Ask: How do I deal with obsessions and compulsions?

I am a recovering anorexic/bulimic, alcoholic, codependent. I have been studying ACIM for 2 years, and have felt the benefits of it. My one goal is "salvation", to know and be love. However, i have a lingering obsession, i feel that i must walk a certain amount each day.  if i don't do it i feel guilty because i feel like I broke an unspoken rule i established, and if i do it feel guilty because i feel like i'm giving into the obsession… i know ultimately guilt is the belief in separation.  but knowing this and having this truly change me isn't coming on this point.  my mind feels torn.  so i guess the question is how to deal with obsessive thinking and compulsive behaviors… the problem is that my thoughts about the whole thing are totally conflicted.  i think it is because of my history… – KL

            First, you may need to evaluate whether you need medication and therapy to deal with your illness. These will not remove your underlying belief in guilt but they may help you manage intrusive thoughts induced by a chemical imbalance that make it difficult for you to get down to your belief in guilt. Drugs and therapy are called for when you have thoughts that disrupt your life rather than just make you feel conflicted or uncomfortable.
            Behaviors, like emotions, are caused by thoughts, so you only need to deal with your thoughts and your emotions and behaviors will change. You hit on what is going on with “I feel like I broke an unspoken rule I established”. You set these rules for yourself to deal with guilt. You feel that you need to be a good or right or perfect person to appease a punishing god. In the absence of rules given to you, you set your own in the hopes that this god will be pleased and not punish you so much for your intrinsic guilt.
            The ego is the opposite of God so for it to believe in its own existence it must believe that it killed God. When you identify with it you believe that you killed God. You accept this because your limitless mind is not in its natural state when it identifies with a limited self. You are uncomfortable and you interpret your discomfort as guilt for killing God.
If you believe that guilt is real then you must believe that you will be punished. Any need you feel to be good or right or perfect or to control the world comes down to a belief in intrinsic guilt and a punishing god. (If God is dead how can It punish you? Don’t expect the ego to make sense. That it knows deep down that God is not dead and that it does not really exist is why the ego is so insecure). The belief in guilt and a punishing god are the center of the ego thought system. It is not going to change, which is why you need to release the ego to be at peace. You do this by looking at your unconscious and conscious beliefs in guilt and fear so that you can release them.
            In A Course in Miracles the word “God” refers to the Limitless Being that is Truth or Reality. God is your True Being, not a power over you. Whenever you feel guilt and fear, in whatever form, turn your mind inward and remember your experiences of God. Since you experience God, God cannot be dead. This undoes the ego’s basis for guilt. And God is the Power within you, not a power over you. There is no power over you. You will need to remind yourself of this over and over as you root out all of the ways that you believe in intrinsic guilt and a punishing power over you. In time you will release your belief in guilt and your need to control the self and its environment will fall away.

            (This article coincides nicely with the release of my new book, Releasing Guilt for Inner Peace. It addresses in-depth the ideas expressed in this answer. You can learn more about it at

Learn more about the books The ACIM Mentor Articles, The Plain Language A Course in Miracles, 4 Habits for Inner Peace, and new! Releasing Guilt for Inner Peace new! at

If you have a question the answer to which you think will help others send it to and indicate that you want it answered in the ACIM Mentor Newsletter/Blog.


will said…

A very good mentor blending of Course and Life.
To expand on that....

I'm dealing with my own obsessions and compulsions and I find myself skipping around the workbook for students and allow Spirit to guide me with what lesson would be good to look at....

Currently, I'm working on giving up illusions.. and I read somewhere that it's judging the illusion that gives it power.

That said, I was recently drawn to looking at lessons 127-130 in the workbook for students. I think these lessons have helped me a lot to let an obsession/compulsion loosen it's grip of power.

Lesson 128: "The world I see has nothing that I want"

This lesson is about seeing how what you value binds you to the world. To go back to the idea of guilt... and perhaps I'm only speaking for myself... but see if you can relate to this in regard to the lesson.

There's this tendency to value things that we think we're lacking or we put value on things that in our mind we think enhance our own value.

