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Hawaii_Jake's avatar

When do habits turn into obsessions? How does one stop?

Asked by Hawaii_Jake (32641points) January 19th, 2012

I have what shall be an unnamed activity that has perpetuated itself for years, and I wish to stop.

Do you have any experience with habits that you realized had turned into obsessions?

How did you stop?

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16 Answers

JLeslie's avatar

Obsessions are thoughts, compulsions are actions. I am going to assume you are talking about being compulsive, or obsessive and compulsive.

Depends on the thing. Some suggestions are:

Replace the unwanted activity with a more desirable activity.

Some people take medication to reduce OCD, but if you are only compulsive about one specific thing I would not choose this course of action.

Try to get to the root of when you do the action and why, and deal with what feelings are driving you to the activity.

9doomedtodie's avatar

When habits that turn into obsessions, one can think of it from the core of heart. Meditation is a good option to refrain yourself from doing this. Ask yourself, why am I doing this? Is it good to keep it as a habit or does my habit bother myself or others?

graynett's avatar

Thoughts form Obsessions that are like weeds in your mind, change your thinking by digging them out crowding them out or starving them out.

geeky_mama's avatar

Habits turn into obsessions as soon as they negatively impact your quality of life or your interactions with people around you.

Anything that is taking time or attention away from what you’d really rather be (or should be) doing can be a habit gone awry.

As suggested by the other posters it just takes some examination of your motives and replacement with what you’d rather (or should be) doing instead. It takes will power and self-introspection—but you can do it. :)

Coloma's avatar

As long as it is not harmful to self or others, who cares?
I’d say it only merits intervention if it meets the above criteria and it is causing you some sort of distress.
If I wake up at midnight every night and have 2 cookies and a glass of milk, no problem.
If I wake up every night at midnight and eat an entire bag of cookies and then stick my finger down my throat, not good. lol

Diversion is key in changing habots and replacing them with better choices, but, again, unless it’s really effecting your well being or health, I’m all about not being overly neurotic about anything. :-)

marinelife's avatar

It takes 28 days to change a habit. So, if you can take one day at a time or onr hour at a time and just say “I am not going to do the thing for one hour.” Then you can build on that success the next hour, and the next.

Coloma's avatar

I’m a big fan of hypnotherapy, works like a charm if you’re intelligent and receptive.
More intelligent people have better results in accessing the subconscious and influencing it through subliminal thought.

SpatzieLover's avatar

Why do you do the activity?

When do you do it?

Where do you do it?

You need to answer these questions for yourself, first @Hawaii_Jake. Then you can address the core of this issue.

Why did it start? Why do you perpetuate it? Do you do it out of comfort? Or….as is the case with my husband & son for a few activities, is it a matter of control. By doing this are you feeling like you have control?

Rock2's avatar

If you are worried about it, it is too much.

Try not to do it any more. If you can’t, seek profession help.

If medication helps, use it.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

You never know exactly how or why and sometimes it takes awhile to even realize that this habit is now an obsession, if at all. I’m working on overcoming overeating right now and it’s a daily work in progress. You don’t just stop, that’s for sure.

lloydbird's avatar


Max Freedom Long will probably be a good help for you on that matter.

Buttonstc's avatar

For you particularly, I think the most effective method would be finding a replacement behavior which is healthier/more beneficial for you.

You’ve previously shared on Fluther your experiences with addiction/alcoholism and its not at all unusual for those with an addictive personality to develop another obsession or addiction following their sobriety and abstinence from the original addictive substance.

That’s part of why they so frequently recommend at least “90 meetings for 90 days” for someone recently committing to sobriety

This begins the process of substituting the positive support of meetings and connections forming new friendships for the previous social patterns involved in their addictions.

That type of intensive focus on meetings, etc sometimes looks pretty obsessive and over the top to their friends and family but its substituting healthy obsession for the previously unhealthy habit patterns surrounding their addiction.

Try to find something positive and healthy to substitute for the currently undesirable habit/obsession you’re trying to stop.

Whatever it is, its quite similar to your previously active alcoholism since it arises from the natural tendencies inherent in an addictive personality. If you ask some of your twelve step friends, I think you’ll be surprised by how many of them have had similar patterns and experiences. Hopefully that will be an encouragement for you.

JessK's avatar

Have a buddy.

mattbrowne's avatar

When your conscious brain is no longer in charge, i.e. when willpower no longer works.

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graynett's avatar

Go by what you know, not by how you feel. Feeling aren’t facts.

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