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Compulsive Behavior-2 concludes the powerful method to understand what makes us do destructive things and to control these compulsions. The BAR cycle applies to addiction, abuse, eating disorders and other compulsive behavior. 

BAR Cycle And Compulsive Behavior

Continued from  BAR Cycle And Compulsive Behavior

Results are the emotional feedback we get from the actions we take.  These feed into our belief and either strengthen or weaken it.  For example, if an alcoholic feels he needs a drink to build up his self esteem in certain situations, the act of drinking will generate emotional responses.  He notices he was able to relax and not be so self-conscious while he was drinking.  This reinforces his need for more alcohol, because it temporarily masks his self-esteem issue.  Unfortunately, the guilt over having drunk too much and the realization that he "needs" to drink lowers his self-esteem even more, requiring more alcohol to get the same temporary relief.  Obviously, we can't control results without changing the actions that generated them.

Using the BAR Cycle To Control Compulsion:  In future articles, we'll apply the BAR Cycle to specific conditions, like anxiety, addiction, eating disorders, pedophilia, etc.  For now, let's discuss how to use it to control compulsions, generally.   The cycle starts with a Belief, which generates an Action that leads to emotional Results that alter Belief.  In the case of harmful compulsions, the Cycle builds and strengthens a false belief, increasing the "need" for the action.  Think of the BAR Cycle in terms of prison bars.  Every time we go through the Cycle, we add another bar to our prison, locking us into destructive behaviors.  Since we can't change Results without changing the Actions and we can't force ourselves to permanently change Actions without changing the underlying Beliefs, the only place we can break into the BAR Cycle and escape the prison is through Beliefs.

Our beliefs are made up of brain patterns from every experience we've ever had.  Most of our controlling patterns happened so early in life we have no memory of it.  This is why we often follow in our parent's footsteps, whether for the good or bad.  The stronger the emotion attached, the more repetition of the thought pattern, the stronger the pattern, the stronger the compulsion.  This is why, though I hated the behavior of my alcoholic father, I grew up to become an alcoholic, myself.  These patterns are so reliable, $ Billions are spent each year to capture your thoughts, attach an emotion and program you to want a certain product.  It's called advertising!  It's no accident they use humor, sex or other emotions in the ads...emotions strengthen your brain pattern and your desire for their product.  We can use this to our advantage in changing our own beliefs and controlling our compulsions.

Positive Thoughts To Change Belief Patterns:  It's not easy...just possible!  It begins by taking control of our thoughts...replacing weak, negative, destructive thought patterns with positive, uplifting, constructive ones.  It may mean we have to shut off the News for a while and read an uplifting book, instead.  Choose programs, movies, books and music that are uplifting and positive.  Repeat positive affirmations in the present tense that change the way you see yourself (i.e. "I always make decisions that support a healthy mind and body." "I see and enjoy the positive side of every situation.")  Spend less time with people who focus on the negative side of life.  Fight off temptations to engage in compulsive behavior by redirecting your thoughts to more productive interests.

Positive Actions To Change Belief Patterns:  Though we can't directly eliminate our compulsive actions, we can change our Belief by spending time in more positive actions.  This can include hobbies, volunteer work, church and club activities, etc.  These actions change our attitude by improving our self-esteem.  Other actions that can improve what you believe about yourself are exercise programs, donating money to worthy causes, letting others go first, helping neighbors and strangers, tipping 30-50%, stopping at every lemonade stand and paying a dollar to the enterprising kid.  Just developing the habit of picking up litter when you see it or paying the toll for the next car can do wonders for your self-esteem.

Over time, as we use the BAR cycle to change our beliefs about ourselves and our lives, the compulsive actions happen less and less often, until one day, we look back and wonder when was the last time we did that.  I look back on who I was and it seems as if it was a whole other person.  If you've been suffering from a compulsion of any kind, the BAR Cycle can be a new key to help unlock your prison and free you to the healthy, productive life you were made for.

If you're looking to improve your health and fitness, you probably want a healthy life...including mind, body and spirit.  You can renew your mind and spirit with God's help.  He can heal the stuff your diet doesn't control.  If you want His help, go to Healing From God.

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