This week I have found myself obsessing over things where no obsession is required. I have obsessed over relationships, emergencies that were not my own, and the details to projects that are months away from completion.
I have solicited some advice from friends and I have consulted God in prayer.
All of the advice essentially came down to, “when was the last time you were still?”
One friend, who hates meditation, actually asked, "when was the last time you meditated?" I told her it was that morning, which was true, but a good follow up question I had for myself was, “did you meditate on letting go of your obsessions though?” I had not.
If you’re anything like me, you’re driven by your goals and this is where obsession is great! You become entrenched in your passions which means your goals come to fruition and either you learned something, created something, or generally contributed to the greater good of society. You also probably felt a sense of accomplishment which is always good for your confidence.
However, when this compulsion to be obsessed leaks into unhealthy areas like events you have no control over, it is highly advisable you take the following steps to regain your sense of peace.
1. Earnestly meditate. Meaning, have a purpose within your meditation to let go of the thing you’re unhealthily obsessing over.
You can imagine you’re sitting in a chair and the negativity or needless worry is leaving your mind and body, and is now left up to the universe to sort out. (This is of course after you’ve done all you can if/when necessary.)
You can imagine you’re on top of the world and all of the anxiety is shooting out of your body into the core of the earth and the earth then sends you positive energy to replace it.
You can imagine a world where this problem doesn’t exist - with as many details as you can possibly think of.
You can imagine God’s presence dwelling within you by imagining a bright white light inhabiting all parts of your body. This should bring a great peace.
2. Journal. My personal impulse when I’m stressed is to talk to people about it, multiple people, so I can gather a good 360 degree view of the problem and then act.
However, lately I have not wanted everyone to know my personal business and some of it is confidential. So, I have returned to journaling. This has satisfied my need to reach out and explain the situation, think it over, and come up with solutions; and as a bonus, instead of them being my friend’s solutions, they’re my own.
3. Social Media. I do not post about confidential or sensitive information on social media but I do use it as a distraction. I typically set a timer so I don’t procrastinate too much but it is helpful to get distracted by other people’s posts (especially if you surround yourself with positive people. If you’re not surrounded by positive people, check youtube for animal videos or something else you find enjoyable.)
4. I am not always the solution. When I realize I am not always the one that needs to be the solution, or part of it, or even speak on it, it allows me to take a view of objectivity. I can let it go. So, I don’t have to be involved. I can wish it well and move on. Sometimes this hurts my ego because I like to help, but it is more helpful to me and the other person sometimes to not help. I also try to remember this solid piece of advice: “Does this need to be said? Does this need to be said now? Does this need to be said now by me?”
5. Re-prioritize. I sit down with my list of things to do. I think about which one needs my attention and I refocus my obsessive energy into a project. If my mind gets distracted by the gnawing reminder of my problem AND there is nothing for me to do about, I speak my intentions out loud to regain focus. I say, “I am reading Thich Nhat Hanh’s book.” Then I continue reading. This trains my mind to laser in on the task at hand, not the worry at hand.
6. Remember the Infinite. When I remember that God and time is infinite, I immediately settle down. There are no problems bigger than God or bigger than time. There are infinite solutions to problems. There is infinite wisdom available if we allow our minds to be peaceful enough to listen.
In these ways not only are you releasing the issue for the best possible outcome, you are also retraining your brain for future obsessions. It’s when we give in to any compulsion - drinking, over eating, obsessive thought patterns - that we reinforce this compulsion. This keeps the brain weak. If you want a strong mind, you don’t lazily go along with it’s patterns, you question them. You come up against them. Just as resistance training strengthens your body, so resisting habitual patterns strengthens your mind and constitution.