10 Warning Signs You’re Addicted to Suffering

10 Warning Signs You’re Addicted to Suffering

I was born in the ghetto.

I’ve looked death in the face three times.

I spent years living with an eating disorder.

My father left me when I was just a little girl.

I’ve had to be hospitalized for major surgeries twice.

I’ve spent most of my life medicated; for physical and mental ailments.

Yet, despite everything, I’m a very happy person. I’m grateful for my life every day. I love being alive.

I wasn’t always this way.

I spent the majority of my adolescent and adult life wondering why bad things always happened to me. I expected tragedy every day. It’s no surprise I always got what I was seeking.

I spent so much time in a state of worry and misery, waiting for the next misfortune to reveal itself to me, that I became attached to the feeling of suffering.

It was a constant in my life. It certainly would never let me down. I was comfortable in the arms of suffering. In fact, I was so cozy that I resisted any attempt to free me from my sanctuary.

As always, it’s only looking back that I realize what I was doing. At the time I attributed all of my hardship to the universe. It’s only now I see that suffering became a part of who I was as an individual.

I’ve since found that this isn’t that uncommon. There are a lot of people who are comfortable swimming in their familiar pool of misery and anguish. What’s even worse, is they don’t even know it.

You may not know it. The sooner you find out, the sooner you can let go of all your grief and finally find out what it’s like to really be alive.

Here are 10 signs you may be a addicted to suffering. Be brutally honest, and take note every time you feel uncomfortable. Your body may be trying to tell you what your mind refuses to see.

1. You’re inconsolable.

When something bad happened to be, I refused to be consoled. Nothing anyone said made anything better. Even when they clearly showed me that there wasn’t anything to be upset about, I would remain upset. What business did they have telling me what to be upset over?

2. You believe people don’t have control over how they feel.

I used to welcome pain, sadness, and suffering since I didn’t think I had any control over my emotions anyway. I had no control over being devastated when getting rejected by a boy. I was entitled to hours of sulking, crying and, occasionally, amplifying the pain by playing the saddest, most anguish-filled music I could possibly find.

3. You focus on everything that’s wrong in your life.

I would dwell on all of the negative in my life. When a positive thought crossed my mind, I would find a way to make it inconsequential.

4. You play the victim and place blame on everywhere but yourself for hard times in your life.

I used to feel like people didn’t get me because I was always the outcast in social situations. The truth is I went into the social setting expecting to be rejected, so I rejected myself before anyone could even give me a chance.

I thought I was woefully unlucky and just born into a life of perpetual hardships. I blamed bosses for being unreasonable and my friends for not understanding. When all else failed, I’d blame my upbringing. (Just in case you haven’t heard yet, the statute of limitations on blaming your childhood for your problems has long since expired.)

5. You blame yourself for outrageous situations that could (1) never be your fault or, (2) are not as disastrous as you’re making it seem.

If my life was lacking in drama, I’d find the nearest calamity and blame (or abuse) myself for the disaster. It sounds funny now, but this is so common.
If I got a bad grade on a test, I would berate myself for being a failing idiot who could never do anything right in life and should be fed to a pit of snakes, but not before being set on fire.

6. There’s a pattern of bad things happening during good times in your life.

In the rare occasion I did experience respite from catastrophe, something would always happen. I was so focused on spotting the next calamity that I ended up manifesting it.

7. You take everything personally.

I used to not be able to handle constructive criticism. I always felt like I was being attacked or picked on.

These days, it takes a lot to get me down. As a matter of fact, Peter rejected two of my pitches before this one because it just wasn’t a match for The Change Blog. I ended up publishing them elsewhere, and joked with Peter that I would get it right if it was the last thing I did.

I didn’t blacklist Peter from my inbox, Twitter, and Facebook, on the conclusion that he was just an angry lunatic who obviously didn’t like women. Also he was mean.
It sounds crazy, but it happens every day.

8. You find it impossible to forgive yourself.

Whenever I did something I wasn’t proud of, I would bash myself to no end. I would never let it go and I would let guilt consume me.

9. You can’t think of anything to be grateful for.

I used to get very uncomfortable whenever someone asked me this question because I honestly didn’t feel like I had anything to be grateful for. I thought I needed to be a cancer survivor to be grateful, because obviously I couldn’t be grateful for the stupid simple things in my life.

