How can I overcome an obsessed relationship
"He was just -" my patient felt for the right words, "- pretty great."
She was talking about her boyfriend - or rather her ex-boyfriend. He had recently ended their relationship and she had come to me now, a few months later, unable to shake herself out of the funk in which he had left her.
Surprisingly, she didn't feel bad about him for breaking up with her. "I understand why he left," she told me. "He said I was just not right for him. I see. I wish I were, but I have the same feeling for a lot of men. He's no longer in control of how he feels about me than I do. " I'm in control of how I still feel for him. "
And how she still felt for him came to me after our conversation in which she described how she thought of him all the time, purposely going to places she knew he was visiting, and the constant effort, didn't Picking up the phone to call him, the easiest way to sum it up in one word: obsessed.
The depth of obsession
At its worst, obsession is an iron mask that allows us to look at one thing in only one direction - or, to use a different metaphor, a huge tidal wave that crashes through our minds, washing away all other worries. We may be obsessed with a person, a place, a goal, a topic - but obsession is the same in all cases: addiction.
Like all addictions, obsession is exhilarating. It fills us and what a relief that feeling is (especially when we felt empty before). But even when we didn't feel empty, obsession makes us feel strong, capable, and purposeful.
But like all addictions, obsession with time throws us off balance. We often begin to neglect parts of our lives that we shouldn't. If we are allowed to become too consuming, obsession leads us to devalue important dimensions of our life and tolerate their atrophy and even their breakdown. But even when our lives remain in balance, when the object of our obsession is stolen from us, as my patient was, we are devastated and often convinced that we have lost our last chance of happiness.
The top of the obsession
But this belief is a delusion. Our happiness never depends on one thing, no matter how important that one thing may be.
We must also recognize that it is difficult, if not often impossible, to achieve something great without being a little obsessed with it. Indeed, the heightened energy, drive, determination, and resilience obsessions, when used properly, can be very adaptable. Obsession, if it is to serve us, can bring out our most capable selves and motivate us to find the creativity and ingenuity to solve incredibly difficult problems. In short, obsession can lead us to greatness.
HOW TO CONTROL AN OWNERSHIP
The challenge then is to make our obsessions work positively, to control them so that they don't control us, and to take advantage of the obsession without succumbing to its disadvantages. The following strategies can help you do this:
- Distract yourself at different intervals. Using willpower to tame an obsession is like fighting to overcome fear by denying that it exists: rarely does it do anything other than make it worse. Instead, find something attractive and enjoyable to distract you from your obsession and give you a break from thinking. This will remind you emotionally that other things are still important in life. Read an exciting novel, watch an entertaining movie, and help a friend in need. Do something that will take you out of your own mind.
- Do a task that will help you get rid of your obsession. Sometimes an obsession keeps us in its power and refuses to let us go because we're just not done with it. Maybe we haven't revised a book chapter, haven't planned the final details of a trip, haven't asked anyone we have a crush on. Tell yourself when you've reached the next milestone, take a break. Taking solid steps forward frequently can temporarily break the obsession with recharging your batteries. And when you do, you are turning back to something else in your life that you have neglected.
- Focus on your bigger mission. As I wrote in a previous post, The Importance of a Mission, when you find and accept a mission in life, you are being defended against the sense that your life is meaningless. And when you can attend to a mission that somehow brings joy to others or removes suffering from them, you will be more anchored, upright, and balanced when a wave of obsessive thoughts rises you.
- Adopt a practice that justifies you. Song Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo. Meditate. Pick up karate. Or dance. Do something physical in a different setting to occupy a different part of your mind that is interested in other things besides your obsession. Let the time go by. Over time, many obsessions gradually lose their flavor.
- Listen to what others say to you. If your close friends and family have concerns about your obsession, they are probably right. Be open to this news.
I'm not arguing here that we should try Clear Obsession; I argue we should try control it. Our ability to bend our emotions to our will is bad, but our ability to do so is not manage You. We can make our obsessions work to the us instead of overworking ourselves. And we can learn to let them go when the time comes.
As my patient did with her obsession with her boyfriend. Early on she failed in her attempts to tear her mind away from him. So she allowed herself to indulge in fantasies by making up, but always reminding herself that that was exactly what they were: fantasies. She practiced distracting herself with other things that she found really interesting. Gradually she was able to distract herself for longer and longer periods of time without thinking about him, remembering that while he still felt like the most important thing in her life, it clearly wasn't. She knew intellectually that at some point in the future she would look back on her time with him lovingly and without pain. She just needed her emotions to catch up with her intellect. And finally, she reported almost twelve months later, they did.
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