“I just don’t think I can take it anymore!” were the words I heard between her sobs. “I never know what ‘next thing’ will be what takes my place! First it was the beer, then the porn, then the cigar bars every night, then sugar/carbs (and weight gain) and now it’s the gummies.”
There’s always a ‘mistress; … something he slips away to do that is more important than me. If I ask him to come home and spend time with the family, I’m just a ‘nag.’”
“He’s not a drunk, he’s not a sex adduct, he just has an ‘addictive personality.’ It’s always something!”
It wasn’t an unusual first session. Both men and women sit in front of me and pour their hearts out about their loved ones with “addictive personalities.” One thing they all have in common in loneliness. It is lonely being in that kind of relationship.
“Addictive personality” is a buzz phrase that is often used to describe people who may not have an “addiction,” but may bounce around from alcohol to spending to religion to marijuana to sex/porn to relationships, etc. However, there is no actual psychological diagnosis for the “disorder.”
As I have listened for years to people who speak of others with an addictive personality, or self diagnose themselves with it, I have found some “commonalities” in what they mean using the phrase.
Although there is not a psychological definition of the phrase, I think what people are trying to communicate with those words contain much truth. I call it a condition of being insatiable. Insatiable has been defined as “the inability to be satisfied, quenched or appeased; or wanting as much as one can get.”
That is a real condition that we all struggle with at some level! I think the difference between those who get labeled as an “addictive personality” and those who are just are seen as a bit impulsive is in their ability to moderate what they do in order to obtain the feeling of being satisfied, quenched, appeased, or to have “enough.”
After almost 30 years of practice, and owning inpatient and outpatient treatment center, I have noted what I believe fuels insatiability and how to assist people in their journey from insatiability to being sensational.
THE ROOTS OF INSATIABILITY
These are some of the factors that drive insatiability:
Unable to identify and/or deal with depression and/or anxiety
Early abuse (emotional, physical, verbal or religious)
Post Traumatic Stress
Lack of nurturing early in life (and often in adulthood)
Lack of self-confidence and/or self esteem
Long ago, I became acutely aware that people who were referred to as “addictive personality” types are mostly wonderful human beings who are simply reaching for things to attempt to fill the hole in their bucket of life. Yet everything they try to fill it with seems to slip away as soon as they consume it.
They want their lives to overflow, yet the hole in their bucket assures that will never happen … leaving them insatiable. They are often just amazing human beings who want to overflow with joy, success, love, peace, faith, hope and fulfillment. Most of us want that. I know I do! And I’ve been blessed with most of it (now that I have patched the gaping holes in my life’s bucket).
My life was once marked by what anyone would have called an “addictive personality.” Not because I was a horrible person (as people who are labeled as such often feel), but because like most who struggle with insatiability, I had a hole in my life’s bucket! I poured everything I could in, hoping something would “stick” or “stay” … but since nothing did, I became insatiable.
I poured in sugar, unhealthy relationships, carbs, religious rules, work, busy-ness, accomplishment … but none of them overflowed, they simply flowed out of my bucket.
Some people call it a “hole in the soul.” I called it a hole in my life’s bucket. Most of us have a bucket list, but rarely is the list checked off when our buckets have holes! I believe there is great connection and correlation with one’s life bucket, and their bucket list.
Does that sound familiar to you? Or do you know someone who seems to be insatiable due to their desire to have their life’s bucket overflow?
Whether it’s you, or someone you know … may I ask you a favor? Please do not judge yourself if it’s you; or if it’s not you, please do not judge your friend or loved one who struggles . Judgment is the one thing flowing through the bucket that increases the hole exponentially.
The core desire is no different than what we all desire. There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting our life’s bucket to overflow.
What is wrong is not in the personality of the person, it is the hole in the bucket.
I want to give a few hints to the person who knows and/or loves someone who struggles with what pop language would call “addictive personality,” or what I call “insatiability.” Then I’d like to give a few steps to the person with the “addictive personality” or insatiability.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU HAVE A FRIEND OR LOVED ONE WITH AN “ADDITIVE PERSONALITY”
1. Stop using the words “addictive personality.” They have become words that sting, and remember, as stated above, any judgment exponentially enlarges the hole in their bucket. Using those words (even if they use them) is not helpful. When you speak about it, speak with compassion and care, and use words that are kind.
