Perfectionists are natural ruminators. Julia Cameron writes about this in “The Artist’s Way”:
“Perfectionism is a refusal to let yourself move ahead. It is a loop–an obsessive, debilitating closed system that causes you to get stuck in the details of what you are writing or painting or making and to lose sight of the whole. Instead of creating freely and allowing errors to reveal themselves later as insights, we often get mired in getting the details right. We correct our originality into a uniformity that lacks passion and spontaneity.”
5 Ways to Stop Obsessing…and move forward:
- Forgive yourself…and your need to get everything right. Just allow yourself to simply “be” and put a name to what is bothering you. Doubt. Fear. Depression.
- Get to the real cause. If you are constantly shopping, for example, maybe the underlying cause is anxiety or depression. Your mindless shopping takes your mind off of your current problems and makes you feel good. Don’t drown in new shoes though…talk to someone about your feelings like a medical professional.
- Stay in the present moment. Do you notice a theme here? Most of the time, our obsessions come from thinking too far ahead in the future, or too far back in the past. It’s like we have a time machine in our head…and think that by thinking about it over and over again, we are going to change things. The moment you can best control is the here and now. Start pulling yourself back when you realize you are gone again.
- Make time to think about it…later. If you simply can’t do number 3 ^^^, then tell your thoughts they have to wait until you can journal them out later. Seriously. When you are ready to journal, set a timer for 10 minutes and writer about whatever is bothering you. Keep to the time though because after that 10 minutes, you have to come back to the present.
- Get the facts. Your brain has made up an elaborate story of something that recently occurred. Complete with parts for all the players involved in your mind and a script of what they might have said. The thing is, no one told them. You wrote the play, directed it, and had them saying things that didn’t even come out the way it happened in your head…and get this. You got mad at them without ever giving them a chance to tell their side.
This brings me to my last point. I despise the word judge because we all do it. There. I said it. We do. Now is the part where you are thinking, I never judge, blah, blah, blah. I have never, ever met a person who did not even accidentally make a statement without knowing all the facts. But you are not your thoughts, and it’s okay. Maybe your mind went there for a second, and maybe it is still there. The second, minute, or even hour isn’t so bad. It’s staying there that gets you in that loop. Forgive yourself. Forgive others. Move forward. Stop the ruminations that turn into obsessions.
Obsession is the single most wasteful human activity, because with an obsession you keep coming back and back and back to the same question and never get an answer. ~Norman Mailer
Still need help journaling, moving forward or stopping unwanted thoughts? Check out the Head|Heart|Health Club tab.