Thursday, July 18, 2024

After The Love Is Gone: How to Cope With Attention Addiction.

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( Typical addictions: sex, alcohol, drugs.  These addictions have all the “pomp and circumstance” including anonymous groups, fundraisers for non-profits, and reality television shows with professional counselors guiding people to better days without these potentially deadly habits.  But what about habits that do not come from physical contact or a chemical equation? How do we deal those effectively?

I have asked myself this very question for several years after I graduated high school from a small city in Louisiana.  My name was known throughout my hometown due to my intelligence and involvement in pretty much every extracurricular activity that was not sports.  I said to others I did not want the notoriety, but I welcomed it. I inhaled it like it was a bevy of 70% off candles at Bath & Body Works that I could purchase at any time.  Attention became my addiction.  Leaving home was an extreme wake up call for me.  I was no longer the center of attention.  I had to earn my place in the hearts and minds of others. My mind was so conflicted because I never thought I would have to work so hard in my life. My attention addiction became a serious weakness for me, and I desperately needed to figure out a way to balance my life before I ceased to exist.

Dealing with this type of addiction is not easy but not impossible. I found that the most effective ways you can deal with attention addiction are to acknowledge your addiction, figure out how to handle your triggers, and refocus you to yourself.

People laugh at how members of Alcoholics Anonymous have to introduce themselves to a group: “Hi. I’m… and I am addicted to alcohol.”  Their introduction, however, is probably the greatest tool in their fight of the addiction. With attention, it is exactly the same way. You have to come to terms with the fact that you have a problem.  I had to come to terms with my attention seeking addiction when I was in my late 20s.  I decided to join the audio/visual ministry at a church. This ministry basically makes sure you can hear and see services and not go deaf or blind in the process.  I improved a program that someone else basically screwed up.  In my head, my “attention ho” is standing boldly and proudly waiting for a drink of affirmation.  Unfortunately, she never received it. So, I snapped.  I commenced to scream, complain, and destroy my house.  When my husband came home to my destruction, he simply said “Uh…you have a problem.  You need help to fix it.” He was right. I ended up going to therapy where my counselor informed me of my issues with attention addiction.  I had to admit to a complete stranger that I had a serious problem.  Tears flowed, screaming ensued, but I was finally honest with myself.

Most people when they are having fun have no clue of how fast time flies.  Most people with addictions are the same way.  We do not realize our problem, and we do not realize what causes them. This is why it is important to know your triggers and how to handle them when they happen.  If you are thinking a trigger will be this grandiose and magnificent action that suddenly ignites your addiction, think differently please. It will not.  It is usually something that happens all the time.  My trigger, believe it or not, was seeing people succeed.  Seriously. If people I knew were doing better than me, this incredibly huge green-eyed monster would wake up, and my addiction was activated.  Therapy helped me to recognize my triggers, but I had to put the work in to change my behaviors.  Instead of drinking Everclear directly out of the bottle, I started drinking water until I tinkled every 2 minutes and 13 seconds (This is completely awful on road trips.). Instead of spending money I did not have, I made a list of things I want and need. Then, I store the list in my phone and buy what I can when I can. Find what helps you to be better and do better when your trigger wants otherwise.

I know it seems weird to focus on you when you want attention.  However, take a second to think about it.  You want attention from others. Why?  It is probably because you do not pay attention to yourself.  You distract. You deter. You focus on any and everything but yourself.  I am an expert at this.  I involved myself in so many extracurricular activities at my job and other organizations just to keep me from focusing on me.  I came home tired and worn out to the point where I could do nothing but sleep.  Since I was not giving myself the attention I deserved, I wanted it from others.  Therapy helped me to find out why I was doing so much, and I worked to adjust my schedule. Now, I have times of the day where I do nothing but what I want. Sometimes, I read. Sometimes, I write. (Most of the time I am sleeping because it is my favorite hobby.)  Either way, I am telling myself “You have my undivided attention. Have fun with me!” I do, and I realize now that it is way better than any attention from others.

Attention addiction is not a drink you can see or a drug you can snort.  It is mental. Anything mental that is not intelligence usually leads to us believing we are crazy.  In truth, we are not.  We just have issues that can be addressed if we admit that they exist. Attention addiction is a problem, but it is not the end for you.  Acknowledge. Handle. Refocus.  The love and attention from others may be gone, but you will find a new love specifically catered to and created by you.

Staff Writer; J. W. Bella

May also follow this talented sister online over at; JWB Writes.

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