Wrestling Our Compulsions

By Mary O’Mallory

When we make the all-too-familiar commitment to wrestle our compulsions into submission, in the long run, it never seems to work the way we want it to. Could it be that we are barking up the wrong tree? Could it be that there is a new way of working with them that brings true and lasting healing?

In order to discover this way, we first need to understand that we are all compulsive to some degree. A compulsion is any recurring activity used to manage our feelings that eventually ends up managing us. We can get compulsive about almost anything: over-spending, over-eating, over-working, over-planning, over-worrying, over-exercising, over-drinking, over-computerizing, or just over-overing. Many people are compulsive without even knowing it. It isn't until the computer crashes or the credit card is canceled or the doctor says you can't eat a high fat diet that it becomes clear how much any particular activity controls your life.

Ultimately, our core compulsion is to struggle - to resist what is. We live in a story in our heads that tells us we need to make ourselves and our lives better or different. In our endless trying, we have forgotten how to be. We have forgotten how to be open to the marvelous and magical adventure that is Life. We have forgotten how to trust ourselves, trust our lives, and live in joy. So we turn to compulsions to numb us out from all of our struggles, only to find ourselves struggling with our compulsions.

Our compulsion to struggle causes such havoc in our lives. What would our lives be like if we could move beyond struggle and reconnect with the joy, the wonder, and the vitality of being truly alive? And how would it feel not just to heal our compulsions, but also to be healed by our compulsions. By healing, I mean that our compulsions no longer overtake our lives. We are healed to the point that we experience again the deep peace that comes from being comfortable in our own skins, knowing that we are okay, life is okay, and everything is going to be okay.

This is the true healing we long for, and the amazing thing is that our compulsions can lead us there. They can bring us home to ourselves, helping us to open what has been closed, to reclaim what has been hidden, and to remember what has been forgotten. This new way moves us from seeing our compulsions as enemies needing to be conquered to recognizing them as guides into a deep and abiding relationship with ourselves and our lives. This new way is about being curious rather than controlling and about responding rather than reacting. Our compulsions thrive in reaction. They heal in response. They won't let go until they teach us how to engage with them, giving the attention and the compassion they need to heal. In the light of our compassionate attention, not only do our compulsions lose their power over us, but they also become a doorway into the healing that we long for.

As many of you know, I once gained 97 pounds in a year, so I know the world of compulsions very well, and I also know how to heal and be healed by my compulsions. So I will hold this healing for all of you, and if there is any other way I can support you, please don't hesitate to let me know.

Be light, Mary

Quote: "This new way of working with compulsions moves us from seeing them as enemies needing to be conquered to recognizing them as guides back into a deep and abiding relationship with ourselves and our lives " -- Mary O'Malley

To learn more about this work, please visit our website at
Also, please click on the Your Gift Movie link in the left sidebar of my website homepage to view a wonderful 3-minute multi-media presentation about this work (also on YouTube), and click on this Blog link to read messages from me and reply or ask questions.





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