Whether it’s your bedtime ritual each night, your shower in the morning, or brushing your teeth, we all have repetitive habits that we might loosely call “compulsive.” These habits simply make our world feel more in sync—in control. Just try to skip taking that shower or not brushing your teeth and see if you find yourself fidgeting a bit. We are, after all, creatures of habit. Unfortunately, our inherent nature to form habits is indiscriminate, habits can be positive contributors to our lives or they can be the fuel for anxiety or depression.
For our purpose of Self-Coaching, what’s important is to differentiate normal from neurotic compulsive behavior. You do this by asking what’s driving your behavior. When your bedtime ritual, shower, jog, or brushing your teeth are driven by positive desire and a sense of wellbeing, that’s healthy, and that’s normal. But when compulsivity is driven by insecurity, then the driving force isn’t positive, it’s destructive. Insecurity, that which leaves us feeling vulnerable and helpless, looks to gain control by ritualistically repeating any behavior that quells the gnawing discomfort within. Many addictions and destructive habits fall into this category, however, there is a lot of gray. At the very least, try to differentiate the “have-tos” in your life from the “want-tos.”