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How to Stop Compulsive Behavior

author image Timothy Onkst
Based in Harker Heights, Texas, Timothy Onkst has been writing about sports, fitness and health since 2003. His articles have appeared in a variety of publications including "Texas Roundball" magazine, Yahoo Sports, Fox Sports and other websites.
How to Stop Compulsive Behavior
A woman gambling in a casino. Photo Credit Vstock LLC/VStock/Getty Images

Compulsive behaviors can include shopping, hoarding, eating, gambling or obsessive-compulsive thoughts. Licensed therapist Gloria Arenson, writing for Psychology Today, says that you are suffering from a compulsion when you can't control when you start or stop a behavior. You can become trapped in repetitive and senseless thinking, and have trouble getting out. Compulsive acts are a result of stress, and eliminating those stresses with the help of the Emotional Freedom Technique, or EFT, can help eliminate the behaviors, notes Gloria Arenson. EFT was developed by Gary Craig, and is designed to relieve undesirable emotions and the problems those emotions cause.

Step 1

Identify the compulsive behaviors and how they make you feel. Gloria Arenson recommends to write down what you did and felt during your compulsive behavior. Admitting and confronting the problem will help you deal with the situation and figure out how to resolve it. The University of Massachusetts' Elizabeth Holtzman says that compulsions are caused by people needing to reduce tension. In other words, it's an outlet so that people don't have to confront the real problem.

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Step 2

Figure out what made you feel strongly enough to perform the compulsive behavior and what you can do to change it. In other words, figure out the cause of the compulsion you've identified in Step 1. This will give you the power to make changes and get rid of the cravings and compulsions.

Step 3

Challenge the feeling that made you perform the compulsion. Determine whether the feelings and thoughts are true or not; in other words, whether or not they are rational and correspond to reality. Most people realize their compulsions and are at some point able to look at them rationally. Arenson advises that you might need to consult professional help to do so.

Step 4

Exercise to get some stress out. Gloria Arenson advises doing a task that will get your mind off of negative thoughts and let new ideas come out. Arenson also recommends prayer, journal writing and meditation to get negative stressful thoughts out.

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