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I often write about the importance of focus. Lacking focus will bring you nowhere since you do not devote enough time and energy to accomplish your goals. The danger of lacking focus is nothing strange. There is a lot written about it in books and blogs.

There is, however, another side of the coin that is equally dangerous but receives much less attention: being obsessed. We could be too focused on something that the other areas of our life suffer.

As you can see,Obsession there are three levels of focus:

  1. Lacking focus
  2. Focused
  3. Obsessed

The ideal place to be is the second level. The other two levels are dangerous. Now that more and more people are aware about the importance of focus, I’m afraid that the Obsessed side is becoming more dangerous than the Lacking Focus side.

Here are three signs of being obsessed:

  1. You feel jealous when somebody gets ahead of you
    When we are obsessed we no longer feel secure in who we are and start comparing ourselves with others. When we are ahead we may feel proud, but when we are behind we would feel jealous. You want your goal so much that you don’t want others to get it.
  2. Your relationships suffer
    Because of your obsession you may no longer have time to maintain good relationships with your family, friends, or colleagues. Perhaps you still have time, but the quantity or quality of the time suffer.
  3. You are mentally drained
    Obsession takes a lot of our mental energy. We need life balance to renew our mental energy but being obsessed clearly put our life off balance.

These are just three signs of obsession I can think of. There could be many other signs I do not mention here.

It’s not easy to overcome obsession since we often do not realize that we have crossed the line between Focused and Obsessed. Having said that, here are several things you can do:

1. Watch for the signs

The signs of obsession could help you recognize whether or not you are in the Obsessed state. If you find that you are in the Obsessed state, you can then apply the other tips here.

2. Slow down

To regain control, you should first slow down. If you are moving too fast toward your goal, there’s no way you can see your current position and take the necessary adjustments. So try to reduce your working pace. You may even want to completely stop for a while.

3. Ask yourself: at which level is my motivation now?

We are motivated by our needs and – based on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs – there are eight levels of human needs: physical, security, belonging, esteem, learning, aesthetic, self-actualization, and transcendence. As I wrote in Upgrade Your Life by Upgrading Your Motivation, the level that motivates you determines the quality of your life. When we are obsessed, it’s often because our motivation comes from the lower levels of the hierarchy. Money, for instance, comes from level 1 (physical) or at most level 4 (esteem).

4. Upgrade your motivation

Now, knowing your level of motivation, you can upgrade it to higher level. The best of all is level 8 (transcendence) at which your motivation is to help others. Of course, it’s not easy to go to the higher levels. The important thing is to be honest with yourself in the process. It’s useless to say that your motivation is at level 8 while your actual motivation is at level 1. Just start from where you are and go up.

5. Keep listening to your heart

Your heart gives the best guidance you can possibly get. You must keep listening to your heart in whatever you do. Often it can give you warning about what not to do. For instance, if you are about to work in such a way that your family will be neglected, I believe your heart will give you warning. It can also warn you if your motivation goes down to lower levels. As long as you are not too busy to listen and follow your heart, there is a good chance that you will stay away from the obsession pitfall.

***

Do you have tips to overcome the obsession pitfall? Feel free to share them in the comments.

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Categories: Attitude, Working

Please use your real name and note that I reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments.

  • http://www.selfgrowth.com/experts/stanley_f_bronstein_mr_achievement.html MrAchievement.com (Stanley Bronstein)

    When you become obsessed with the enemy, you become the enemy.

    MrAchievement
    Stanley Bronstein
    Attorney, CPA, Author, Blogger & Professional Motivational Speaker

  • http://www.lifeoptimizer.org Donald Latumahina

    Nice saying, Stanley. When we are obsessed, we will be against our own interest.

  • http://www.hardware-revolution.com Mathieu

    That is so truth. When you become obsessed, you become your own worst enemy. You want to learn and practice how to balance your focus, not too little, not too much. Great post overall, I learned quite a few things!

