Thursday, September 8, 2011

Compulsions and Health, by Mary Cook.

One of the hallmarks of compulsive disorders is the inability to satiate craving, for other than brief periods of time, after which more intense craving results.  This dynamic amplifies, the longer the compulsion has been practiced.  In later stages of compulsive and addictive disorders, the level of desperation to avoid non-drugged or non-modified internal states is formidable.  The farther we travel from honest reflection and compassionate personal inquiry, the more problems and pain we create and attract.  The more we focus on escaping and artificially altering discomfort, the more negative energy we give and receive, and the greater helplessness and hopelessness we experience.  Our world becomes smaller because we are empowering our ego personality, which directs us from habit and fear.  We are increasingly controlled and imprisoned by dark forces inside and around us, because we have made the object of our compulsion our Higher Power.  

Compulsions represent areas where we need healing.  We cannot obtain sufficient sex to compensate for the lack of healthy role models and demonstrations of mature love in our life.  Compulsions with food will not insure our safety, our sense of control, nor will they satisfy our needs to nourish ourselves mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually.  The adrenalin highs and fantasy life of the compulsive gambler do not counter depression from past lack of consistent emotional support and personal appreciation.  Compulsive shopping, money and material possessions cannot compete with commitments to personal healing and spiritual growth.

Compulsive aggression or violence gives the outward illusion of power and control, but actually amplifies internal feelings of vulnerability and helplessness.  A life style of crises, drama or excessive busyness and over-stimulation, intensifies and increases the frequency of personal painful thoughts, feelings and memories.  All efforts to block out pain, act upon it aggressively or escape it through artificial euphoria or defensiveness, compounds and complicates our original problem and its roots.  Just as material gifts cannot possibly compensate for sick, toxic, abusive, or unavailable parents, empowering the minds’ incessant desires and demands does not result in happiness and health.  Instead, it leads to feelings of despair and emptiness.

When our behaviors are attempts to defend against or release painful feelings that are not processed, healed, understood or integrated in a mature manner, we attract and create more experiences that trigger the same painful feelings.   When we are afraid of true intimacy, we block emotionally vulnerable connections with others.  Doing so indicates that we have previously disconnected from a meaningful, heartfelt relationship with ourselves.  Relationships then are typically superficial and focused on satisfying objectified needs.  Sometimes this pattern exists only in romantic or family relationships, because vulnerability to pain is greater there.  When we relate to others primarily from our mind, rather than from our heart and soul, the essence of true bonding and spiritual energy is missing.  Thus relationships do not evolve to challenge and enrich us, but rather remain stagnant or deteriorate.

The effects of compulsive disorders on our bodies can be primary or secondary.  Alcohol and other drug addictions, eating disorders and sexual compulsions have a direct negative impact on physical health.  Other compulsions as with gambling, shopping and work lead to damage from excessive adrenalin in the system.  With the exception of physical sensations which trigger the compulsion, we become desensitized to our body as a valuable guide and vehicle for spiritual growth on earth.  The over-focus on habitually satisfying the five senses and compulsive desires, prevents us from experiencing physical balance, harmony and a sense of wholeness.  As compulsive disorders progress, healthy sleep, exercise and diet suffer.  All of this opens the door to numerous health problems and disease.

Compulsions reinforce the less evolved part of our brain and interfere with higher brain functioning.  Thus we remain mentally in a state of survival with a high level of stress hormones present.  Habit is perpetuated and our mental focus is limited to seeking pleasure and avoiding pain.  How we think and feel about ourselves lacks depth and breadth.  Our thoughts focus on obtaining, wanting and needing, which means we view ourselves as insufficient, incomplete and deprived.  Understanding ourselves and life is severely limited because we are not living creatively and proactively.

Compulsions greatly interfere with conscious awareness of our spiritual being, our faith, and our relationship with our Higher Power.  Interactions with others devoid of spiritual energy are draining and difficult.  True happiness, health, love, and life fulfillment is beyond our reach.  Since spirit and soul make up our core essence and are the only part of us that is eternal, we remain in a downward spiral of negativity until we become willing to re-examine and change how we’ve been living.  One of the hallmarks of spiritual recovery is lack of strong craving, for we know what is of primary importance is contained within us and our relationship to our true Higher Power.

-- Mary Cook is the author of “Grace Lost and Found: From Addictions and Compulsions to Satisfaction and Serenity”, available from Barnes & Noble,, etc.  She has 35 years of clinical practice and 29 years of university teaching experience.  She is a national speaker and has a private practice in San Pedro, CA.  Mary is available for telephone and office counseling, guided meditation, speaking engagements and in-service training. Click here to read the original post.

No comments:

Post a Comment