Overcoming Compulsive Behaviors: A Blueprint to Victory

April 21, 2024 by  
Filed under For Her

By Susannah Wollman   

As I sit here today, my terrier is curled up as close as she can for warmth.  Warmth is something we all crave: the warmth of a hug from a friend, in the smiling eyes of our beloved, of a tiny hand tucked up in our own.  Let’s talk about that longing—the many and varied ways that we seek to obtain it, how it can become an all-consuming pastime, and how we can get stuck in the immense rut we’ve dug in our search for it.

One very basic principle that we must see if we are ever to win the victory over our compulsive behaviors is “learn from the past”.  Look around you, can you even see the horizon, or is the rut so deep that all you can see are steep walls hemming you in?  It may look like we’ve already lost the war, but believe me, sister; we haven’t even entered into the fray yet!

In ancient Greece, they had a custom of crowning the victor of athletic games with a wreath of laurel leaves.  What the athletes then knew, and what we must grasp, is that you cannot “rest on your laurels.”  In the movie Gladiator each victory only meant the next fight would be more heavily stacked against the winner.  Win or die.  Now that’s what I call motivation.

While we must learn from the past, we cannot stay there.  For the gladiator, to rest meant certain death.  For us the trick is in knowing what to learn from the past and when to move on.  It’s nice to have a victory on which to look back.  But if we stay there, we may have won that first battle, but we have lost the war.  The key to overcoming compulsive behavior is to keep moving ahead.  Don’t let your victories hamper progress.  Doing something one time impulsively does not make it a compulsive behavior.  Likewise, winning over one incident of compulsive behavior does not win the war.  You’ve got to get up off your laurel leaves and get a move on, girl!

We’re going to look at the symptoms of compulsive behaviors to better understand them.  But first, I think it’s a good idea just to understand what compulsion is.  An urge to do or say something that might be better left undone or unsaid.  An irrational motive for performing trivial or repetitive actions, even against your will.  An irrational need to perform some action, often despite negative consequences.  A behavior that is carried out for emotional or mental relief rather than for some other purpose.  An irresistible impulse to act, regardless of the rationality of the motivation

Let’s look back at those laurel leaves.  Once the last bit of tickertape has fluttered to the ground, people are already moving on—and you should be, too.  What would it be like if after the victory parade, you refused to move on?  Not only would you look absurd, but pretty soon you’d become an impediment to the forward momentum of everyday life, and people would resent your seat on those laurel leaves in the middle of their lives.

The greatest victory in all of history is Christ’s victory over death and the grave.  Death itself can no longer hold us, because of Jesus’ victory!  Imagine if He had stayed in that tomb reliving the previous day’s events.  But He didn’t.  He stood up and walked right out the door!  Jesus had a zillion things to do that day.  He would startle Mary in the garden, appear to His apostles, and amaze the five hundred brethren in 1 Corinthians 15.  He even ate dinner with His disciples.  Jesus had to get up and — here’s the important part!  — walk through the door that His victory over death opened!

Okay, now we have a brief understanding of victory.  To recap:  Each victory is a NEW victory.  Each victory opens doors through which we are invited to walk.  If we choose not to walk through, we will be “resting on our laurels” while everyone else walks away, looking for new victories!

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