Have you ever wondered why sometimes you don’t achieve the desired result after all your efforts and aspirations? I would like to talk about the concept of Secondary Gain. A secondary gain is when we get a positive advantage from negative behaviour, feeling, or even illness. Usually, secondary gains are hidden deeply in our subconscious. You might not be aware of the reasons for your physical pain, addiction or problematic behaviour. For example, losing weight. Sometimes, no matter how much you go on diets, start a gym membership, make a New Year’s resolutions to lose weight still, nothing works. Inability to lose weight is a “negative behaviour", and the secondary gain’s "positive advantage" could be some of the following:
- Your appearance gives you extra credibility in society. For instance, if you have a high managerial role that you might not be ready for, then you become more prominent physically.
- Fear of starting a new relation or a new way of life.
- Insecurity, maybe you are frightened of being more attractive.
- Perhaps you tell yourself that with age everyone is getting bigger and this is your way of accepting your age.
- You are simply comfortable with your complexion and not ready for a change.
There might be many reasons why, and they are unique for every person.
Another example is anxiety in children, which could be a call for parent’s attention. A secondary gain, in this case, would be the love and care children receive when they feel anxious.
I am not saying any of these are rules. It could be just one of the keys explaining “why” you do have some symptom or behave in a certain way. It is an exciting concept to think about, and to help us look for clues in our day-to-day life to better understand ourselves.