I have a confession to make. I can at times be prone to obsess over things.
Whether it’s the way someone has treated me or a mistake I’ve made, sometimes I get a negative thought in my head and like a pit bull, I struggle to let it go.
Important Note – I am not a medical professional or trained therapist, so if you have a severe problem with obsessing, depression, anxiety or suspect you may be struggling with a mental illness, please seek help from a medical professional.
If like me, your obsessing is on the lighter side of the scale, I do have a few tips that can help you stop obsessing.
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Be aware then break the loop
I’m sure we’ve all had those times when a negative, annoying or just plain stupid thought keeps going around and around in our brain.
It’s a bit like when you get a song stuck in your head and you can’t stop humming it, though of course, negative thoughts can be a lot more damaging than a bad 80’s tune!
When you get stuck in a negative pattern, it is important that you take control of your thoughts and don’t let them spiral out of control.
Remember, you are in control.
Usually what works for me is realizing I am obsessing and literally telling myself to stop, then finding something (not another obsession) to think about instead. I find that by being aware of my behavior and making a conscious effort to alter it, I can usually stop it quickly.
Taking a couple of big deep breaths to calm ourselves certainly helps as well.
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Focus on what is important
As I mentioned, distracting yourself by thinking about something else can help.
For a better, more permanent solution focus on what is important. Distracting yourself with something trivial may only be a quick fix before you flick back into obsessing.
Focusing on something important can change your state of mind completely.
Since I am laser-focused on my blog at the moment, if I find myself obsessing about something trivial in my personal life, I get my thoughts back on what’s important to me.
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Finally, I have discovered a way to make procrastination work for me!
One technique I use when I am worrying or obsessing is to think to myself – that is tomorrow’s problem. I will worry about that tomorrow.
The great part about this plan of attack is that most of the time, it isn’t a problem the next day. The problem hasn’t materialized or I no longer see it as a problem since I stopped obsessing about it.
If you haven’t already noticed, this obsessing gig can be a bit of a vicious circle. The sooner you stop the cycle, the better.
Occasionally there might still be an issue I have to deal with, which I take on board and work through.
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Don’t always think the worst
I mentioned this in an earlier post, Do we make life more complicated?
I find this is worth mentioning here because, despite our best intentions, we tend to get bogged down in this worst-case scenario thinking.
When you are in obsession mode, the worst-case scenario is an easy leap. Suddenly you find yourself in a panic about something that hasn’t happened yet.
Worrying about things that have not happened can be one of the most common forms of worry. It can also suck away at your energy, motivation, and enthusiasm if you let it.
If you have to project ahead, think of the most likely scenario and how you will deal with that (should it happen), instead of the worst-case one.
If you crave less stress in your life, CreativeLive has an excellent online course Stress is Optional that could be just what you are looking for. Read through the curriculum of the course, to see if it suits your needs.
Face the person
I am the first to admit this won’t work for everyone.
If I am obsessing about an incident that occurred with another person, I find the best way to overcome my negative thoughts is by spending quality time with the person.
I am not talking about a confrontation here. If you are really angry with someone, I’m not suggesting you spend time with them (what you probably need is time away from them to cool off).
When I spend time with someone I’ve been obsessing about, a strange thing often happens.
The issue goes away by itself, usually because I realize it was a trivial problem, to begin with, or I blew a particular incident out of proportion. Sometimes I realize there was a valid issue where someone wronged me but simply make the decision that it’s not worth losing sleep over or damaging my relationship with the person.
Often we need to decide to not let something bother us so we can stop obsessing over it.
I hope these tips can help you stop obsessing. Less obsessing means a calmer, happier and more peaceful life.
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