Here's a direct quote from lesson 128:

"Each thing you value here is but a chain that binds you to the world, and it will serve no other end but this. For everything must serve the purpose you have given it until you see a different purpose there. The only purpose worthy of your mind this world contains is that you pass it by, without delaying to perceive some hope where there is none. Be you deceived no more. The world you see has nothing you that want."

And this has proven very helpful in dealing with obsessions/compulsions. There's nothing to obsess over when you get that the world you see has nothing that you want.

Anyway, i look at the workbook and let spirit guide me to the lessons. I'd love to do the lessons in order one day! But, somehow I always find the "right" lesson.
One other thing, to quote the course, but I can't find where I got this quote at the moment, sorry.

your salvation is in your loving thoughts.

So, that said, go for your walk, but work at changing your conversation around it. your rules are illusory and it's judging them that gives them power.
will said…
Liz's piece is worth reading over two or three times. It's short but there is a lot in there to hear.

If you have real obsessions and compulsions you have probably found out over time they are very difficult to get under control. From my own experience trying to deal with these without outside help of some kind will over time fail. Your trying to fix the problem using the thing that caused it in the first place. If you get interested in the Course go ahead and do the lessons as the Course advises. My take on it is that doing the lessons opens communication with the Holy Spirit. You may not experience the Holy Spirit or have a hard time understanding what the Course means it but it will open communication and then over time healing.
will said…

Reading your post again this morning I think I would be careful reading and acting on quotes like you have posted from page 127-128. It sets you up to fail. The Course is a long term commitment. It is written towards those with a long term commitment. Taking quotes like "The world I see has nothing that I want" or "The only purpose worth of your mind this world contains is that you pass it by" and trying to think and live in those terms is probably not a good idea. May I suggest you invest a small amount of time and money and set up a few mentor sessions with Liz? That's what she is there for.

Jesus doesn't say anywhere in the Course that His teaching will give some people a way out of the illusory world, but others will have to take medication. That would sort of defeat His purpose.

To give you my honest opinion, which really means nothing, but since it appears to me that you're looking for a response -- if we're giving power to a false idol, such as medications, then we're not believing in the Miracles that the Course has to offer.

That said, The message of the Course is clear, wherever you open the book. And, if you get the Course, then you understand a 'time line' is an illusion and thus, it doesn't matter where you begin the workbook lessons. Spirit is always communicating to each and everyone of us in exactly the way we need to hear it.

I whole heartedly believe in the Course and I don't question directs quotes from Jesus in any way --- I certainly don't see how paying attention to any direct quote from Jesus could possible "set me up to fail" as you put it.

I wish you all the best with your study.
will said…

The Course is pretty clear that you take meds or get medical help if you need it. Always. I think it is the Church of Christ, Scientists (Christian Science) that does this sort of thing.

In any case I am enjoying the conversation with you but I think we are getting into areas that are pretty complicated and will let Liz take it from here.


If that's true, then I'd appreciate a direct quote and page number where I could reference it. Thank you
will said…

Let me say a couple of things that might be helpful.
I am in no way talking down to you, judging your sincerity or ability to do the Course. I'm really not. Having someone to talk to on this site is very enjoyable.

If you believe Jesus or the Holy Spirit either wrote the Course or had a definite part in it and have left specific instructions on how to do it why would you say "No I'm going to do it my way."

I have been studying and practicing the Course for nine years. I tell you that because there are very serious traps in doing the Course. If I can point out some of them maybe you won't have to go through as much frustration as I did, as everyone does.

It takes two to three years of studying and practice to 'begin' to understand what the Course is saying. It has absolutely NOTHING to do with how smart you are. It is an experiential course not an intellectual one. Your understanding of the Course comes through the Holy Spirit. He determines the pace.

I'll stop there. I encourage you to email Liz. There is a box on her Home Page that says "email liz." She always answers her emails. Tell her that you are involved in a discussion on the Blog "How do I deal with Obsessions and compulsions." She will almost certainly know this already.

Glad to keep talking with you, I enjoy it very much but I also want to do what is in your best interest and that's where the suggestions come from.


will said…
Well Swan the people I have showed our conversation to have said to leave you alone your happy where you are.

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