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Addiction: An Attempt to Get Enough

Aug 17, 2007
You can't get enough of something if it isn't what you really need. This statement attributed to philosopher Eric Hoffer, is the basis of understanding all addictive behavior.

If you need something (perhaps rest), but think that you should not need it, you may stumble upon something that makes you feel better temporarily (perhaps coffee) and think that is a solution to your problem. However, no matter how much coffee you drink in an attempt to feel better, it only masks your exhaustion instead of providing the rest you really need.

Eventually, you get so accustomed to having large amounts of caffeine in your body that you need it to feel normal. No matter how much you have, it doesn't feel like enough, because you don't really need coffee, you need rest.

Everyone has similar basic physical needs, but our emotional needs are very diverse. An emotional need is something you MUST have for you to BE YOUR BEST. When I ask people to choose their top ten needs from a list of over 200 possibilities, no two people make the same choices. The more you know about what you really need, the more likely you are to be successful and happy.

Misidentified emotional needs lead to addictions too. If you did not grow up in an emotionally literate family, you may never have correctly identified your emotional needs. You learned to do whatever was normal in your particular family and if that happened to coincide with what you needed, great. If it didn't, it was just too bad.

In fact, you may now find yourself repeating uncomfortable behavior patterns that seem to be a good idea when you were a child, but now cause you repeated problems.

If you learned to wait to be noticed and to be nice to others instead of asking for the recognition you needed when you were a child, you may still be doing the same thing now. But now you may be angry that others get more rewards than you do because they call attention to themselves, and you don't.

Procrastination, repeatedly saying yes when you want to say no, and getting into relationships that hurt you are other examples of behaviors that are misguided attempts to get what you need.

Addictions to physical substances like alcohol, drugs and tobacco also start as attempts to get what you need. Unfortunately, the craving that develops from the use of these substances becomes a new problem that may be very challenging to solve.

Even when the addiction is treated, if the underlying needs are not addressed, those unmet needs will still cause distress. It is worth your time to understand your own needs and find effective ways to manage them.

When you do identify and accept your most important emotional needs, you can consciously arrange your life so those needs are regularly filled, giving you the vitality that comes from being your very best self.
About the Author
Communicate skillfully about sensitive subjects in business situations. Have the challenging conversations that lead to cooperation and success. http://www.DareToSayIt.com/blog
Laurie Weiss, Ph.D. is a Master Certified Coach and communication expert. Dr. Weiss has spent 35 years helping clients resolve conflict in business and personal relationships. Email feedback@laurieweiss.com
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