If you are anything like me (and a few million other people), you know exactly what is it like to obsess about an idea, person or event to an extent that it consumes your whole life. People often call you stubborn and look at you like a mad person.
You cannot control what you do or the desire you have to complete a project to the level of excellence it so rightfully deserves. Your mind works in a way that could be categorized as a mental disorder, but when used appropriately, it is almost like you possess a superpower.
Having an addictive personality is both a blessing and a curse. It means putting your whole heart into things; even if you get nothing in return. It means frequently changing your mind about things you once desired, when a new obsession falls in its place. The word “addiction” often gets associated with alcoholics and junkies in a very derogatory manner.
Most people do not understand the mental health aspect of addiction and it is rarely discussed. While having an addictive personality makes for more challenges in life, it does not necessarily mean that the person affected will turn into an alcoholic or drug addict. Addiction comes in all forms, not just substance-abuse-related problems.
I never fully understood why I did the things I did or why I always felt the need to take things further than everyone else. I would become overly sensitive when critiqued and overly confident when in power in a project.
Even at a young age, my parents found it very difficult to tell me no; once I got an idea in my head, I would not stop until I got what I wanted.
It was not until recently that I was court ordered to a treatment center for drinking to excess (surprise, surprise) when I realized I was not alone. Most of the people there were like me. We had gotten ourselves into the situation not out of spite or stupidity, like most of the population would assume, but out of addiction.
I learned that there are certain signs and common characteristics among people who possess addictive personalities, which make this condition a little easier to control. Being aware and internally truthful with yourself is the only way to not have a certain behavior control your life. Here's some of what it really means to have an addictive personality:
You either put your whole heart or none of it into things
There is no such thing as "in between" — I would either can an A or an F in a class. If I did not like a subject in school, I would cheat or not do it at all. Alternatively I would spend endless time on certain projects and not settle on anything less than perfection.
To this day, the work on which I focus must be 100 percent up to standards and reviewed a million times; this allows for procrastination to never be an option.
If you have an addictive personality, stress likely a huge factor in your life. Whether you're stressed, the project is not going your way or you know that you can do better, you are always wanting something more and never settling for less.
You need “it” now
Whatever “it” was at the time being, I had to have it. One time, I was feeling particularly lonely, so I went out and bought a hamster. As soon as the feeling of satisfaction meets your desire, you are quickly on to the next road of discovery.
This can lead to depression and anxiety. If you get what you want too quickly, it’s dissatisfying; if you have to wait long for something, you get anxious. This is especially true regarding intimacy issues.
You have to be in control
The more I lack knowledge about something, the more research I do to figure it out. Everything I do is strategically planned so I can manipulate the situation to the one being in control. If I feel the slightest bit of uncertainty, I usually disengage completely from the situation.
This might mean doing countless Internet searches to gain knowledge or even controlling how I you eat. Anything over which I have direct control may become more of an obsession than a hobby.
You are often labeled as stubborn
Being set in one's way is directly linked to having an addictive personality. If something means more to you than just a moral issue or friends could even characterize it as a bad habit, it may be time to re-evaluate whether it is something you really want.
Luckily, I was able to recognize these signs before getting into serious trouble and since then, I have been able to control my addictions. I have found enjoyment in activities like yoga and writing. I still cling to things that fill me with satisfaction, but I am more willing to re-adjust and re-evaluate whether or not the addiction is unhealthy or hurtful.
If any of the above criteria sounds familiar to you, it is import to figure out the triggers and not act out of emotion. I do not see this as a disability or weakness, but rather as an opportunity to make a difference. When you have your values in order, this superpower of addiction gives you strength and abundant amounts of energy, which will allow you to be a leader.
You are the first one who will find something you love and do it for the rest of your life. Happiness and contentment is an option, and like everything in life, being open-minded and honest with yourself is the best way to control emotions.
Photo Courtesy: We Heart It