Compulsive behavior is performing an act repeatedly and persistently. Unless the behavior leads to physical or emotional problems, it is usually nothing to cause concern.

Many compulsive habits are age related, such as rocking or thumb sucking. A very young child may find it necessary to close doors, put everything away in a particular order, or check an area for the certain placement of objects or condition before leaving it. Parents sometimes worry about these behaviors, but they are simply a part of a child’s maturing and learning that he has control over some aspects of his environment.


How to Determine If You Should Be Concerned

Years ago, we called particular people who wanted to get everything right perfectionists. Now we refer to them as OCD. However, is it really bad to have a desire to do our best?

Ask yourself if you are participating in a behavior you are enjoying or if you are doing something you do not enjoy, because you feel compelled to do so. If you simply enjoy the behavior, there is probably nothing to worry about. However, repetitious action that you do not enjoy, but cannot stop, is an indication of a problem.

If a compulsion becomes physically or emotionally damaging, you should discuss treatment options with your doctor.

How to Stop an Undesired Compulsive Habit 

If you wish to stop a behavior, the best technique is to limit the amount of time you allow yourself to engage in that behavior. You can also substitute one activity for another. For example, if you love candy and constantly want to nibble, try gum chewing instead. Physical activity, such as dancing or exercising is also an excellent diversion. Many people find meditation along with yoga helps them control their compulsive behavior.

Understanding why you have a particular habit can also help you break it. Therapy can help you understand the reason for your compulsive behavior. In severe cases, your doctor may prescribe medication to assist you in stopping a harmful behavior.

Joining a group of individuals can be effective in helping you stop a behavior. There are groups for compulsive gamblers, shoppers, drinkers, eaters, and many other compulsive behaviors. You can explore the Internet for support groups in your area.

Other tips for controlling a compulsive habit are:

  • Structure your day to avoid situation that trigger the undesired habit.
  • Establish new behaviors to replace the destructive ones.
  • Set rules to follow about engaging in the habit to help you stop.
  • Change the way you think about the habit. Make a list of undesirable traits of the compulsive habit you wish to break. Think about all the reasons to stop whenever you want to engage in the habit.
  • Learn to enjoy behaviors you can control.
  • Rehearse how you will respond to cues that set you up to participate in the undesirable habit.


Remember. Frequently those little habits and compulsive behaviors make up our personality. We are a sum of all our behaviors, both desirable and undesirable. You may decide to keep a particular behavior if it is not irritating to others, and does not harm you emotionally or physically, because it makes you who you are. Loving ourselves and taking joy in those singular idiosyncrasies some may call compulsive habits is both healthy and makes us interesting individuals.

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