  • http://www.lifeoptimizer.org Donald Latumahina

    Mathieu,
    Yes, the art of balancing our focus is essential. It’s difficult to learn, but it’s a key to getting the most out of our life.

  • Kim

    im a huge criss angel fan and i wanted to share this email i sent to one of my best friend admitting my problem

    http://www.crissangel.com

    i dont know how to start this hun but im having some problems accepting who criss dates and ive said some horrible things not to him or holly but offline and i finally admitted that i have a problem dealing between fantasy and reality and being obsessed and getting to carried away i have a habit of doing that and i dont want anyone judging me or rejecting me because of this i have problems with dealing with the real world because i was diagnosed with some mental challenges and im learning disabled ive not logged in as much because im

    afraid of being banned or rejected and i cannot talk to anyone about my problems because it all comes out so diffrent and diffrent opinions like they dont understand were i am comming from i am currently in counseling for it and i want to get better i know in my heart that i cant make criss angel my whole life because i know hes not a perfect person and he has faults i try not to get to into his personal life which i have talked to my counselor about it she is helping me thru this jamie and i know i will get better i promise you alll that i will i just have so much anger in myself because i was rejected so many times by

    people who have bulllied me in school i was always alone had no one to talk to and i resorted to my own world were no one can hurt me and i always lived in a fantasy world in stead of dealing with the real world and dealing with people who judge me reject me hurt me break my heart i dont want to be treated any diffrently than any Loyal because im not that kind of person who thinks im a obsessive stalker thats not me i would never hurt criss or his family or be of something i cannot control i havent violated any of the rules or have bashed on this board because i respect all the rules and i abide by them and i am getting the help i need and i understand criss concern for me i just dont want people saying OMG GET A LIFE U ARE CRAZY EWWWW OR OMG CRISS HATES THAT U ARE LIKE THIS yer gonna get banned or omg i dont wanna be your friend or eww u are a Loyal and u are like that

    ITS THE NEGATIVE FEEDBACK I HATE when i explain something i neeed help at
    and it doesnt come out right

    i hope and pray i will get the help i need and get on with my life

    resoectfully LoyalKim

  • AAAAH

    i think im obsessed…
    im in love with this guy – weve been dating for almost a year now. i just didnt think there was actuall ya way to put how i feel.
    but does this mean that i should break up with him? or just to get a grip on me before i choose to make advances relationship wise?

  • inanna

    What would you say to someone who is obsessed?

  • Jon Palmer

    the state of relaxation for me is entirely contrary to the state of obsession. The state of obsession is tense and uncomfortable, and I cannot easily break it until I have exhausted all of my options for gaining the desired end. Focus becomes obsession if the most obvious options are unsuccessful and I have to resort to more creative means of gaining the end.

    The obsession can be interrupted by the appearance of a more desired aim, or by the appearance of the option to pursue an aim of equal or lesser importance that I can get or achieve more easily.

  • brit

    Ive become obsessed with this girl ive known for about 6 years now-we arent freinds but she knows who i am we do the same sport when i first met her shes a really cocky in your face person and she actually picked the sport up really fast and seemed to improve in leaps and bounds over the next couple of years where as it took me a long time to learn anything also her life seemed to always be improving all the time-id hear stuff about her and read stuff about her online-i think that must be obsession id google her and stuff- im not a lesbian i just hate her in a way and i dont like it- every time i see a picture of her its always her doing something really good like she wants everyone to see her success in her sport and everything she does
    i might be abit jelous but it just really gets to me and i am obsessed does anyone else have this porblem?

