18 May 2012

Compulsive Behavior: HERS

**PRE-EDIT:  Is there such a thing? Anyway, I wrote this yesterday when I wrote part 1, but it was too long so I saved it to keep you all coming back.  Haha.  But then this morning I read Jacy's awesome post on this subject.  Isn't it funny how blogs trend?  And if you didn't read part 1 of this yesterday, do that first or this one won't make sense. 

So anyway, I knew Pete had issues, I knew his behavior was often driven by a complicated human brain.  But I didn't realize I have my own habits/neuorlogical pathways/compulsive behaviors that trap me in self-destructive and unproductive ways.   Until I read this article and it opened my eyes. (Please read the article, even if it means you don't finish this post, the article will do you more good than my post.) I knew as soon as my brain processed the words she wrote, that they were true, and I was guilty.

I have an iPhone and I compulsively check my email, my google reader,whatever app has a little red bubble on it, or even if it doesn't. When I have a spare minute, I do it. When I am procrastining doing something I should be doing, I do it.   When I'm just being lazy or when my kids are bouncing off the walls I do it. At night before going to sleep I lay in bed and do it, and first thing in the morning when the screen is still blurry from my sleepy eyes, I go through the motions as if I were conditioned to do so.  (Because I am.)

I spend HOURS at my laptop throughout the day, wandering aimlessly through blogs, comments, profiles, and back to the google reader and my email.   Catching up on the forum, reading and commenting in another world.  A little shopping on Amazon or Craigslist.  Perusing and pinning on Pinterest.  Minutes tick away as my life passes me by and REAL relationships suffer.  I slam the laptop shut and walk away, determined to accomplish something, but I'm drawn back to it time and time again. 

Talk about an addiction! Maybe there are no chemicals being produced, no other physiological or hormonal processes taking place, but I undoubtedly have a well-worn path to my beach of internet.

My compulsive behaviors used to include Facebook as well. For different reasons I deactivated my account a few months ago. And while I occasionally miss it because of it's convenience in contacting people, (you know the ones, they never answer their phone but they promptly respond to your FB message?) for the most part I've felt freed from that compulsive behavior. Because there is freedom in abandoning bad habits.

(Disclaimer: I know Facebook is not a bad habit for everyone, but it was for me. Enough said.)

I have other compulsive behaviors (don't get me started on eating/food), but this particular example seemed the best choice for sharing because it was the one used in the article. The problem with compulsive behaviors based on neurological pathways is that, at least for me, I waste precious time indulging in them. I fall short in other much more meaningful areas of my life because I am too distracted.

The solution is the same for me that it is for Pete. It's a matter of making new pathways that lead me on more satisfying and fulfilling journeys. The article talks in particular about scripture study, that when we make a habit of it, and form a worn and convenient pathway for it, we begin to crave it. Exercise is the same way. If you've ever given a diligent and consistent effort to exercise you know what I mean. Your brain starts to desire it and your body longs for it.

So I guess the point I'm making here is that, as with most things, we can make our weak things strong and use our amazing brains to our benefit rather than our detriment. I'm motivated to choose the things I REALLY want for habits and train my brain to work in my favor, rather than against me.


  1. Jane, this is so great. I love the path to the beach analogy. I definitely have a well worn path to my email. I've been trying to limit myself to three times a day. I think once a day would be better, but baby steps right?
    I see one problem with this new discovery though, if you stop reading, commenting, and posting as much, I think I'll go through Jane withdrawal.

  2. Jane - you ROCK ! Thanks for your honesty, insight & sharing that article ! We know this stuff, but I know at least for me - like most truths - I need constant reminders. And sometimes - the way in which the message is shared, or when it is recieved has a lot to do with how we recieve it. Thank you, thank you for sharing this !