to either feel comfortable in a situation or be seen in a certain light but the beauty in just being and expressing who you are far outweighs anything we believe we obtain when we are not.

  29. ‘I ask myself, do I change certain characteristics about me, the language I use, the tone in my voice, or the way I dress and what I am willing to do and say?’ This is brilliant and really simple to do, clock how we are with different people, have we changed to fit in? In my case I often do, fitting in and adapting myself to different settings was something I even prided myself in. There are so many interactions we have with others throughout the day, how many of those am I really me?

  30. It is such a great realisation that not only being very good at something attracts recognition, equally being a failure at something or acting less attracts recognition and does get used in this way.

  31. ‘As soon as we need to be seen or recognised for anything at all, we are leaving behind everything that we already are.’ The need to fit into society is always very strong yet it often means sacrificing who we really are. What if we were to remain true to ourselves and allow the rest of society to realise that we don’t need to fit in, that there is nothing better than being who we are.

  32. An addiction is simply the things we do in order not to feel the emptiness within ourselves as a result of not living in full appreciation of who we truly are and the many blessings we are constantly given.

  33. The thing is, we are already complete when we come into this world and there is a natural confidence by just being who we are. But the world is very much about that we have to become somebody, so we get taught from little that we do not know and need to be formed into something and with that the perpetual cycle of recognition is set lose to prove ourselves that we are worth something. Thank you Danielle to bring this to our awareness.

  34. It is by far the saddest reality of our world that we grow up learning that to be seen, be recognized is the major player in why and how we live life, when it is actually the greatest destroyer, for it constantly tugs us away from the very true sensitive centre inside, that if consistently chosen, complete debunks recognition.

  35. Yes we do find being recognised such a potent drug. i know i certainly enjoyed feeling the pleasure of it, and how it gave me enough of a ‘hit’ to last me until the effect wore off and i was busy on my next quest for recognition. I was never satisfied for long, but i kept seeking it regardless.

  36. Seeking something that we cant have sustainably and therefore need to constantly get from others isn’t a very wise way to live. i am so glad I have found that my true contentment in life is found within me, and when i focus on simply feeling me, and feeling what is going on within my body and mind, i don’t have to worry about whether others give me recognition or not- i fill up my own tank so to speak!

  37. Until reading your blog Danielle I never ever considered that the seeking of recognition and identification were addictive behaviours, but now I understand how they most definitely are. And not only are they addictive but they keep us trapped in our own little world of individuality thus missing out on the love, support and joy which come from living in equality with the rest of mankind.

  38. Both hands up here too for a lifetime of recognition addiction! What a great article in terms of pointing out to us that addiction runs far deeper than we know, and can play out in ways we would never suspect: in – as Danielle points out – activities and behaviours that far from fit the typical ‘addiction’ bill. Everything we do in life is worthy of examination and reflection… not only recognised problem areas.

  39. Recognition is so insidious as it underpins so many pursuits and is in fact actively championed by the world, so it never stops unless we can begin to see how much it hurts us as you’ve done here Danielle. For me it’s still something I am unpicking and in fact the more I do, the more real and honest I can be as me.

  40. “As soon as we need to be seen or recognised for anything at all, we are leaving behind everything that we already are. We are saying to ourselves that we are not enough just being ourselves – that we need to be something else, or something more, to fit in.” I so recognise this still within myself – but at least I am now aware of having this behaviour and seeing it for what it is. For years I allowed it to cripple me- if I didn’t get that acknowledgement or recognition. This addiction is not recognised in society at large today – yet how many of us are constantly trying to ‘fit in’ to a society that is actually not fit for purpose?

  41. Thank you Danielle for exposing in full the ‘recognition’ addiction we have come to accept as normal in our society. Your own journey to let go of this addiction is inspiring to read about and reminds us of the power of love that supports us to drop any harming or damaging behaviours that hold us back from being our beautiful and true selves.