  • Tom

    I’m not sure if what I’m going through is obsession or grief. Maybe both.
    My soon to be 18yo son has been involved with drugs for probably five+ years now. He is now no longer in our home or a part of our family. The process has been very painful for our whole family, but it came to a point where either he had to leave or I would have to. My wife and I go to Families Anonymous, and it helps, but I probably still think of my son dozens of times a day, and each time I get derailed. I’ll hear a song and tears will come. I’ll be speaking with people and the subject of family will come up and I have to change the subject. I know things will get better for me as time goes on, I’m old enough to know that for a certainty, but it’s taking much longer than I thought. In some ways it would be easier if he had died, I could go through the grief process. With this situation, I’ll hear news of my son and still have hope, which brings the whole thing back again.
    I think I already have the range of “motivations” pretty well covered, and maybe it would be good to do more of some of the activities I have been, or am currently, involved in but I just can’t right now. I have to let my son go, but can’t seem to. Which is how I ended up googling “obsession” and finding this website. I thought I’d post, more as a way of venting than anything else. As a way of sharing some of my struggle with all you anonymous internet readers. Thank you and I wish you all success in your paths to wholeness.

  • Leilani Ferreira

    To whom it may concern;
    My sister is in a psyciatric hospital for the second time in 1 month.For the past 5 years she has struggled with depression but never out of control. She is obsessed with getting back with her ex-boyfriend. They did not have a healthy relationship and she knows that it is not best to get back with him. In her state of mind that is all she talkes about. He does not want anything to do with her because she scares him. She has made comments which she said are only jokes. She has mentioned that he could die today and that if he does not take her back then she will burn his house down. She has also talked of wrecking her car. As her family we are all nervous about her getting out and coming home. Please give me some advise of what I can say to her when she talks about him. I want to positively enforce something but I am at a loss.

    Respectfully,
    Leilani :)

  • Sylv

    After reading all the comments, I too believe I am obsessed. A few years ago there was a work-mate who I trusted at the time as a friend, after a drunken night(well my friends say I was drugged but I can’t remember anything) we got together horribly, after that he began stalking me outside my home, at work and in public places…i believed I was raped but since my memory is blank I cannot be sure…he eventually got me believing that it was my fault and would threaten me that he’ll hurt my family so I stuck with his word and continued with him as his secret mistress, I broke it off 7 long and ugly months later by actually running away to another city. I could no longer continue my 15yr relationship with my partner at that time as the shame and doubt of this horrible affair tore me apart inside. Since then I have never quite recovered, I can no longer have any close relationships with men, I cannot make new friends because I don’t trust anyone anymore. If I meet a nice man I go all strange and ruin it by contacting them more than 10 times everyday with strange comments(I can see what I’m doing but still don’t stop), what gets me is that I fall in love after a week…I don’t know why I’m doing that especially when I don’t know them, If I txt and they don’t reply within 2 hours I txt some nasty stuff with the word “player” somewhere in there. I was played by this stalker I know that and I have accepted that but now all I’m doing in life is continously pushing people away by being angry and obsessed especially with men. Why? Why? Why? I need to stop, I don’t want to be single for the rest of my life I’m only 38yrs.

  • cccris

    to someone obsessed I would say to postpone the obsession and to try to focus on the breathing and on his/her body.. and to think about the see waves..

  • Alex

    I am obsessed with a friend I met about a year ago. She was one of those people that seemed pretty much perfect and so I immediately thought she was cool and wanted to get to know her and be friends. After a while it got to the point to where I texted her daily and called every once in a while and messaged her on facebook and even though I knew it wouldn’t be a good idea to continue trying to communicate with her I still tried and it ended up the way I kinda knew it would; she began to
    think I was annoying. I had become the person who I had always dis liked. The annoying obsessive friend. So I was completely ashamed and embarassed. I decided to cut off any access to communicate with her. I deleted her number out of my phone and promised myself to not contact her or overly excited when we spoke in person. Obsession an excessive mental focus that turns into an unhealthy need that has potential to ruin alot of great things in your life.

  • dan

    clearly the author is not a psychologist. a lot of you people posting comments really need to seek professional help. I don’t mean to be overly critical, but while these tips may be helpful to some, I think this advice is terrible for 99% of people.