2. Ask about their hopes and dreams and what they would like to feel and experience in their lives. Ask about their fulfillment or lack thereof. Listen carefully and they will let you know about the holes in their bucket. If you can understand and empathize, you will likely have enough of their trust to make suggestions or recommendations.
3. Speak to them about their potential. All of us wants to believe there is something great in us. We all want to believe we can be more and do more than we currently are. Insatiability comes loaded with lack of self-confidence or lack of belief in oneself. Hearing what someone else sees and/or believes makes all the difference in the world. It can actually begin to patch up the hole in the bucket.
4. Recommend books or programs that direct them to purpose. Purpose is a huge hole filler! I have a program called the “Power of Purpose” that I actually developed after years of working with insatiables. I developed the whole program in a way that would take them from insatiable to sensational in just a couple of intense days. Being insatiable keeps us looking externally for purpose, but taking purpose internally begins to patch the holes. For many, they once had purpose, and now it’s time to repurpose their lives. (Examples, a Mom who now has an empty nest, a retired athlete (or any retiree), anyone downsized or laid off, etc.)
5. Come alongside them with love and support. It is amazing how much more effective love and support is than criticizing, complaining, blaming and/or shaming. The overwhelming loneliness inside the one with a bottomless life bucket is actually astounding. Criticism, complaints, blame and/or shame only isolates them further, creating distance and profound loneliness. If you can get them to talk to you, you will often hear about how “alone” and “helpless” they feel.
Instead of: “Oh I see you’re gambling again because I saw 20 lotto tickets …”
Try: “Hey, I know you’re struggling financially, is there any way I could help you with a plan?”
Instead of: “Haven’t you had enough wine? You’re slurring …”
Try: “Hey, can we go for a walk and talk about how your week has gone?”
Instead of: “You’ve had enough ice cream, you’re getting fat …”
Try: “Hey, I’m worried about you, can we talk about you staying healthy for our grandkids?”
They need your love and support!
Now, if you are one of the courageous people who are reading this and you know your life’s bucket is rusted out or has holes … I’m on your side. I’d like to help.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU HAVE BEEN ACCUSED OF HAVING AN “ADDITIVE PERSONALITY”
I’ve been there. I didn’t want to own up to an “addictive personality” … but I knew my life’s bucket was full of holes, and nothing seemed to stick. I know you just want to overflow with good things. Like love, happiness, joy, peace, fulfillment. I want that for you too! Here are the things I did to begin my journey. Hopefully you will try them. I promise they will get you started toward being sensational and having a sensational life.
1. Admit what things you are using or doing insatiably to fill your bucket. Make a list. Write them down. Wine, beer, exercise, sugar, spending money, talking, entertaining others, etc. You know what they are. You don’t need to post them on Facebook. Just be honest with yourself.
2. Identify what you would love for your bucket to overflow with. Love? Fulfillment? Success? A huge win in your industry? There are no wrong answers. Write them down.
3. Go back through your list in #1 and ask yourself: “Are these things I am doing or using in #1 actually filling my bucket with what I listed that I wanted it to overflow with in my life in #2?” If not, say this aloud at least three times. INSANITY IS DOING THE SAME THING OVER AND OVER AGAIN AND EXPECTING A DIFFERENT RESULT.
4. Ask yourself what you might do to heal the holes in your life’s bucket. Usually those include things such as:
Read books that inspire you to become your best self
Attend workshops that launch you into your greatness
Coaching or counseling
Write down the ones that might work for you.
5. Write a plan. There is something powerful about writing a life plan. Most of us don’t do it because it’s something we are not familiar with. I encourage people to use these headings to write their life’s plan around any area needing improvement:
Where I am (be honest without shaming yourself or blaming others)
Where I’d like to be (a specific destination with defined, trackable markers)
Intentional daily steps to move you forward
Accountability process (you MUST have an accountability person or team)
Rewards for hitting mile markers (not just at the end, but at various predetermined intermittent goals that are met)
Sad to say, many people who are insatiable do not have the ability to be honest with themselves, or to devote the time to themselves in order to patch up the holes in their bucket. But if you are one of those people, may I encourage you to be brave enough to embark on a journey to your greatness? It’s in you! It’s up to you! But the holes in the bottom of your life’s bucket will not heal themselves.
They require intentionality and action. YOU CAN DO THIS! The real question is … will you? I believer you will. You deserve to have a life bucket that is overflowing with joy, success, peace, fulfillment, love and/or whatever you deeply desire!
You can leave insatiability behind and become sensational in who you are and in all you do!