Though obsessive love is not widely recognised as a mental health condition, it can be a powerful and destabilising emotional experience. Obsessive patterns of thinking have the effect of locking the mind of the sufferer into a maze of unwanted, intrusive, and distressing thoughts. They can easily lead to other problems, an increase in anxiety and depressed mood and problems with sleep and with concentration.
Obsessional thinking feeds obsessional thinking, and the obsessive person cannot often find no more than temporary relief from their intense preoccupations. When those thoughts are fixed upon someone, a particular person they desire and want to be with, they can be tormenting. So what can we do about this? how might we stop obsessing over someone?
Obsessional thinking undermines emotional stability
Finding yourself obsessing over someone can be destabilising, and when we are caught up in the energy of obsessive-compulsive thinking it feels impossible to separate and think about the obsession. The loved one becomes like a physical object, like a possession that must be obtained at all costs. We fear that if don’t obtain it we will suffer more. As our minds become fixated, as obsessional thinking starts to dominate us, our emotional stability becomes affected.
Sometimes becoming obsessed with someone is an indicator of an underlying attachment problem. Rather like in cases of retroactive jealousy, we are obsessing about the person not because of who they are, but because of our own underlying issues.
It is often the case that obsessive thinking is standing in for older emotional and psychological questions and problems, but caught in the grip of it there is little room to consider what the problem may relate to or what may underlie it.
We develop our patterns of attachment in our early years but it is often not until we mature that we can start to recognise these attributes of ourselves.
Obsessing over someone can be a disturbing experience; we can feel as though we have lost control of our thoughts and feelings, and this can drive us towards impulsive and regrettable actions. We might not be able to resist contacting the person we are obsessing about when we shouldn’t, which in turn creates further problems for us and increases the grip of the obsession.
Social media can add fuel to the fire, providing a space for us to funnel our obsession about the person. An increase in social media usage is often a feature of other obsessive problems such as retroactive jealousy.
How do we stop obsessing over someone?
It may sound easier said than done, but the first step is to try to recognise that we are becoming fixated and caught up in obsessional patterns of thinking.
Being able to recognise this, helps create space for us to step back from the obsession, this can be the start of developing a new perspective, being able to think about what is going on. When we step back, we start to get some distance from our obsession, a kind of healthy separation, we can look at it more clearly.
If we can do this, and repeatedly practice doing this, then we stop being consumed with obsessive ideas about the other person, and we find that our emotional stability improves.
We break the unhealthy and energy sapping connection and from this we can start to think about how we live and what we might want to change. Because although we have been caught up in something difficult, recognising that can be the beginning of a new way of living.
‘It was like I’d taken some kind of drug, all I could do was think about her, I became obsessed, and it went on for ages. I can see now that it was making me unwell, but when I was in the grip of it there was nothing that could distract me. Now I can look back on it all, at that whole time in my life, now I can have some perspective. In fact, now I can see that there was always this obsessive side of me. Now I know how to spot it before it takes hold of me. I would go as far as to say that coming to terms with this obsessional side of me gave me a new lease of life.’Client’s story
From here we want to practice and build up habits that support our emotional stability and stop feeding our obsessional thinking. As said, obsessional thinking feeds of obsessional thinking.
Try to make time for yourself, for your interests, work, and needs, try to redevelop a sense of your own healthy independence, and reconnect with other things that give you pleasure.
Separating yourself from your obsessions
As we separate and become more emotionally independent, we might be able to start to see the other person more clearly. Not seeing them just as a bundle of our own obsessional projections, but as the people they are.
Once we have found the energy and the space to think about ourselves, and the way we had become obsessed by the other person, we can try to build on the insights we have found. We can start to diarise time and habits that are good for us, we can start to live better.
Having the chance to speak in a confidential setting is often the key to developing a clearer understanding of how we get caught up in destructive obsessional patterns of thinking.
By giving yourself a safe space to look at these things you may start to discover a greater sense of possibilities, and this may be the beginning of developing a greater sense of understanding how to relate to yourself and others, and how to start living more fully again, and start to have healthy relationships with yourself and other people.
The chance to reflect on ourselves, our feelings and experience can be powerful and transformative. Out of this, you may be able to develop a clearer understanding of how you and your sense of your problems have developed, and what you can change.
I have been working with people on issues such like this for more than twenty years. My work is built around helping you to develop greater insight into who you are, and how you live.
Contact me to arrange a free telephone consultation to discuss how my approach might help you.