This isn’t true. I don’t care who you are, you have something to be grateful for. Nothing is too small.

Just yesterday I was grateful for my glasses because they help me see better. Also they’re my only pair.

10. You believe yourself to be a victim to circumstance.

Just like I felt like I couldn’t control my feelings, I felt like I had no control over anything about my circumstances. I would let my circumstances dictate the tone of my life, when it should have been the other way around.

* * *

How did you do?

There are plenty of other warning signs, but in my opinion, these are the primary signs.

Now, just because you experience a few of those feelings once in a while, doesn’t mean you have to run and book an appointment with your psychologist.

But if you find yourself consistently identifying with the points above it’s time for you to release yourself from your bed of nails.

Photo by mislav-m

Liz Seda

Liz is a corporate dropout turned lifestyle designer and punchy personal development blogger. To find out more, go to her blog at A Life on Your Terms and download her member-only Life Lovers Guide to the Galaxy. You can also find her on twitter at @elizabethseda.

Latest posts by Liz Seda (see all)

63 Comments

  1. Any recommendations on how to guide someone to let go of this addiction? I’m able to work with myself on this and often able to help many others, but I have one friend that returns to suffering again and again. Any advice?

    Dan @ ZenPresence

    Reply
    • He needs self motivation.

      You can’t help him if he is not ready to help himself.

      Also, you can give him so inspiration books to read and ask always him what he learns from the book.

      Reply
      • I don’t think that they need motivation, I think it is a matter of very negative programming in their subconscious mind. I’ve suggested positive books, videos, etc…They help for a while, but……

        Reply
    • Boy, I feel for you Dan. Sometimes it’s really painful to see a friend caught up in something like this. Like Liz says … it can be an addiction. And if someone doesn’t want to admit it, they’re just not going to change. They don’t want to. What I try to do is just be there for them … and if they ever ask, I’m there. Good luck to you!

      Reply
    • Hey Dan,

      Wow that’s a tough one. One one hand, you want to help the people you love. But on the other hand, this can be very draining for you.

      As everyone said, like any addiction, he’ll need to want to help himself and admit the behavior pattern before anyone can help him.

      Not sure why I assumed this person was male, but the same applies for a female friend!

      Liz

      Reply
    • Hello
      I know what she is talking about and I have been there myself and been working on myself for years. Found this modality just last year and it changes your thinking with ease at your Subconscious level and Super-conscious levels.
      This allows your old programming that seems to be running your life to be changed .
      It works on so many levels and its fast.. It is called ” PSYCH-K ” and I was directed to it by my MOM that had just passed away . It has techniques to help you shift your CORE beliefs.
      Hope this helps. I can work via skype .

      Reply
    • I think the most effective way Dan is to share your thoughts about addiction and about anything with a true friend, every time he wants to go to his addiction to pick up the phone and call this true friend… you can watch Flight Movie to know more about what I am saying

      Reply
  2. Hi Dan

    Hypnotherapy is wonderful way to access inner resources and learnings that can be applied to addiction issues. Feel free to message me through my website or call to discuss further.

    Reply
  3. So now I’ve identified this addiction… how do I change it? I haven’t been able to escape the cycle thus far, though I desperately want to.

    Reply
    • For me and many, repeated exposure to positive videos – look up igodmind on youtube – reading positive self help books, AND deep contemplation can help. It’s not easy work. Some need further assistance. I know some people that do not respond well to self-help. Maybe professional help is needed at this point.

      Dan @ ZenPresence.com

      Reply
    • Hey Lex,

      Dan is right. It’s all good and well for me to write about the signs, but to actual make change takes massive work.

      If you’re interested, I’m opening my coaching practice to the public and the first five clients will get 3 months free. I usually do this by personal referral, but I’m scaling up now.

      LizS@alifeonyourterms.com if you’re interested.

      If not, find another professional. Life is so good, Lex. I want you to feel it.

      Liz

      Reply
  4. Good stuff Liz.

    You are right on all these points.

    I’m hoping this would help as many people as possible.

    Just shared in on Fb

    Reply
    • Hey thanks for the share :). I hope it will help people too.

