What is at the Root of our Compulsions?

Our addictive urges and compulsions can be all-consuming and debilitating. They can drastically interfere with our daily routines. They can deter us from our healing progress. When we aren’t able to stop ourselves from acting on them, we are often filled with sadness, guilt, embarrassment and regret. We feel angry with ourselves. We know our behavior is self-destructive but feel we can’t stop ourselves. A powerful practice we can implement when compulsions hit is to mindfully address the emotional issues underlying them.

Let’s start to explore the connections we’ve created between our thoughts and feelings and the accompanying behaviors. We often don’t realize the interconnectedness of it all. We separate our symptoms without being conscious of the mental and emotional issues at the root of them. Start to be mindful of the thoughts and feelings that come with your compulsions. What were you thinking, feeling and experiencing the last time you were faced with your addictive urge? Perhaps you were feeling anxiety about an impending deadline or obligation. Maybe you were feeling worry and sadness about a conflict with a loved one. Perhaps you were battling insecurity and feelings of low self-worth.

We often direct the majority of our attention to the compulsions themselves as well as to the difficult aftermath – the destructiveness, the broken relationships, the situations and circumstances surrounding our addictions. When we’re able to start giving more attention and energy to understanding the underlying emotions, we can interrupt the cycles we’ve been unconsciously perpetuating. Let’s try to focus less on the specific acts and more on the emotions driving them. What is at the root?

Addictions are associated with a broad spectrum of causes, which very often include the traumatic experiences we’ve sustained. Something many of us living with addictions share is a lack of faith in ourselves, which can result from our responses to our trauma. We feel disappointed with ourselves and our lack of progress in certain areas of lives. We carry within us a perpetual sense of inadequacy, of not being good enough, of not being able to measure up. We feel ashamed of who we are and the lives we’ve lived. We have to start addressing the things we’ve been afraid to look at. Developing the strength to overcome our addictive urges requires analyzing this deep emotional pain – getting to the root of whatever it is we’ve been trying to avoid, escape, numb ourselves to, and distract ourselves from.

We’re here to support you on this journey of self-exploration. Call (800) 871-5440 for more information on our treatment programs.