Preye Raymond is a leading content writer who enjoys a blend of pragmatism in his self-help topics.
Obsessions like all addictions can be intoxicating. It fuels our energy and leaves us with a sigh of relief when we enable them.
A definition by Alex Lickerman M.D gives a unique perspective;
“Obsession is an iron mask that permits us to gaze in only one direction at one thing...”
It is normal as humans to get easily obsessed over people, places, goals, dreams, work, etc, because of how emotionally attached we are to things, events, and experiences around us.
Why Obsessions Can be Self-Destructive
If we allow our obsessions get out of hand, we would start to neglect and devalue some important parts of our lives.
When the object of our obsession fades or becomes no longer accessible, we tend to crack, become emotional vulnerable, and then give up on ourselves.
The delusion that the source of our obsessions can be a source of comfort is probably why obsessions can be self-destructive.
These attributes and traits are common with those diagnosed of OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder). Obsessions if allowed brings a certain level of compulsion that if not tended to, can lead to depression, fear, anger, anxiety and lack of self-control.
This post hopes to break down five common self-destructive obsessions you need to give up, so as to prevent some dangerous addictions and compulsions that can affect your mental stability.
I) Obsession over Perfection
We often get obsessed with perfection that it tears us apart when we are hit with the unpredictable realities of life that tell us otherwise.
In most cases, the strive for perfection has led to so many achievements and successes in life’s challenging journey.
However, the common sense that should be derived here is that we can only ‘strive’ not ‘become’, and we would keep striving until the conclusion of our life’s chapter.
Another significant point is to differentiate the language of ‘success’ from ‘perfection’.
Most people often make the blunder of understanding both terminologies as one,i.e, if you are successful then you must be perfect, or born perfect.
Therefore, those who are not successful or who don’t become successful are imperfect beings. This is not just mere logic but a social stigma and misconception.
Because of this misconception, people put themselves under unnecessary pressure and compulsion to become perfect, such that it becomes obsessive.
Learn to be comfortable with the idea of imperfection. Strive for perfection but not to ‘become perfect’.
It is important to know that -successful people don't live a perfect life. They make mistakes and errors as you do.
The only slight difference between you and them is that they don’t allow their mistakes to stop them, and you shouldn't either.
ii) Prioritizing Attraction as a Standard for Recognition (social obsession)
This sterns from the first point concerning perfection, however it has its own distinct problem.
Lately this sort of obsession has been caused by the antics of pop-culture and social media trends.
People are becoming more and more obsessed with beauty and looking fashionable that they are going through extreme measures.
In Nigeria, 62% of adult ebony-skinned male and female use bleaching creams, like it is locally called, and other cosmetic products to change their skin color from black to white.
Looking and feeling ‘light-skinned’ is now the standard for attraction.
Most African and black-American women, take pills, use gears and undergo multiple surgical procedures so they can appear more alluring and attractive so as to gain recognition in the social trends of civilization.
Some of these cosmetic pills, products and gears are designed to have side-effects that can cause major health issues (physically or mentally) in the long run.
Trying to stay attractive can be an obsession if allowed, and those who have such obsessions can become; insecure, narcissistic and anxious.
The solution for this sort of obsession is to be comfortable in your own skin. You don’t always have to go with what is trendy or ‘lit’ to feel confident or happy.
Always remember that those who are obsessed with attraction or beauty, do so from a place of insecurity and social anxiety.
iii) Obsessing over Validation
This sort of obsession arises from the constant need to seek positive opinions from others about who we are.
Obsession towards chasing validation can be quite difficult to give up, because it is natural for us to yearn for the feeling of love, appreciation and acknowledgment especially when we dish out those feelings to others, but! It can be toxic to our mental health when those feelings are not reciprocated.
The dependence on the opinion of others about who we are automatically gives them control to regulate our confidence and self-esteem at will.
It is good to receive compliments and to have the occasional stare from an admirer who perhaps has a ‘crush’ without having to care much.
However when it boils down to those who are close to us or those we adore, chasing their validation can become an obsession for several reasons:
- You are obsessed with such a person as a result of your uncontrollable love and adoration for his or her character.
- The feeling that you have to prove yourself, especially cases were the individual on several occasions have made you feel inferior or inadequate.
- The importance and value of that individual (or group of individual) to your life or career, for instance, a celebrity valuing the opinions of his fans.
- The feeling that they are always right and their words count for something. Cases like these are prominent among those who highly adore their mentors, favorite celebrity and life-coaches.
A positive way to give up this obsession is to simply learn to validate yourself! It may sound corny or appear as lazy writing, but this is the best way out when done with the right practice, such as;
- Taking a pen an paper and writing down 10 things you like about yourself. This practice will enable you understand your self-worth and values.
- Reciting positive affirmations that reflects self-love and self-care.
- Viewing self-love as a reasonable and healthy mindset rather than viewing it as a selfish or arrogant act.
- Staying productive: this is a guaranteed practice for increasing your confidence and value.
IV) Obsessing over Purpose & Goals
It is difficult and often impossible, to achieve without being just a little bit obsessed. Although it has to be properly harnessed, in a manner whereby, we don’t serve our obsessions in order to accomplish our goals or purpose.
As a matter of fact, obsessions, when made to serve us can bring out the proper motivation and ingenuity we need to resolve incredibly difficult problems.
While striving towards our goals and fulfilling our passion, we should endeavor to explore and engage our natural energies and capabilities.
Oftentimes, people get obsessed over following their purpose that they become restless, impatient and desperate all in the name of ‘trying to achieve’. Therefore, turning something productive into a self-destructive activity, case in point - those who enjoy taking shortcuts.
V) Harboring Intrusive Thoughts
This can be seen as a slippery slope from the four obsessions discussed above. A psychological cataclysm resulting from our inability to check our obsessions.
Overthinking and uncontrollable compulsions are struggles to understand questions such as: what is right and wrong? who am I? what do others think of me? and what am I doing?
And these common questions and thought patterns sets a precedence for these obsessions, that is; to become perfect, beautiful, feel appreciated, become self-fulfilled, etc.
The truth is we can’t help but to have these obsessive thoughts, but we can control them to our advantage.
Therapist have predominantly recommended distractions or observations of these thoughts as a sure and simple solution.
However what is more pragmatic, is identifying these obsessions individually, and dealing with them one after the other, rather than applying one simple solution to suppress a heap of obsessive issues.
Almost all obsessions have similar symptoms, It starts by singling out one from the mix.
Definitely you can’t have all, and even if you do, there is a root cause which you must address so others can wither away.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2021 Preye Raymond
Preye Raymond (author) from Nigeria on October 14, 2021:
Thanks for giving a proper addition to that premise.
Chinyere Okoye from Anambra ,Awka on October 14, 2021:
"The delusion that the source of our obsessions can be a source of comfort is probably why obsessions can be self-destructive."
Yeah! you're right. That is the reason some people overreact towards mild issues.
We have to control our consuming passion for certain precautionary measures.