Obsession occurs when something in the exterior world has more control over you than you have over it. Something seizes you, takes a hold of your mind, body, soul, emotions. It is quite often totally irrational, even laughable.
Let me share a seriously irrational, bordering on pathetic personal example.
Last week I had a hair cut. It was the cut to trim eight weeks of growth from a new style that I loved. My hair cutter comes to my home, and has worked with me for years, so I have high trust. We also do not have mirrors to look at while we are in the cutting process. At the end of the cut, I looked down at the floor and spontaneously said…”oh my god, there is so much hair on the floor.” She had not given me a trim, she had removed a seriously large amount of the little hair I have.
The new cut (not a trim) looks ok, but is incredibly annoying. It is thin, gets in my eyes, is bad for running, feels thin and wispy and drives me crazy.
In the last week I have been obsessed with anger and frustration…for…lets be conservative and say… at least 5 hours over this. The constant noise in my head, recycling the frustration, the pissed off-ness about how this happened, the knowing it would take at least 6 months to grow back…on and on and on….this is obsession. It seizes you and you feel like you have zero control over your own thoughts. You feel trapped in the cycle, which feeds off itself.
Worse even for me because I know how to break these patterns generally, and this one had me in its vices.
Definitely not healthy.
Here is how I broke it.
I had to acknowledge that the reality is it is as it is. The hair is gone. I had to accept (big word, big choice, hard to do) that for the next period of time I would have difficult, annoying hair that I would need to pin back, use products to keep in place, etc. This is my life. (Poor me…so tragic…this really is pathetic…did I mention that.) I apologise to all the people who have real issues in their life and health to worry about for my very petty behaviour.
I also had to add some perspective. This is what happened. Holy crap…I have just spent 5 hours of my LIFE, my precious LIFE, worried about this irrational, stupid, inconsequential thing called my hair. This was were I started to come back to my senses. The moment I stepped out of the past and present anger and saw myself and this situation objectively.
Then I had to call it. ENOUGH. This has to stop. I had to speak to the part of me that was throwing a serious tantrum, miffed because things hadn’t turned out the way I wanted it to. Enough. There will be no more of this behaviour.
And finally, I had to find the humour. I, this often smart, usually quite emotionally intelligent, evolved women, had been hijacked by my inner 3 year old tantrum throwing brat for nearly a week. It really is very funny. Once you can laugh about it, the cycle is usually broken.
And guess what, I know that I am not alone. I know that you have all been hijacked in some way over some silly little thing. This is obsession in its unhealthy form. When we are hijacked regularly we probably have a more serious condition of obsession and compulsion and may need professional help.
Healthy obsession is when you have a commitment to standard of excellence that is in alignment with the values of the business. If extraordinary customer service is one of your core values, then obsession means that at the front of your mind, and the minds of the people in your company, is extraordinary customer service. You will go to extremes to ensure customer service is always supreme.
It pays to know whether you have chosen to be obsessed, or are caught in obsessions vice.