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The BAR Cycle is a 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. 

The BAR Cycle And Compulsive Behavior

Why do we do what we do?  Human motivation has been the subject of countless studies and many more to come.  Based on the recovery rate, with the billions of hours devoted to addiction, abuse, eating disorders, phobias and other compulsive behavior, human motivation is clearly not an exact science.  This article may not be for you if you're looking for graduate level book learnin'.  But, if you're looking for the lessons learned over decades by a man battling his own destructive compulsions, read on.

Compulsive Behavior BAR CycleMy story includes chronic phobia, anger, self-loathing, addictions to alcohol, sex, drugs, food and cigarettes.  These compulsions had predictable impacts on my careers and relationships, leaving me with only the family members who tolerated me and my partners in the "low life."  In my 30's, with the help of God and Marsha (now my wife of 20 years), I began a long battle toward a life free of compulsion.  I can't say I've totally arrived, but most of my fears and addictions are things of the past.  What's left is an occasional bout of overeating and occasional sexual temptations...I'm guessing, much like everyone else.  Here are some of the most popular books on controlling human compulsive behavior.  In my journey, I picked up a human motivation cycle from someone, and don't remember the book or author.  What I do remember is how well the cycle applied to the cause and solution of every one of my compulsions.  Since I don't recall the exact terms, I've come to call it the BAR Cycle.; B.A.R. stands for Belief, Action and Results.  The cycle applies to all human motivation and behavior issues, including addictions and compulsions.  It's a tool for understanding why we do the things we do.  Belief generates action that creates results that strengthen or weaken the belief.

Belief is what motivates all our actions.  Beliefs about ourselves, our friends, our jobs, etc.  If I told you your house was on fire and you didn't believe me, you would do noting.  If you did believe me, you would take a different course of action.  We can't continually act in a way that is inconsistent with our beliefs.  This is why an anorexic is compelled to starve himself...he believes he's fat even when he isn't.

Action flows from belief.  This is why we can't just change our actions and, say, not do it any more.  Because an alcoholic believes he needs to drink to make up for a void he sees in himself, until that belief is changed, he won't be able to quit drinking on more than a temporary basis.

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.

Concluded at Bar Cycle-2

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