Unlike drugs, compulsive behaviors do not end up killing you on their own. Depending on what the compulsive behavior is, it could put a strain on relationships, run you into the ground with debt or compromise your ability to pay attention in school or maintain a decent level of performance at your job. The fact that compulsive behaviors impede your ability to think is something that should function as an incentive to get rid of them. When dealing with compulsions, the most difficult thing to do is to separate these behaviors from regularity. In this article, we will take a look at five distinguishing questions that may determine whether you’re dealing with compulsive behavior or not.
Have you thought about quitting the behavior? Have you tried? By now, you may’ve already considered that a behavior is causing problems in your life. Believe it or not, many people who deal with compulsive behaviors are somewhat aware of how damaging they are. These are the people who try to quit their behavior, perhaps practicing things they’ve learned from self-help sites or relying on their willpower alone. While some succeed in quelling their vices, many sufferers of compulsive behavior relapse into the “patterned thinking” that got them to where they are in the first place. At this stage, it’s best to consider counseling, which is a cost and time-effective way of battling compulsions.
Is this behavior interfering with important responsibilities? Is it affecting your ability to do your job? Much like drugs, a preoccupation on compulsive behaviors can cut into other important parts of your life. While you should be doing something like studying for a test or working, you may find yourself planning the behavior. Shopping addicts will likely spend a lot of time looking for good places to shop, and eventually they’ll begin missing work to do it too. Gambling addicts will squander a lot of their money and drive themselves into debt, neglecting certain bills and funneling their money into the prospect of winning more. This fiscal irresponsibility is a hallmark of people suffering from drug addictions, compulsions and other dangerous behaviors.
What’s the behavior’s effect on your life? Is it negative or is it positive? As mentioned before, compulsive behaviors are usually catalysts to fiscal irresponsibility and dips in work performance. If a behavior’s effect on your life is negative and you knowingly continue it then you’re suffering in the same vein as a drug addict. Sometimes the things you do may affect your relationships or cut into your daily routine. When this happens, you should really consider looking into a counseling program. An inability to quit this behavior in spite of its negative effects is a tell-tale sign of whether it’s a compulsive behavior or a bad habit. Ignoring it for too long can cause damage to yourself or your loved ones, depending on the compulsion.
Is the behavior a secret? Can you not tell your friends or loved ones that you engage in it? Not being able to discuss what you do is a sign that you subconsciously know it is wrong. Of course, this does not apply to some private things that may be considered normal routines and are taboo to discuss, but if your compulsive behavior falls along the lines of something as simple as shopping, hoarding (“collecting”) or even gambling then there’s a problem with the fact that it’s stigmatized. When you end up stealing or sneaking away evidence of what you’ve done, that’s a sign that shouldn’t be ignored. This means you’ve developed a potentially dangerous behavior that could hurt you long-term and need to pursue the means to stop immediately.
Is this behavior performed in some kind of excess? The repercussions of compulsive behaviors come in the form of the resources invested into them. One of these resources may be time. With enough of time, something as simple as a hand-washing compulsion can become frightening. Many sufferers of this compulsion will wash their hands until their skin peels, developing blisters, redness, and bumps along the way. Those with gambling or shopping compulsions end up spending thousands of dollars on their habit, while hoarders collect and collect to the point that the cluster is overwhelming in their houses. One of the main ways of distinguishing a compulsion from a normal behavior is looking at the excess that comes with it.