Our Imagination is the only limit
to what we can hope to have in the future.
~Charles F. Kettering
Are you obsessed?
Most of us have some sort of obsession from time to time. But some obsessions take hold in a way that disrupts the quality of life; and that’s not the obsession anyone wants.
What are obsessions?
Obsessions are thoughts, images, or ideas that won’t go away. They are unwanted and cause extreme distress. For sure, everyone has unusual or even disturbing thoughts that pop up from time to time… but this is about a gripping obsession that won’t let up—and it takes over and interferes with your daily life.
Obsessions are unwanted, intrusive thoughts, images, or urges that trigger intensely distressing feelings. Obsessions are mixed with compulsive behaviors. Often the obsessions connected to compulsions are repetitive behaviors or a thought that a person engages in to neutralize, counteract, or make their obsessions go away.
What is Your Obsession?
So many of us possess an obsession with something, or perhaps someone. When I first began my recovery from my obsession with food, I realized I had a food addiction, which led to binge eat, which was a long haul of hard days.
That crazy obsession ride I rode brought me to get my master’s degree in mental health and open a practice intending to help others suffering like me.
But that was not enough.
I then earned a doctorate (PhD) in addictions with the focus on food at first, but it morphed into studying many obsessions.
I saw with patients so many struggling with different compulsions. I found, first with myself and then with others, the more you try to ignore or stop your obsessions it only increases your distress and anxiety.
What happens is the obsession drives the person to perform compulsive acts to ease their stress. Despite efforts to ignore or get rid of bothersome thoughts or urges, they keep coming back.
They are pesty grips that won’t release—at least not until you learn how to release.
Until there is a resolution the obsessions often turn into ritualistic behavior—hence, the vicious cycle of obsessive, compulsive disorder (OCD). Obsessive-compulsive disorders centers on certain themes, for example, an excessive fear of getting heavy—or fear of getting contaminated by germs or obsessed with our phone (my newest book Release Your Obsession with Your Phone launched January, 2023).
And to ease your fear, you diet or wash your hands, gamble or maybe you obsess over guilt and not being good enough.
Let the obsessions begin…
Is It Addiction or Obsession or a Combination?
Addictions are another form of an obsession. Or are they in the same form? The major difference between an obsession and an addiction is pleasure. I believe that an obsession usually refers to compulsive behavior that the individual feels driven to do. Even though you might know engaging in this behavior will not benefit you, or may even cause suffering, yet you’re compelled to do it, anyway.
People with addictions continuously seek a pleasurable sensation. Obsessions are rooted in fear, while addiction focuses on desire. People with obsessions are usually aware of their behaviors and will acknowledge their rituals. Those who have addictions may hide their disorder or even deny it exists.
Deciphering the difference is a slippery slope. Often a person thinks they are suffering from an obsession when it’s an addiction and vice versa. The lines blur between the two. When obsessing, the ritualistic routine becomes part of the everyday life and when addicted, you never feel satisfied unless using the substance.
It’s tough to sort through the two as they often coexist together—sort of like the chicken before the egg argument. Rather than focus on the ritual, as the obsessor will, the substance abuse person is about a mental escape from reality.
Personally, I find obsessive and addictive behaviors co-mingle regularly so I wrote about these experiences. I guess you could say I became obsessed with obsessions.
I started a website, Weightcontroltherapy.com, to help people remove their obsession with dieting and their weight, along with some addicted to food with a food addiction. To see it as weight control, whether it’s weight up or weight down or a compulsion or addiction, was and is my quest. The goal was to stabilize and move away from the obsession—or addiction—or both.
On my website, I carved out different recipes and content on food addiction and binge eating disorder. But again, I realized those that experience some kind of food addiction or eating disorder also possess other obsessions. It was at this point I wrote books addressing obsessions and addictions from different angles.
Some suffer from OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) while others engage in full-blown drug addictions. Fear drives obsessions, but I found they all crossed into each other.
I saw patients obsessing over their body dysmorphia or aging or fear of becoming an adult. It was at this point I birthed my series of obsessions.
All my books revolve around obsessions and all circle back to body image or weight images of some sort—that sense of not being good enough. One obsession often morphs into another.
I see patients that came to me for gambling addictions, but then as we looked closer we found weight obsessions and money obsessions, along with aging obsessions and other compulsions or rituals taking up residence in their head and behaviors.
I found one obsession is just an opening to another obsession, which is why we need to release our obsessions, which is the major theme of every single book I write and every single blog I post.
What is your obsession? We all obsess over something. Maybe you’re a germaphobe, and squeamish about catching something. Of course, with the coronavirus, fears of getting sick popped up for many. Please share your obsession—you are in good company.
Thank you for being a part of the reading blog forum and spending time with me and my thoughts throughout these pages. I hope my words lit your excitement to become your best self for you. I look forward to sharing my newest book with you on how to release your obsession with your Phone. God bless you… and your journey through this life and all that awaits beyond…
To learn more about recovery from food addiction, eating disorders, weight issues, dieting, aging, money, and your phone, please check out my Release Your Obsession Series.
Stay tuned… you never know where my mind will wander…
Obsessions vs Addictions
Thank you for explaining the difference. The picture of Reset Your Mind definitely has piqued my interest…
Yes, we can reset our mind by changing our thoughts. Asking is this real or imagined and what would it be like if it’s imagined? A thought to ponder for sure.
Thank you for sharing thoughts from your brilliant brain!! My neurotransmitters needed the exercise.
Lisa, this blog was helpful, especially the line “the more you try to ignore or stop your obsessions it only increases your distress and anxiety”. I found this to be very true. If I tell you to not think about a green elephant, you will likely think about a green elephant. Its counterintuitive but the more we try to control these thoughts, the larger they become. What’s the best way to make obsessive unwanted thoughts go away if trying to make them go away only gives them more power? Its a tough situation. The one thing that helped me is to say to myself “This thought doesn’t count; it doesn’t matter and even though its distressing to me, the larger universe doesn’t care about it”. This type of belief system made the unwanted thoughts less powerful and therefore less frequent in my life. Maybe such advice will help another who is struggling with trying to make obsessive thoughts go away. Thanks
Thank you Saima for your wise words that are sure to help many. For sure if we attempt to push the thoughts to go away they only increase, but to frame the thought the way you did is quite powerful. Thank you!