      Reply
  5. You certainly have turned things around! Recognizing these things about ourselves is the awareness it takes to make a change. They say you can’t get anywhere else until you know exactly where you’re starting from. That seems to be exactly what you’re saying.

    Awareness and non-judgment are so crucial. Sometimes we think being aware leads to self-condemnation/judgment … and it can but it doesn’t have to! The judgment just sends us right back to the self-pity of being addicted to suffering.

    Great points, Liz. Thanks!

    Reply
    • Thanks Carmelo! I appreciate that. I’m glad you also bring up non-judgement. Once you’re aware and decide to do something about it, it’s going to take time.

      We’re not doing ourselves a favor when we berate ourselves when we fall into victim mode. Compassion for yourself is important!

      Reply
      • Liz, compassion for oneself is important. Unfortunately, in today’s individualistic world, there is no place for compassion for others. You can not have compassion for others if you don’t have it for yourself … the problem arises when it comes at the cost of others.

        Reply
  6. Sure do. Read my book “Four Notorious Barriers to a Meaningful Life” , and do the exercises. Get on my site, click on bookstore, you’ll find it. Good luck, Magic Marge
    Been there, done that, it works!

    Reply
  7. Sounds like rough stuff, I was lucky to be born in a good family (large with 11 kids) but good. I have a sister who is somewhat like this and it seems her problem is she doesn’t surround herself with 1) Good people but more importantly 2) People who listen.

    Some feel lost bc they don’t have anyone that will just listen and empathize with what they’re saying, then they bottle it up b/c no one will listen and they fall into depression.

    I’m glad your doing good Liz, love reading your honest, bad-ass truth on ALOYT

    Reply
    • Hiya Joe!! Great seeing you here!

      I can’t believe you had so many siblings! I didn’t even know that happened anymore. My mom also was born into a family of 11 children. I’d love to hear about your experience with that.

      A lot of the time, suffering is a good way to get attention and validation when other healthy ways don’t work. Especially if no one emphasizes with them. They don’t feel understood and they never have that need met: the basic need for a human to belong.

      Thanks Joe! Talk soon.

      Reply
  8. Great post Liz. Thank you so much for sharing. The victim game is so easy to get trapped into. It seems like our society is set up to encourage it. It is also the most powerful way that we dis-empower ourselves. Seeing what your up to is an important first step. Congrats for taking it and sharing it.

    Reply
    • Absolutely Brian! Great point. Awareness is always the first step. Thanks for bringing that up.

      Liz

      Reply
  9. Liz,

    Thanks for the post..It hit home to hear someone else say the things I have always known. Seeing them and hearing how they manifest in another persons life brings them closer to the surface.

    Reply
    • It’s always my pleasure Kelly.

      Reply
  10. This is a great story about self discovery Liz. If only everyone could go through this same process in life. Then we’d all find out that life isn’t nearly as bad as we originally thought. Thanks again.

    Reply
    • Hey Michelle,

      Thank you! It left me feeling vulnerable but I felt like it had to be shared :).

      Liz

      Reply
  11. I just wrote about this on Tuesday. One of the issues is your personal operating system, the base level beliefs that you use to live your life. Another issue is the vocabulary you use to invoke your now. When you use always and never, you get to be right.

    Sometimes there are also energetic issues.

    More information, check out my site: energyismagic.com

    Reply
    • Hey Nicole!

      I love the topic of your blog. It’s definitely one I want to learn more about.

      And it’s funny because I just wrote a post on emotional vampires, and here you are with a great one on energy vamps. :)

      Liz

      Reply
  12. Liz, I just haven’t been able to even get close to figuring out what is going on with me. It was just the other day when my thoughts were wandering in this general direction, then just now, I read your story. Everything got a little brighter and there were angels singing in the background, do you think that might have been a sign, lol! You’ve given me some hope where there hasn’t been any for a long long time now and for that, I want to thank-you … Tammy

    Reply
    • You’re so very welcome Tammy.

      It warms my heart to hear that. It’s the only reason I do what I do and I’m grateful you decided to let me know about your experience. Really I am.

      Let me know if you need anything else in the future. I’m always here to help.

      Good luck on your journey!

