Many individuals engage in excessive use of otherwise healthy aspects of their life, such as exercise, work, food, sex, and spending. Obesity has reached epidemic proportions. Sexual addiction has become part of the pop-culture vocabulary. Americans are drowning in credit card debt. Couple’s frequently seek our services due to one of the partners inability to be physically or emotionally present because of excessive time allotted to achieving work and career goals.
We all need positive outlets to sustain a healthy balance and rejuvenate from the stressors of daily life. When do these behaviors go too far and become compulsive? One of the primary ways to assess compulsivity is, “Does this activity enhance my reality or am I engaging in it to avoid emotions or responsibilities?”
Compulsive Behaviors Criterion
Several other criteria can be used to assess the severity of compulsive behaviors:
- Loss of Control
- Continued Use Despite Negative Consequences
Relationships are frequently used compulsively as well. Some individuals engage in serial relationships chasing the romantic high that the beginning of a relationship offers. Others remain in relationships but avoid addressing issues and conflict that inevitably arise in every relationship and instead choose to attempt to meet their emotional needs outside of their relationship. A considerable number of individuals lose themselves in a relationship finding their sense of value in another evading feelings of shame and low self-worth within themselves.
With the advent of the Internet, an increasing number of individuals are becoming obsessed with pornography and sexually compulsive behaviors. Brain research has validated this type of behavior as causing similar chemical changes in the brain as substances, such as cocaine.
The causes of these unhealthy and dysfunctional behaviors are an inability to effectively manage emotions, often related to unresolved trauma, an attempt to attain value and worth outside oneself, and a refusal to face reality as it is. Compulsive behaviors tend to increase and individuals incur greater negative consequences as their use of these activities escalate. If any characteristics of your current behaviors meet these compulsive behaviors criteria, please seek assistance today.