We can become obsessed with getting revenge, looking gorgeous, winning back an ex-love, achieving a goal … pretty much anything! However obsessions are exhausting and stop us from enjoying the here and now. They strip us of energy. You cannot overcome an obsession immediately, so I suggest you think about first taming your obsession rather than being able to instantly offload it. Although if you acknowledge you have an obsession you have already taken a huge step. Admitting you have a problem is the first step towards solving it.
Okay, you basically need to keep functioning and you must seek to control your obsession rather than letting it control you. So if you can’t automatically rid your mind of an obsession what can you do? I suggest giving these steps below a go.
1. Distract yourself frequently.
Using the power of the mind to conquer an obsession won’t work. Instead, you must find something pleasurable to distract you. Thinking about the same thing all the time is boring to an obsessed person! Find something nice to think about so you get a break from your obsession. This will help teach you on an emotional level that other things in life are still important. Read a good novel, watch a new movie, or care for a friend in need. Do something that takes you out of your own obsessed mind!
2. Accomplish a job that helps put the obsession behind you.
Often we obsess because it distracts us from pain in our lives, like loneliness or grief. Do something that makes you feel proud of yourself so you are less likely to obsess. Buy some new clothes, get a makeover, go to the gym, visit a new place, finish a work or creative project. Give yourself a reason to focus on you and not the person or thing you are preoccupied with.
3. Focus on your life goals.
Think long and hard about what you want to achieve and who you are. Focus on the big picture and life won’t seem meaningless. Support a good cause. If you're able to care about a mission that in some way brings joy to you or removes suffering for others, you'll feel more anchored and balanced when a wave of obsession is on you.
4. Adopt a practice that grounds you like meditation or exercise.
Engage a different part of your mind that's interested in other things besides your obsession. Learn a foreign language or take up a new hobby.
5. Allow time to pass.
With time, many obsessions gradually diminish but not all!
6. Listen to what people tell you.
If friends and family express concern over your being obsessed, they're probably right. Remember at first you are not trying to stop your obsessions but tame or control it. Our ability to bend our emotions to our will is poor, but not our ability to manage them. Gradually teach yourself to spend less time obsessing.
More methods to stop obsessing.
Mason Cooley once wrote: “The cure for an obsession: get another one.” Well, most obsessives already follow that pattern instead I’ll advocate a total change of behaviour. Think of your mind as a car driving down a highway. Whenever you obsess about a regret or lost love or grievance, picture your car having run off the road into a tree or onto the grass because that’s what has happened. You are off course! When you are obsessed you need to imagine a car that’s run off the road. Visualise it every time you obsess or imagine a stop sign then try to stop obsessing! Other people do things like put an elastic band around their wrist and snap it every time they think of their obsession. Give yourself a good twang.
Another physical method of controlling an obsession is to move. If you start to obsess at work go to the bathroom or make a cup of tea. At home, walk around the block or drop and do ten push-ups.
Every time you think of your obsession, get angry and tell yourself off. Do not indulge yourself. Look at how your obsession relates to your past. Are you trying to make amends for something that happened long ago? Did you never feel really loved by a parent and now you obsess about unobtainable people?
Try a different outlook. Tell yourself to let go of your grudge – you don’t need revenge, it was only a small setback. Or tell yourself that the person you desire probably wouldn’t make you happy and, like all of us, has flaws! Have the courage to laugh at yourself. Yes, you are a record player stuck on a groove, but it is just a phase and it will pass.
Most importantly value yourself and tell yourself that you are a very fine person, and you don’t need anything to complete you. You are super the way you are, and not lacking in any way shape or form. I suggest doing some positive-affirmations morning and night as you work your way out of your obsession. Good luck!
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ABOUT PAT MESITI
Pat Mesiti is a best-selling author, coach and educator in the area of personal development. Having built some of Australia’s largest people-driven organisations, Pat understands the power of harnessing human potential. He has shared the stage with some of the world’s great business minds and has sold over millions of copies of his books and materials.