      Liz

      Reply
  13. A very good read. I can relate to many warning signs. The playing music just to feel the pain, The on and off quitting of smoking cigarettes and then urge to just seem to make things hard is tempting. Never thought so much into it until now. I knew something wasn’t right. Gambling years ago and in the back of my mind wanting to lose alot just because I got this high off of FIXING it and cleaning up the mess I made. hmmmm. Interesting. Liz you could be going in a path that can open up alot of things for people. Thanks

    Reply
    • Hey Maryann!

      It’s ok to play sad music when you are genuinely sad. But I used to put the music on when I started to feel better! Just so that the pain wouldn’t go away and I could continue feeling the hurt.

      This topic can get so complex. The reason behind why I used pain as a shield was because I didn’t know how to be happy, and I was afraid to try. Also, it was a great way to get attention and a good excuse to not be responsible. It relieved me of the responsibly of taking control of my life, and I felt like I needed that. Eventually I didn’t know who I was without it. I didn’t know how to be without it.

      It’s different for every individual, but I just wanted to give you some insight into my journey.

      Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment. I appreciate it and you’re very welcome.

      Reply
  14. I think suffering sometime isn’t that bad ’cause it can make you become stronger, anyway this is good post for these people who suffering bad things

    Reply
    • That’s completely true. It’s important to let yourself feel grief when appropriate. You shouldn’t hold in genuine grief.

      But to hold on to suffering as a crutch isn’t helpful. That was the suffering I was referring too.

      Thanks for bringing up that distinction!

      Reply
  15. Today it’s 8 of 10 for me.

    Reply
    • Takes a lot of courage to recognize that Alex. Thank you for sharing and let me know if you need anything.

      Reply
      • Thank you for your support, Liz! I found your web-site A Life on Your Terms really valuable for me.

        Reply
  16. Absolutely brilliant Liz! Yes, the “comfort zones” we become accustomed to – and cling to sometimes until death do us part – can be pretty bizarre! But if that’s the “truth” program that’s been installed in our subconscious minds, that’s all we have to operate with. Fortunately, as you prove, with the right guidance we can reverse these ‘misery memoirs’…..Like you, I learned the hard way. Now I train and write books about it!

    Reply
  17. Hey Pamina! Wow great site. You’ve obviously been wildly successful, and I’m honored to hear you liked my post!

    Reply
  18. Ah.. If someone is in misery and even if you tell them a million times, they wouldn’t listen to it, one should self realise to understand the misery and come out of the well (we have a saying in India, Koopa-manduka, meaning frog in a well).. Some people just lie in that pain, it happened with me as well and one has to be a warrior to come out of it.. so very true..Ah.. brilliant writing!!

    Reply
    • Koopa-manduka! I’ll have to steal that from you Hari (if that’s alright), because it’s too good to let go :).

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Reply
  19. I had not thought about this in terms of addiction before, but rather habits, mostly thinking habits, thinking habits that we developed sometimes without even knowing it or ever questioning it. The addiction model makes a lot of sense in relation to habits.

    For me, I spent a lot of my life hypervigilant, expecting disaster if I lowered my guard. Thankfully I wore myself out and changed my life from the inside out.

    If you have gone through this transformation in your own life, then you know (1) it can be done, and (2) what it takes to do it. All the more painful, then, to see someone else stuck in being a victim rather than moving towards being a victor.

    This list of warning signs you offered will surely be a sobering wake up call for many people

    Reply
    • I truly hope so Galen!

      Reply
  20. I recognise all of the above from a time long past now. Happiness and self esteem are intrinsically connected. I don’t know a single person with low self esteem who is really happy.

    The way I pulled myself out of it was to push the bounderies of my comfort zone. I did things that i was fearful of and overcame them. The more I did it the more control I felt over my life and situation, the more my self esteem and happiness grew.

    Unfortunately it takes work, there’s no magic pill, but it was worth it.

    Reply
    • Great point about self-esteem. You’re so right.

      And it does take a lot of work. You can have help, support, and guidance along the way, but you’ll have to pull most of the weight.

      Great comment Darren.

      Reply
      • Good point about pulling most of the weight. I didn’t have much support in a direct sense because I didn’t really tell anyone, however, the friends I had at the time enouraged me when I went on to confront my fears.

        I made a decision one day. ‘NO MORE’. I went out and bought loads of self help books, the real turning point was when I found Unlimited Power and Awaiken the Giant Within by Tony Robbins.