  • Jane

    can someone give me adivce?
    i have become very obsessed with this boy from school and i don’t even know him. I constantly stalk him on facebook, try to meet him in the hallway by finding out his whole schedule, find out as much information on him as possible. I stalk his friends too. I save pictures from facebook of him onto my computer. I try everything to get him to notice me. I get outraged when other girls talk to him. All i think about is him. I find it hard to focus on other things. I want to talk to him very badly but i think he won’t like me an i’ll look like a fool. But i just don’t know what to do and i feel like i’m losing my mind. Please can someone help me?

    • Jonet

      Omg, me too. It’s so annoying! And I can’t even talk to him at lunch because he’s never there and I found out today that it’s because he hasn’t been wearing the uniform so he gets lunch detention. I feel like getting lunch detention just to be able to talk to him. It doesn’t get out on my permanent record or anything like that. It’s pretty. Mic a regular class and it’s better than being in the cafeteria. I hate Brighton there! I want to talk to him so bad! Oh goodness, I just finished being obsessed with this other boy and now I’m obsessed again. Oh lord, someone help me -.-

  • sasha

    i had parents who were mentally sick my father was alcoholic, voilent and with serious mental problems. Mother was depressed and narcisstic same case with entire relatives and brother also.
    I have serious obsession problem from childhood. I think from 7th grade. I would keep thinking about boys. A particular boy will catch my fancy i would keep thinking about them for year or two basically i think i created a fantasy world around me to escape the harshness and loneliness in my realworld. I hardly spoke to anyone and most of the time i was alone
    now i dont even remember the names of the boys i had obsessed about, chased, followed, kept calling etc.
    even after getting married my illness persist and if some guy talks nicely with me then i get mesmerised and start obsessing over them.
    Last year i followed a married man, kept following him, calling him up after couple of months of nonsense he just cut me off his list and i went into depression. Months of depression later and counselling my condition improved and there was a personality change somehow i was no longer the earlier person. Though im very naive and act funny from time to time but a serious and mature side as been added to my personality now.

  • Nelly Jele

    Im 22yrs im obsessed wt my partener i call him wanting 2 knw where is he who is hanging wt how much money did he spent on what i even lost focus 2 pay attention on my goals and dream plz help im falling apart

  • doobie

    would it be an obsession if you couldnt stop thinking about your other half??? like 24/7?and you just want to be together but you cant because you both live in different countries???? Most of our communication is by email but it doesnt seem enough for me iv’e never done a long distance relationship before and its really hard for me!!
    He has before and hes patient-where as i feel like this crazy love sick puppy-that cant calm down.
    But i calm myself down because i dont want to look like a nut!!!I find myself pulling myself back all the time from writing too many letters or coming off as really desperate-because i am very in love-and thats the peril of falling so deeply in love with someone you havent even met in person yet.
    Is this normal??!!!CAN it be justified??!!!

    • marry

      that is so painful . It is a kind of severe obsession and I know how you feel .Try to get help from a therapist if you see yourself desperate and sad all the time. Sometimes even time can not heal . All of us have been through this experience before and we know how it feels to be obsessed with someone ;specially in a long distance relationship.
      I hope that you feel better soon
      Best Wishes

  • Jennifer

    I am obsessed with my childrens father. I am 31years old and we have been on and off for 10 yrs. Whenever we break up, he always starts seeing someone new. I play detective and find out everything about the other woman… we have been back together for almost 5 months and I am constantly stalking these womens’ facebook pages, i even call their jobs and hang up when they answer. I save pictures of them, check their criminal backgrounds and even go out of my way to drive by their homes. I purposely shop at stores near them just so I can bump into one. The last time we were broke up, he slept with 6 differant women in 4 months. I found this out by reading his texts after we moved back in together. This is destroying our relationship and my life an I just want to stop.

