The National Institute of Mental Health claims that living with an obsessive-compulsive mind can be debilitating when it is extreme, but in milder forms, you can actually make it work in your favor. Mine is not so great that I cannot function and once I understood it was part of who I am, I found ways to focus all that obsession in creative, positive ways. Obsessions can be a distraction from yourself, a way to escape that isn’t all that bad. Sometimes you need to detach and indulge in something outside your day to day self. You can exploit and embrace this personality trait just as I have and find liberation, freedom, and perhaps some power along the way.
My personal obsessions and how they worked in my favor:
Weight training. Once I decided I wanted to lower my BMI (body mass index), I took to it feverishly. I read everything I got my hands on, ran, weight trained and eventually I got results. It was grueling, but it was only in this way that I was able to reach my goal. This obsession got me eating healthier, gave me a sense of purpose, and I found I enjoyed being able to change my body if and how I wanted to.
Writing. Once I started writing about lifestyle, empowerment, food, and beauty, it became my mission to find out everything about whatever subject I was writing about. Most topics, I already had experience in, but not enough information to call my information facts. Thanks to this obsessive search for information, I regularly get to sit for hours on end, lost in what I call investigative bliss!
Work. I have amassed many a grammar exercise after hours, lost in creating content for my Spanish or English classes. At 21 years of age, when computers were not available, especially laptops, I would sit in bars, coffee shops, or wherever I found myself, pen in hand, writing out exercises for my individual classes, which at that time were many. At one time, I had nine teaching hours each day! With little time for much else, this obsessive tunnel vision helped me ensure and establish my passion for teaching and improving my performance in class.
Social Media. A few years ago, I knew nothing about Social Media so when my sister told me I needed to have a twitter account and subscribe to other Social Platforms, I went blank! Especially because I have ADHD and find instructions very complicated, I was intimidated by this ever-changing means of communication and promotion. By getting absolutely immersed and by reading and applying the “rules,” I learned new terminology and finally understood hashtags, SEO, retweet, MT, RT, and FF in a very short time. I had people help me along, of course, but my obsession to learn got me to where I am today.
Cooking. Cooking didn’t come naturally to me because, as I mentioned above, I have problems following instructions and in this case, following recipes. Once I decided I wanted to start cooking, I amassed a library of cookbooks and every night, for a couple of years, I read nothing but cookbooks. I can now follow a recipe and eyeball quantities (accurately!) while cooking which is amazing to me! This wouldn’t have happened without my obsessive tunnel vision driving me to learn and grow in this area.
Obsessive-compulsive behavior to an extreme, as I said, can be paralyzing and unhealthy but if you suffer like myself from a milder form, you can reap some unexpected benefits. Once an obsessive person gets something in their mind, it’s like developing the tunnel vision of a person in love. All your focus and energy goes to one place only. For us, that’s often a goal, and you’re only set free once it’s reached and attained.
There is a catch, you have to be aware that it doesn’t become your all. Once something starts taking away from my relationships and regular life activities, I shut down and move away from whatever it is for a while to gain a healthy perspective. Then, I am able to go back to the activity not allowing it to take over once more.