Productively Obsessing

Image by Ana Krach from Pixabay

Over the years, therapists decided that “obsessive” is a bad word. Like many hijacked words or phrases, obsessive usage shifted... this time to the negative and used to label a person's serious problem.

Websters, obsession: the domination of one’s thoughts or feelings by a persistent idea, image, desire, feelings, etc.

No negative connotation there, as least on the surface. Common psychologist’s definition:

Recurrent and persistent thoughts, impulses, or images that cause distressing emotions, such as anxiety, fear or distress

Most of us probably knew kids (or were one) whose parents took them to therapy because the kid spent too much time drawing, with hobbies, gaming, or fill-in-the-blank. Some of those parents wanted to fix the kid’s “persistent thoughts, impluses...” hoping to make them (in the parent’s eyes) more “normal.” I knew many like that, but can’t say I ever knew any kid “obsessed” with sports where the parents felt the need to intervene.

No question there are good and bad obsessions or obsessive behaviors. We’re safer these days calling someone’s interest their passion versus an obsession. But there’s not much difference between the two words (unless you adopt the therapist’s meaning of obsession).

To be productively obsessing is to elevate from a casual interest in something to more intensity and intention, learning all you can about it, honing your skill, and as a result, producing better work. Such activity impacts our brains positively, working both halves, and can resolve modern maladies such as lack of focus, concentration, sustainability, self-motivation, and more. There is a creative spirit in all of us, one that’s not always tapped, or at least rarely or deeply enough. Brain studies show those who have such passions and obsessiveness light up brain waves and neurons.

Being productively obsessing means pursuing your purpose with full attention and focus, in pursuit of living life to the fullest. The reasons preventing us from doing so can be unique to each of us, or shared common ones. Have you thought about a hobby or interest you’ve always wanted to pursue? Perhaps one where your confidence, self-doubt, or perceptions of others kept you from chasing it? Such barriers often turn out to be soft bricks, easily broken through once the limiting beliefs become obvious.

History is replete with stories of productively obsessing creatives overcoming much more severe bricks in their way. Many people believe (as I do) that being creative is part of what makes us human. The degree, scale, and challenges of those efforts vary dramatically, but the benefits are available to anyone. Let go of behaviors blocking your way and stick your big toe in the water of your passionate-interest pool. Pretty soon you’ll be swimming along happily, wondering what took you so long to get there.

I wrote the above post after reading lots of sources, other blogs on the topic, and thinking on my experiences. I am not a therapist or a psychologist, nor intended to make light of anyone's struggling with what's mentioned above. My intention is to encourage pushing through the barriers if possible, and embracing productive passions or obsessions (the good kind!).

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