  • Aaron

    I’m obsessed with my work… I’m 18 years old and have somehow found myself in a great management position. I’ve always set my standards much higher than everyone around me, and now, for some strange reason, it’s backfired. I expect what I expect out of myself, from everyone else. I perform my job well, but not when I’m worried why everyone’s pissed off at me. My boss keeps on telling me I just need to calm down, and relax, so I finally got four days off. These four days have allowed me to meditate my life. I have finally realized, I’ve become obsessed with my job. Because of the bottom four in the tier. Money, security, belonging, and esteem. It’s time to take a step back and perfect my current job before I start getting in the mindset of higher management. It’s not time yet, I have to be patient… Very helpful thread. Keep it up :)

  • Casey

    Hey!
    I like your suggestions, but just so you know, Maslow had only 5 levels of needs. And you can’t base your whole motivation theory only on one guy. You should do some more research on motivation theories, they’re quite interesting. :)

  • sione

    hi

    I met this girl about 4 ears ago and i really likes her we were friends for like a year and than we went out after a year we like each other so much we were a students and still are. Anyway we were together for about 3 and a half years. after 2 years of being together things start to fall apart like we argue everytime and walked away from each other most of the time and somehow we sort it out the next day. i know that the relationship wasnt healthy for us but we couldnt be apart because we love each other so much. one day we had this argument and she walked out on me. i was so sad and have said some horrible things to her and i have say stuff that i will do something about myself. i have been trying to get her back but she says that she dont want to be in a relationship because she want to be herself again so i tried to help her throughout her exams by letting her stay at my flat and i look after her while she study for her exams after a month of trying i though to myself that maybe she’s feeling a bit better now so i ask her out again but she still say no. i am really disappointed about myself and wish i could turn back the time. i am still contacting with her but she just seems like she is pushing me away from her i hardly get any sleep at nights thinking about her everynight and i find myself wondering sometime and lost of concentration.. i have tried seeing counseller, hanging with friends and thing just not working as everytime i think about her, and each time i get derailed. i’l be listening to music and tears comes out.i’l be talking to friends and the subject girls just remind me of her.even seeing her friends or my friends just remind me of her. i know things will take time but this is taking longer than i thought and its getting worse. we use to go library together, study together and do things together but now she’s gone. everywhere i go to, listen to, even in my own house just reminds me of her, i just wanted her to give me another chance and wanted her to come back to me. i just cant see myself with anyone else…she is kinder in the same situation as me but she just doesnt want to be in a relationship.is there anything i could do to help us get back together… what can i do to help us get back together please help..i just want her back again.

  • David

    I am in my 20s there is this girl I was really obsessed with about 6-7 years ago, the first 1-2years it was really uncontrollable, she keep appearing in my dream and always nice to me in the dream but the funniest part is I could not confront to express my feelings to her because of her her she was only 13ys I can stay without seeing her as she lived in the street with me, I never make any attempt to tell how I feel about her, I try to take her of my mind by relocating to about 8miles away from her lol I think that we the worst bcos I have to transport almost twice a day just to see her face, on one new year eve I wanted to go and wish her a happy new year and a happy birthday that’s her bday, I was involved in ghastly accident on the way I was in hospital for months, when she paid me first visit, I was really relieved!! Then she visited me again and we were both left alone in my hospital room were i was receiving treatment that was when she started telling me how she feels for me after she finish then I told her how I feel for her too never knew she feels the same way, she asked me out that day, I was so excited and wish I could just jump up from my hospital bed, can’t describe how great the happiness that day, so we were now together but for about 3year we decided to go our own separate way when I travel abroad, when we were part that’s when started smoking and drinking I cudn’t stop thinking about her my heart was homeless, . I tried to moved on but I end up ruining every relationship I get into other girls I had little relationship will always think I am a player and I wasn’t proud of it, I keep seeing her my dreams but this time she wasn’t nice to me she was upset with me as if I have done something wrong to her, it got to some stage I don’t want to keep hiding my feelings customers its killing me inside, that was when I started looking for her contact but no where to get it, I meant with one girl who was really nice to me and I liked her she wanted me to marry her I agree just to keep my past behind, we planning the wedding but on one faith day I was going through my Facebook when I saw friend request from my lost love immidiately I accepted the request and checked her info where I saw her done number I called her instantly she was really excited to hear from I keep calling her everyday that’s when we started the relationship again and I became a freak to the other girl I hope she forgive me anyway, I keep everyday conversation with till almost two years when I came back to my country she is also part of the reason I came I am back to my country, we have not started cohabitation we still lived miles away and I am now having that doubt that we might not made it, I really want to get rid of this obsession I am in love with though!

