One of the biggest challenges when it comes to acting in ways that are healthy and functional, is something known as compulsive behaviour. This is something that has received wide spread publicity in recent years.
When someone behaves in ways that are compulsive, it means that they are not acting in a conscious manner. Here, they feel as though they have no control over what they do or don’t do.
It’s as if they are possessed by some kind of force and are quiet simply powerless to change what is taking place. There are going to be some instances where this kind of behaviour is looked upon with acceptance and other times when it is seen as dysfunctional and unhealthy.
If one was to compulsively go to the gym or to engage in some kind of exercise, in the short term, it could be seen as productive. And yet if this went on for too long or started to have a negative impact on others areas of one’s life, it would be dysfunctional and unhealthy.
When ones leaves their house and locks their door, it would be normal to check it at least once; on the odd occasion when doubts arise as to whether they have actually locked it or not. But if one was to go back to the door every time that they lock it and check the door five times for example, it is a sign that something is not right.
Another common occurrence is around cleaning ones hands and cleanliness in general. To make sure one is clean and well kept can be a reflection of how much they respect and value themselves. However, if this is taken to the extreme and one is constantly washing their hands, then something is out of balance within.
While these behaviours are not always functional and healthy, they enable one to feel more relaxed and at ease, at least for a short time. So one can feel a sense of anxiety, fear, shame or guilt and by behaving in these ways; it allows them to regulate their emotions.
And as these behaviours repress the emotions and don’t deal with them, it means that these behaviours or rituals have to be performed constantly. This is why they become compulsive; for if one just did something once that would not be enough.
What these compulsive behaviours allow is for the ego mind to feel a sense of control. Although one is clearly out of control, the mind is in control of being out of control. The ego operates through control; for to be out of control would be interpreted as death to the mind.
This is because when something is familiar to the mind; it becomes what is classed as safe; so when something is out of control or unfamiliar, it will cause one to feel unsafe. Whether it is of functional or healthy is irrelevant. So in this instance, one’s mind has learnt to become comfortable through acting in ways that are compulsive. If one didn’t act in these ways, pain would be experienced and it wouldn’t feel safe.
The ego mind has numerous defence mechanisms to avoid the pain that is coming up from the body. For if this pain was not dealt with by the minds defence mechanisms, it would lead to one being overwhelmed by emotions and feelings.
But even though the mind does have these ways of dealing with pain, they are not long term solutions and are only short term solutions at best. And when this emotional pain is not dealt with, it will cause one to act in ways that they have no control over.
A body that is full of trapped emotions and feelings is going to be far too much for the mind to handle. It will be like trying to put a forest fire out with a watering can. The thoughts that one has around compulsive behaviour are a result of the mind interpreting how one feels - ‘my body feels this way, so therefore I think this way’.
The Typical Approaches
One could try and change their behaviour and this is going to be a struggle all the time they feel as they do. To behave in another way will only cover up these feelings and cause one to become even more disconnected from them.
And changing ones thoughts might settle the mind down and have a small impact on ones behaviour. However, the feelings in the body are still there and so it will be a battle between body and mind.
If the trapped feelings and emotions were not in the body, the mind would not have to interpret them and create negative thoughts as a consequence. And if the body was at peace, then there would be no need to act in dysfunctional ways to regulate how one feels.
These trapped emotions can be the result of what has happened during ones adult years and go back to when one was a child and even a baby. When one doesn’t feel that it is safe to express their feelings and emotions, perhaps because the emotional support is not there, they can up being stored in the body. This can be in ones: skin, bones, muscles and organs.
While these feelings and emotions that are trapped in the body can end up controlling how one behaves, they do not belong there. So it can feel as though one is being controlled by something and that they have no control.
One can face and release their trapped feelings and emotions with the assistance of a therapist or a healer. As this takes place, one’s mind and body can work together instead of fighting each other. And one can choose how they behave, as opposed to feeling that it is out of their control.
Oliver JR Cooper
Author of 26 books, Transformational Writer, Teacher & Consultant.
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That which is contained within these articles is based on my own empirical understanding and is true for me at the time they were written. However, as I continue to grow, what I perceive as the truth will inevitably change and as a result of this - parts of these articles may not reflect my current outlook.