For some time now, the King of Wands has signalled compulsive doing, a restless energy, hyper-activity. For this message, I’m going to talk about compulsive doing as a response to early trauma, as a coping mechanism.
Dr. Daniel Sumrok, Psychiatrist and Director of the Centre for Addiction Sciences at The University of Tennessee Health Science Center’s College of Medicine introduced the idea that Addictions are essentially coping mechanisms and should be renamed “Ritualised Compulsive Comfort-Seeking” behaviour. He also says that at the heart of comfort-seeking such as smoking, alcoholism, excessive shopping and consumption, binge-eating or even spiritual bypassing and excessive doing is a response to an Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE).
Yes, compulsive doing is often classified as an addiction if it is excessive to the degree that it occurs at the cost of one’s own self, sanity, health and wellbeing. Whether it is the urge to keep oneself busy, or it is linked to ideas of ultra-productivity, this constant subconscious need for be “at work” or “fix things” or “remain committed” to others needs, or just masochistic levels of perseverance, many times stems from the inability to just sit with something that needs to simply be witnessed. It very often catapults into compulsively putting the needs of others over one’s own needs.
If one were to trace this back to Adverse Childhood Experiences, it could go back to growing up being less parented than one may have wanted or needed in the early years. This instills the idea that one has to DO something to earn love and belonging, which manifests as compulsive doing to be “useful” to another, to prove ones worthiness of having a place and receiving love. The idea that to be loved, one has to take on the responsibility of doing something, is innate.
I’ve personally been thinking a lot about how I engage with periods when I feel compelled to do nothing. Lately, it has been difficult to allow it without judgement. And I have been wondering what has changed.
I’ve been questioning where my ideas of doing stem from, and if this is a form of ritualised comfort-seeking, what am I soothing? Having grown up in a family that placed a huge premium on teeth-gritting, bone-crushing perseverance as a virtue, with an absurdly high value placed on enduring (self-inflicted) pain, developing strength, commitment, never giving up and constantly being useful for others more than myself, I have grown up without healthy ideas of when it may actually be safe or essential to give up.
This has had catastrophic effects on my relationships, thanks to not having a clue what healthy boundaries look like, or how to keep myself safe. I have worked hard to learn what listening to my body and my inner cues actually means, to know when I need to stop doing, when I need to drop commitment to an unhealthy relationship, when I need to recognise a damaging pattern, and when I need to just sit still in silence. I’ve had to learn boundaries, on my own terms.
Today’s message is about looking at whether you have enough space for rest and recharging in your life. To quote an old adage, you cannot keep giving from an empty cup. If restlessness and compulsive-doing ring true for you, and if you think they may be ritualised comfort-seeking behaviours, is it fundamentally fulfilling an inner need for being loved and accepted?