The Praise Drug
The Path to Recovery
This program has only four steps, but think of it this way: If they had 12-step programs for praise addicts, people at the meetings would undoubtedly praise one another for avoiding praise. Madness! I believe the truncated program below is a wiser course of action.
Step #1: Admit that you have a praise problem. The first time Sarah consulted me, I asked her to describe herself in one word. I was shocked when she coolly replied, "Dead." The vibrancy she radiated was part of her accolade-seeking act, fueled by the brief highs she got from her binges. To change her pattern, Sarah had to admit that praise had never helped her feel whole or content, only giddy. This was the step that allowed her recovery to begin. If you're a praise addict, take it.
Step #2: Don't feed the need. Like food addiction, praise addiction is complex because it's impossible to simply eliminate your drug of choice. Some amount of narcissistic supply is normal and healthy (and people probably won't stop giving compliments). In order to break a praise addiction, however, it's useful to "fast" for a few days. Ditch your Monas and avoid other chronic praisers until you begin to long for a compliment. Craving is a good thing, because learning to feel the need without acting on it is crucial for recovery.
Most praise addicts who fast go through severe withdrawal pangs, including intense anxiety, inexplicable rage, and terrible weariness. If you ride these out, the emotions will begin to change; if you give in and call your Mona for a hit, the pain will go back to lurking just beneath the surface of your consciousness.
Step 3: Feed your hungry soul