        I wrote a list of all the thing I wanted to do with my life and started doing them. The biggest fear I overcame was a parachute jump. I did 13 more just to make sure it wasn’t a fluke, after that things really changed, I felt like I could do almost anything and I did. As a result of this my self esteem and happiness increased dramatically.

        You’ll notice a common theme above,

        1. I made a decision to change
        2. I took responsibility for that change
        3. I took action to make change

        Without any of the three about I would still be addicted to suffering, of that I’m I have no doubt

        Reply
    • I used to blame my parents- especially my mother- for not giving me self-esteem. She went back to university, got a Ph.D., was a role model and mentor for so many younger women- and I felt deprived and angry that, however much she loved us, she wasn’t able to give the same kind of help and support and encouragement to me and my sister. Finally one time when I was once again trying to tell her, tears in my eyes, about all the things I ‘couldn’t’ do because she hadn’t given me any self-esteem, she snapped. She told me she couldn’t give me what she hadn’t had herself. That she had built her self-esteem slowly by trying things she didn’t think she could do and finding she could, after all. I finally began to realize that nobody can ‘give’ an adult self esteem. You feel your way into it slowly by trying, and trying again until you start to succeed. In retrospect, what my mother told me that day was one of the most helpful things anyone has ever told me.

      Reply
  21. This isn’t me. In fact, I’ve truly been a victim: of a cult as a child, of the loss of my first child, of an unfair divorce and custody battle (I’m a single dad), and other of life’s dishes. Rather then act the victim, I use all my life experiences to communicate love, hope, forgiveness, mercy, non judgement and other positive values through story, poem, and song.. That’s not to say I don’t complain and feel a bit sorry for myself from time to time, but it’s not the focus of my life and art.

    Reply
  22. I completely identify with this. When I was younger many of these things applied to me. I think I got it from my surroundings, it just how others acted. Thankfully I realized early that it was not the way to be and that I was more powerfully than I originally thought. I can’t imagine living with that midset now.

    Reply
    • Hey Lea!

      Isn’t it incredible how wonderful it feels to be powerful rather than powerless? That shift in mindset alone will change your life.

      Reply
  23. Moral of the story, take 100% for your life, instead of letting external factors dictate how you ultimately live.

    Reply
    • I couldn’t have said it better myself. Thanks Kevin!

      Reply
  24. I had the thought that as a young person I was always living in the future. As an older person, I was often living in the past. Those past hurts which seemed to boomerang like sound in an echo chamber were so draining. I have finally realized that the hurts have already happened and that they are NOT occurring right NOW. This is an extremely freeing realization for me. Much psychic weight has been lifted.

    Thanks for your great list.

    Reply
  25. Great content as always Liz. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
    • Thanks RC! Always a pleasure seeing you around.

      Reply
  26. Hi Liz…. Thanks for this post. It is making me relate to few things which I am constantly doing “1. You’re inconsolable.

    2. You believe people don’t have control over how they feel.”
    Though I feel something is wrong, But I am so used to if and like doing it, because I am addicted to it and living in it. So, I avoid thinking that it is wrong, instead I think it is the fact….

    Roopa
    http://www.glint.im

    Reply
    • Great observation Roopa. Being aware is half the battle. Thanks for giving me insight into your thoughts.

      Reply
      • Liz…. Sometimes I know I can get out of it…. but I dont act on it…. and sometimes I dont even get into suffering….
        One more thing about me, I am an optimist for my friends, I motivate them and they get influenced too. They like my company. They come to me when they need any kind of suggestion or motivation. But I hardly go to them, because I know that I know the remedy, using it is not in my control sometimes… Its strange about me or complicated rather :(

        Roopa
        http://www.glint.im

        Reply
  27. opssss..thats me :(

    Reply
  28. I love this! Thanx

    Reply
    • You’re very very welcome Jenny!

      Reply
  29. I too can relate to this story. I was this way a few years ago and what I realized is that even though I was going through bad situations with work, relationships, and family the common denominator for me was the negative company I kept. They were negative in all aspects so for sure I was too. It took deep soul searching, renewing my faith with God, and him delivering and bringing good people in my life.

    Reply
  30. I can relate to so many of these points. Having said that, I believe my blog is one step in trying to come out of the rut. I wish this hope prevails.

    Reply

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