Itís true that most of us enjoy being the center of attention and knowing that people take an interest in us. However, when youíre an alcoholic, the attention seeking behavior can transform into a coping mechanism and a means to manipulate people.
In my case, the attention seeking behavior took the form of bragging about achievements and personal skills. Iíve always despised my former manager and thought I was better than him in every possible way, mostly because neither my colleagues nor I believed he deserved the job. This is why I never lost one opportunity to spread false rumors just to stir up a conflict between my manager and the other members of the staff.
I sought attention to feel valuable
Although I knew it was wrong to create a tense atmosphere at the office, the truth is I felt I would lose everything if I stopped. Since everyone at work considered Ė or at least I thought they did Ė that I deserved the promotion instead of my boss, I felt that if I didnít fuel this passive conflict between the two of us, then everyone will ignore me altogether. Now I know that the problem was not my manager, but rather my low self-esteem.
I needed my colleagues to take constant interest in me in order to feel like a valuable employee. My flawed logic dictated that my worth as a person was directly correlated with the evaluation of the people around me. Now I understand that all my actions were a form of emotional immaturity.
Attention seeking can follow you into recovery
While it is true that as an addict youíre very likely to have a low self-esteem and a low self-worth, it doesnít automatically mean you canít correct this character flaw. In fact, one of the roles of recovery is to help you identify your flaws and find the most suitable ways to address them.
If you put in an extra effort to draw the attention of loved ones and the staff during treatment, then youíre not approaching recovery correctly. Unless the psychological need for constant reassurance is dealt with, you risk relapsing.
Attention seeking is an ineffective coping strategy
As long as you focus all your energy on grabbing peopleís attention you will miss out on numerous other valuable tools that are in fact better and more efficient coping mechanisms. For me, the biggest challenge was to view myself as a valuable person without the approval or the evaluation of my peers.
It took at least one year to boost my self-esteem and overcome the need for attention. I started small, by setting goals I could actually achieve. Then again, itís the small successes in the beginning that lead to the greater success later on. Never forget that escaping alcohol addiction counts as an enormous achievement.
If you canít manage to overcome your personal flaws by yourself, then donít forget that you could get professional help. Undergoing therapy for instance can prove quite beneficial for letting go of your attention seeking behavior and finding more effective coping mechanisms that can help you pull through.