  42. Life is so simple – everything comes from two sources. One is who we are at essence and contains love and one does not. The not love source has many flavours but they are loveless. Recognition is one such no love flavour as is competition, being good, being bad, angry, nice and thousands of others – they are all different aspects of us expressing who we are not.

    1. Sometimes we even compete to say my not love is better or worse than your not love, but still it is not love!

      1. I love what you are pointing out here Nicola, this is exactly what we have accepted life to be, a way of living where we compare ourselves how good or bad we are or have it, but we are all moving in the same bubble. A bubble where true love is not the marker but an interpretation of love that fits our own desires.

  43. What you describe here Danielle is so very important to bring to the fore, because, as you say it is actually something that is encouraged in this world and deemed normal. But this way of living will always keep us in separation to ourself and thus to others as we will always be missing ourself having to please the outside world with the many characters we play.

  44. ‘The addiction I am referring to is recognition; that is, being seen or identified for some particular characteristic, skill, ability or activity – in any way possible’. I totally agree with your previous paragraph Danielle where you say that this addiction is worse than alcohol and smoking etc. as it is the grand-dadddy of addictions which underlies these other addictions which come after it. If we weren’t out for recognition and not in competition with each other we would know and live in love . . . and then we would not need alcohol r smoking to numb us down from the pain of not living in this love.

  45. Exposing the need for recognition as the addiction it is truly explains what is underneath what we deem today to be the addictions people choose. For no matter how hard we try to be recognized and accepted in society, it very rarely actually transpires that we feel confident and accepted. Hence we look for something to take the edge of feeling alone. This is where our behaviors and addictions of choice become our crutch in life.

  46. Yes, competition is everywhere. I was thinking about the way we drive our cars, always wanting to get ahead of another, or be the first off from the traffic lights. Then the road rage that spews out from small incidents whilst driving is quite shocking, yet it is something we have labelled and are now accustomed to, and even laugh off. This is just one aspect of how damaging competition is in our lives.

  47. Addiction can be very insidious and crippling, and comes in many guises, ‘The addiction I am referring to is recognition; that is, being seen or identified for some particular characteristic, skill, ability or activity – in any way possible. This includes being a runner, a good speller, good looking, witty, rich, fantastic cook,’ and the list goes on and on.

  48. Understanding why we have adopted certain addictions can support us to heal. There are many forms of addiction but the energy they operate in is the same. Once we understand the root cause of our addiction(s) and are willing to address them and heal, the energy of addiction then dissipates and no longer has a hold on us.

  49. Competition is heralded in society as something healthy, something to be chased after, to be embraced, to without question be part of life. But I challenge that (and have since I was a child). Competition puts person agains person, team against team, town against town. There is a winner, and a loser, or often many losers. Competition is completely unnecessary as success in life is never just there for the one, it is there for all.

  50. Some addictions are easy to spot and others are almost hidden, ‘As soon as we need to be seen or recognised for anything at all, we are leaving behind everything that we already are. We are saying to ourselves that we are not enough just being ourselves – that we need to be something else, or something more, to fit in.’

  51. Yes it is a societal norm to be recognised and to want to be recognised. The evil of this is when we find out what society wants us to be, we would become that to fit in and get recognition. There is no need to berate ourselves for this, but knowing this is what we have bought into, we can be honest how this need has made us feel. For myself, I always feel when I am upholding a certain image to be someone that society expects me to be, I am just a bit away from the closeness that I have with myself. This can include being very “professional” and I lose the complete freedom I feel when I do not have to put up this persona, and I can still be professional but this does not come from a set of rules or things I do or not do, but it is through the quality of my presence that it could be felt.

    1. Well said Adele – the tiniest hint of the persona being in place to be acceptable to others or for recognition of the picture we are portraying is limiting us to live lesser and that is the quality of the reflection that we bring to others. The true quality of our presence is the game-changer.

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