Obsession / Obsessive Thinking
By Diane Vanas on August 23rd, 2008(viewed 2218 times).

Obsession / Obsessive Thinking - Part 1

"Obsessive thinking is an emotional defense that, like all of the various manifestations of codependency, is dysfunctional.  Being in our heads - thinking, fantasizing, ruminating - is a defense we adapted in childhood to help us disassociate from the emotional pain we were experiencing.  It is dysfunctional because it keeps us focused on the future or the past - we miss out on being alive today.  It is dysfunctional because our attempts to escape unpleasant feelings causes us to generate more unpleasant feelings.

Worry - which is negative fantasizing - is a reaction to fear of the unknown which creates more fear, which creates more worry, which creates more fear, etc.  This fear is not a normal human fear of the unknown.  It is codependent fear:  a distorted, magnified, virulent, mutated species of fear caused by the poisonous combination of a false belief that being human is shameful with a polarized (black and white, right and wrong) perspective of life.  This self perpetuating, self destructive type of obsessive thinking feeds not only on fear, but on shaming ourselves for feeling the fear."

"Getting into recovery from codependency, starting to learn how to do the inner child work, will help a person take power away from the fear and shame that drives the disease - that causes the obsessive thinking.  Learning to be compassionate in our relationship with our self - by not shaming ourselves for being wounded human beings - will help us to take power away from the obsessive thinking."

"Traditional Western medical science has ignored and discounted the spiritual and emotional components of being.  The traditional medical perspective in relationship to any physically or psychologically manifested dis-ease is limited by a left brain (concrete, rational) intellectual paradigm which is entirely focused on that which can be seen, measured, quantified.  Therefore, any spiritual, emotional, and mental dis-ease is seen as resulting from biochemical, physiological, physical conditions.  Doctors (which includes psychiatrists of course) - and other traditional medical and mental health professionals - were trained to identify mental and emotional problems as biological and to see the solution as chemical.

There are certainly neurobiological aspects to any behavioral manifestation, but it is not possible for a scientific perspective which requires empirical proof to truly ascertain the cause of any condition - because emotional and spiritual components of a human's being can not be quantified.  In other words, brain chemistry is definitely out of balance in relationship to any physical disorder or mental condition - including OCD, Bi-Polar Disorder, Depression, etc.  That imbalance in brain chemistry definitely has an impact on emotions - but it is not possible to say absolutely which is the cause and which is the effect.  The chicken and egg conundrum.  In other words, did the emotional trauma and the fear and shame based relationship to life cause the chemical imbalance in the brain - or did the chemical imbalance come first.  Traditional Western medicine is not holistic - it does not treat the whole being, it treats symptoms."

"We were taught to approach life from a perspective of fear, survival, lack and scarcity. . . . . . We were taught that life is about destinations, and that when we get to point x - be it marriage or college degree or fame and fortune or whatever - we will live happily ever after.

That is not the way life works.  You know that now, and probably threw out that fairy tale ending stuff intellectually a long time ago.  But on some emotional level we keep looking for it because that is what the children in us were taught.  We keep living life as if it is a dress rehearsal for "when our ship comes in."  For when we really start to live.  For when we get that relationship, or accomplishment, or money that will make us okay, that will fix us.

We do not need fixing.  We are not broken.  Our sense of self, our self perception, was shattered and fractured and broken into pieces, not our True Self." 

"Life is not some kind of test, that if we fail, we will be punished.  We are not human creatures who are being punished by an avenging god.  We are not trapped in some kind of tragic place out of which we have to earn our way by doing the "right" things...

We are here to go through this process that is life.  We are here to feel these feelings.  Doing our emotional healing allows us to feel clear about what is in front of us instead of torturing ourselves by obsessively thinking, trying to figure out what's right and what's wrong." 

The disease of codependency is a dysfunctional emotional defense system adapted by our egos to help us survive. The polarized perspective of life we were programmed with in early childhood, causes us to be afraid of making a mistake, of doing life "wrong."  At the core of our being, we feel unlovable and unworthy - because our parents felt unlovable and unworthy - and we spend great amounts of energy trying to keep our shameful defectiveness a secret.  We feel that, if we were perfect like we "should" be, we would not feel fear and confusion, and would have reached "happily ever after" by now.  So, we shame ourselves for feeling fear, which adds gasoline to the inferno of fear that is driving us.  The shame and fear that drive obsession becomes so painful and 'crazy making' that at some point we have to find some way to shut down our minds for a little while - drugs or alcohol or food or sleep or television, etc. 

It is a very dysfunctional, and sad, way to relate to life.  The fear we are empowering is about the future - the shame is about the past.  We are not capable of being in the now and enjoying life because we are caught up in trauma melodramas about things which have not yet happened - or wallowing in orgies of self recrimination about the past, which can not be changed.  Codependents do not really live life - we endure, we survive, we persevere. 

Obsessive thinking and compulsive behavior is caused by, and fed by, fear and shame.  The feeling that the world will come to an end if ____ doesn't happen, or that it has come to an end because ____ happened, is a feeling coming from the wounded inner child.  It is the result of early childhood emotional trauma - and the subconscious programming adapted by our egos to help us survive at a time when we were helpless and powerless. 

An adult is not helpless and powerless.  We are, however, powerless to know that, as long as we are unconsciously reacting to repressed emotional energy and subconscious programming.  It is impossible to see our self or life clearly when we are caught up in trauma dramas (internally and externally) that feel life threatening.  In our codependency, we are in denial of our emotions at the same time we are allowing the feelings of the wounded child within to define and dictate our lives. 

Love is the answer to obsession - but not the love of another person.  Learning to be Loving to our self - and remembering that there is a Loving Higher Power, is the best way I have ever found to stop obsessive thinking.  

Some notes of clarification from Robert Burney: (These notes were part of the article when it was originally published.) I learned a lot about the wounding process of codependency by studying cases of people with multiple personality disorder.  Anyone raised in an emotionally dishonest, dysfunctional culture had their relationship with themselves - their psyche - shattered and fractured into multiple disjointed segments in childhood.  People with multiple personality / Dissociative Identity Disorder were pushed farther than the rest of us.  The recovery process for the normal form of codependency and the more extreme multiple personality variety both require reclaiming and integrating these different parts of self into a functional internal structure that allows us to put a mature adult in charge of our internal dynamics instead of the wounded inner children or the critical parent / disease programming. 

It is vital to change our relationship with our own emotions in order to take power away from the distorted, magnified, virulent, mutated variety of fear that drives obsession so that we can stop the compulsive behavior that is driven by repressed emotional energy.  And the underlying reason that fear is given so much power is the shame about being human that is at the foundation of our relationship with self. 

----- by Robert Burney

Comment this profile!
You must be a registered member in order to post article comments.