Are You A Praise Junkie?
Likes and views and verbal praise only gets us so far. They give us that quick dopamine hit that eventually fades. For some of us, that hit is addictive so we work harder to score more of that feel-good external admiration, almost to the point of burn out, especially in our careers. According to Rachael Todd, the founder of Return To Flow, a coaching service for overworked and burnt out professionals, this dependence on regular "hits" of praise can actually do more harm than good if it's your only source of self-worth. "It's normal to want praise and to enjoy compliments, but it becomes unhealthy (and enters praise junkie territory) when someone is dependent on a constant stream of admiration to feel good about themselves," says Todd. Here, we chat with her about how we can look beyond the praise to find greater value within.
How would you define "praise junkie"?
Todd: A praise junkie is someone who is always seeking attention for their efforts and doesn't know how to feel good about themselves without receiving external approval. They tend to measure their self worth based on metrics and labels like their job title, what college they went to, how much money they make, how many followers/likes they have on social media, etc. These qualities can show up in work settings, and contribute to overworking and burnout because people push themselves to unhealthy levels in order to receive attention and praise from their bosses and coworkers.
How do you know if you are a praise junkie?
Todd: If receiving praise gives you a quick high that only leaves you wanting more. You are never satisfied with how much praise you have received. You are always chasing more. If not receiving praise makes you feel uneasy. You question or doubt yourself. You wonder what you did wrong. You push yourself harder to ensure you get praise the next time. You people-please and bend over backwards to do what other people want to ensure you get praise. You are motivated to do things only because you want to receive attention or compliments (not because you genuinely enjoy doing it).How does self worth play into this need for constant praise?
Todd: A praise junkie's self worth constantly wobbles. You feel up when other people tell you good things about yourself and feel down when you aren't getting enough attention, recognition, or praise. When you are dependent on the recognition of others for having a certain job title or getting a promotion or doing well on a work task, you will push yourself too much to obtain those things and burn yourself out in the process.
What are some hacks for breaking the cycle and validating from within?
- Embrace your uniqueness: Rather than conforming to what we think the masses will like as a way of getting love and validation, we should own our unique gifts. Everyone has a role to play in this world and every role is vital. So we should all embrace ours.
- Own your value, even if others can't see it: Not everyone will know or understand your unique worth. It can be really tempting to bend yourself in every which way to try to get them to approve of you and see your worth. Instead, challenge yourself to forgive the ignorant few who, for whatever reason, aren't able to see how amazing you truly are and own your value regardless.
- Give yourself the praise you desire: It's easy to accept the words of others (praise or criticism) as the absolute truth. We often think that if we get enough compliments and recognition from others by accomplishing all the right things, then we'll finally feel happy and whole. But the opposite is actually true. To get off the rollercoaster ride of wavering worthiness, we need to stop depending on the approval of others and give ourselves a steady stream of love and acceptance.
Theresa Gonzalez is a content creator based in San Francisco and the author of Sunday Sews. She's a lover of all things design and spends most of her days momming her little one Matilda.