  • notfair

    this young woman 19 yrs old liked me at work. My first impression was shes too young, I’m 35. She really liked me. I told a coworker that he could have her. After a couple months I realized I actually liked her. It was too late. I became obsessed with her and my mistakes because she really is hot! She avoids me like the plague and it sucks. LOVE IS NOT FAIR.

    • Jon Palmer

      Don’t worry. Your obsessive tendencies have not peaked yet. As long as you don’t come up with more than a couple of legitimate reasons to pursue the relationship, you are not truly obsessing over anything except whether or not to obsess. Also, stop purposely avoiding her. Within a month, you will look at her differently. I had an exceptionally beautiful co-worker who I was in no position to date. When she married another employee of our organization, she invited me to the wedding. If I had wanted to date any of her friends or family, I could have easily gotten introductions and even phone numbers. Life works out better sometimes when we don’t flush it down the crapper just because it stinks.

  • Athena

    I’ve never been obsessed with anything. And I honestly don’t understand those who are. I don’t have that much time or energy to devote to one thing like that, nor can I imagine letting something consume me. I think that’s because I get bored pretty easily. I like something a lot at first then after a while I move on to something else.

  • Marjeana

    I’ve just realized recently that I do get obsessed with thing that I do. A few years ago I started playing a game online and became TOTALLY obsessed with it. I played it ALL day, EVERY day. Did this for almost 2 years until I found myself without internet. I stopped the game. Then I became obsessed with drinking coffee…I think I have to have a cup of coffee in my hand at all times…I then moved into a new place and became obsessed with CLEANING…I cleaned and cleaned and cleaned until there was nothing left to clean…then I couldn’t obsess anymore. Lately I have found a new game online that I’m sure I’m becoming obsessed with…also I’m trying to help my son recover credits in his ICP class in high school. I have started studying the periodic table and elements and have become COMPLETELY OBSESSED. I spend at least 4 hours a day reading and taking notes on this subject….until I am drained and my brain can’t handle it anymore. It really bothers me when I can’t do or get something PERFECT! I will not stop whatever I am doing until it is done Perfect! I am Bipolar and recently my doctor took me off of Clonazepam…I believe this has fueled my obsessions. My mind is constantly looking for something new to obsess over. Any sugesstions!

  • Becca

    I think the key to dealing with obsession – whether it be with work, a person, or anything you can think of – is to realize your life is out of balance! Too much thought and energy put towards one thing in your life at the expense of other things in your life is the very definition of obsession! I suggest making a list of things in your life that need and deserve your attention. Work may be first on your list, for example. What else needs attention? Family? Friendships? House cleaning/maintenance? Other things? Next, figure out how much of your time and attention goes to each area of your life. If one or two areas of your life are getting far more attention than they should, especially at the expense of other areas of your life, it’s time to address the situation!
    I’ve read here how many people seem to be particularly obsessed with a person in their life, out of all proportion to the other areas of their life! It can be terribly self-destructive to be so obsessed with another person. It says more about the person who is obsessed than it does the person they are obsessed with! What is it about yourself that you feel you need that other person so much, particularly if they don’t need you? In a world filled with people needing and lacking love, why do you continue to pursue someone who doesn’t want you? Is it more about you needing to prove you are lovable, rather than truly loving the person you’re obsessed with? Why not focus instead on how many lonely people there must be out there, millions and millions of people, one among them just waiting for someone like you to come along! In the meantime, you should work on loving yourself first, by becoming the best you can be intellectually, emotionally and spiritually.

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