When an obsession dominates us, it steals our will and saps all the pleasure out of life. We become numb to people and events, while our mind replays the same dialogue, images, or words. In a conversation, we have little interest in what the other person is saying and soon talk about our obsession, oblivious to the impact on our listener. Obsessions vary in their power. When they’re mild, we’re able to work and distract ourselves, but when intense, our thoughts are laser-focused on our obsession. As with compulsions, they operate outside our conscious control and are rarely abated with reasoning. Obsessions can possess our mind. Our thoughts race or run in circles, feeding incessant worry, fantasy, or a search for answers. They can take over our life so that we lose hours, sleep, or even days or weeks of enjoyment and productive activity.
Obsessions can paralyze us. Other times, they can lead to compulsive behavior like repeatedly checking our email, our weight, or whether the doors are locked. We lose touch with ourselves, our feelings, and our ability to reason and solve problems. Obsessions like this are usually driven by fear.
Obsessions and Addiction
Codependents (including addicts) focus on the external. Addicts obsess about the object of their addiction – alcoholics about drinking, sex addicts about sex, food addicts about food. Our thinking and behavior revolves around the object of our addiction, while our true self is cloaked with shame. But we can obsess about anyone or anything.