17 May 2012

Compulsive Behavior: HIS

At Pete's first therapy appointment his counselor told him that he preferred the term "compulsive behavior" over addiction.  While I think it is critical to recognize the addictive elements of pornography,  lust, etc, I decided I like this term better too.  Mostly because addiction can become a crutch, or an excuse.

"I can't help it.  I'm addicted."

But compulsive behavior has less defeatist connotations.  Behaviors can change when people change, and compulsions can be overcome.  So can addiction, and I think they are very similar, and I also have thought about my own compulsive behaviors. 

[What I write here is my interpretation and practical application of science, but not the science intself.  You can probably spend an entire day reading the science of addiction and compulsive behaviors, but I'll try to explain it in Jane terms. ]

I love an analogy Pete's counselor used. We know that part of addiction and compulsive behaviors is related to neurological pathways in the brain.  More on that later, but the counselor told Pete that the pathways in his brain are like a pathway from your house to the beach.  You've walked it so many times, it's natural and almost thoughtless to walk it.  The grass and brush are trampled and your way is unobstructed.  But suppose you decide it is in your best interest to take another pathway, and you have to form that new pathway.  You have to put forth a great deal of effort to overcome the obstacles in your new path, and the lazy and frustrated part of you wants so badly to go back to your former, easier way.  In fact, sometimes without even meaning to, you find yourself walking down that comfortable path to the beach out of habit. 

It's obvious how this applies to Pete.  He has to form new habits, he has to deliberately behave differently when he is on the computer or watching a movie.  He simply can't be passive because the old habits will take over and before he knows it he will be in the same trap he has been in before.  Life will never be the same for him, but that's okay.  There is much to be enjoyed about the new pathways.  New scenery, new relationships discovered on his new path to the beach.

What wasn't so obvious to me was how this conept related to ME.  And that is for tomorrow...


  1. Jane - I honestly am going crazy waiting for you to write your next post now. I love this post though! I love the term complusive behavior too now - I do think people hear the word addiction (especially addicts) and use it as a cruth or excuse. Still, I am just dying to hear your thoughts on how it applies to you. I know it will open the door for seeing how this all applies to me as well & I love learning from others & their insights !

  2. I know your blog is for the wives, but I love reading your posts, because your so honest about where you are at to, and I see that everyone has things to work on. Doesn't diminish my sins at all, but makes me feel not quite so down on myself.

    That, and your attitude about your own weaknesses helps me to see that my compulsive behavior (I also like that better) is just one little part of all the natural man that I need to put off. First things first, I guess . . .

    1. It's so true- compulsive behaviors all stem from the same root of the natural man. Lust, laziness, greed, etc.

      Thanks for sharing your perspective, and you are always welcome here.

  3. I'm looking forward to reading the next installment!