Self

6 Behaviors That Feel Amazing — But Can Easily Become Compulsions

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Most activities or behaviors are perfectly fine in our day-to-day lives as long as they are done in moderation. 

The more important question is, what habitually excessive behaviors might damage our relationships, finances, careers, etc?  

The answers to that question will help shape our plan of action to better control our actions in the name of moderation.

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In the pursuit of moderation

Moderation is defined as the avoidance of excess or extremes, especially in one's behavior.

Other definitions include: 

  • Self-restraint 
  • Self-control
  • Self-discipline 
  • Moderateness 
  • Temperateness 
  • Temperance
  • Abstemiousness
  • Nonindulgence
  • Leniency
  • Fairness

How do we interpret what behaviors should be more controlled? We determine as quickly as we can whether a behavior is compulsive.

Compulsive behavior is defined as performing an action persistently and repetitively. Compulsive behaviors could be an attempt to make obsessions go away.

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Six behaviors that can become compulsive if not approached with moderation

1. Alcohol consumption

Alcoholism is a chronic disease that is compulsive and characterized by an uncontrollable emotional and physical dependence on alcohol. The alcoholic drinks to get a buzz or drunk and continues to drink in excess long after the buzz has arrived. 

It's certainly fine to enjoy a few cocktails from time to time. It doesn't become a problem until it begins to interfere with important relationships, your career or finances. 

There are many functioning alcoholics who are very good at hiding their addiction. They may even convince themselves that if they are only drinking on the weekends, on vacation or when they don't have to work the next day — they don't have a problem.  

Some believe that if they are not hurting anyone it shouldn't be anyone's business. While this may be true, are we certain it is not affecting those we hold close to our hearts? 

How much fun is it to watch someone who is stumbling around, slurring their words, getting louder by the minute, and repeating themselves over and over?

If having a drink is the first thing one thinks about the moment they get off work or arrives home — one may need to think about how much this issue controls their decisions or choices. 

Is it a bad habit or an addiction?

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2. Shopping

This becomes an issue when someone shops for items even when one doesn't really need anything. Just because one can afford to own two hundred purses, doesn't mean that one should.

In many cases, those who appear to enjoy excessive shopping are trying to fulfill a void that is not being met. They may believe that having 50 purses means they are important or they have some version of the status quo. 

Who are you trying to impress and why is it so important?

Is this just an attempt to satisfy a need of feeling important? Or perhaps, it makes one feel like they matter. 

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3. Eating 

Eating to fulfill a void. It tastes good and I just want more. Or undereating because one thinks they are fat (anorexia or bulimia). 

What needs or feelings are not being met or addressed?  

Maybe one is a nervous eater. Maybe they grew up in a home where everyone overate. Maybe these habits became an issue because one is bored or lonely or sad. 

Yes, it starts somewhere but that doesn't mean it should continue on from generation to generation.  

Start by walking — even if it's just a short walk. Walking helps us change our focus. It allows us to release emotions. 

When we focus on all of the beauty that surrounds us, we realize that there can be more to life than just food.

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4. Gambling

This is playing games of chance for money in the hope of reaching a desired financial result. The odds of winning put us at risk of losing the earnings needed to meet our financial obligations. 

How many people have broken family relationships because they lost everything by gambling? We can't rob Peter to pay Paul.  

5. Hoarding

Hoarding disorder is defined as someone who has persistent difficulty in discarding or parting with objects or possessions. This often happens because one may have grown up poor or they may believe that irrelevant items hold some type of value.

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6. Sex or pornography

This can manifest as an intense focus on sexual fantasies, urges or activities. Where does one stop or where does one draw the line?

Some of these are learned behaviors based on how we were raised or grew up. If one or more of our parents/family members had issues with any one of these behaviors it can certainly carry forward without one giving it much thought. 

Some of us are born with addictive personalities. We are predisposed to have difficulty in some aspects of our lives where issues can be habit-forming.  

These habits may stem from not feeling satisfied in some area(s) of one's life. These habits may come from wanting to fill a void — a need that seems difficult to satisfy. 

We may ask ourselves, what exactly is it that we feel is missing? What are we running away from? How do we find what we need to feel fulfilled?

It is my belief that deep within ourselves, the majority of us have the ability to distinctly know the difference between right and wrong or good and bad. 

The key is recognizing an issue and having the courage, faith and desire to change it. This means we have to dig deep. We have to look beyond the surface. 

We have to face issues that may seem difficult or insurmountable. No one is saying it won't be hard or painful. 

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Taking pride in a moderate approach

We have to stay focused on what life will look like once we get to the other side of these issues. How satisfying will it feel if we accept that we can be proud of our accomplishments?

Think about the value of self-worth. Consider how much more enjoyable life can be without having these obstacles standing in the way.

Where is our focus on matters of importance? When did we lose focus of who we are and who we want to be? 

At what point do we decide that our obsessions have too much control over us? Why are we so willing to give any of these behaviors so much power?

Are we willing to accept that we may lose important relationships if we aren't willing to work on overcoming an addiction or behavior? Is maintaining our behavior choices without change worth the risks? 

Ask yourself, "Who or what is important to you and why?"

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Ask for help if you need it

I often tell my clients, when they are 70 years old and looking back at their lives, will they have any regrets? Are you willing to answer that question honestly?  

Poor habits are hard to break. Is it time to stop making excuses? Is it time to be accountable?

Remember, there are many people who have overcome these obstacles before you. There are people who are willing to support you and stand by your side. 

Don't be afraid to ask for help. This doesn't mean you are weak. It means that you are human and no one is perfect.

We have to recognize that we all have options. We have the ability to change. Only we get to choose our priorities. 

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Kathy Thielen is an energy healer and life coach who focuses on happiness, self-care, psychic healing and relationships.

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