How habits become Obsessions by mistake

I’ve always been the type of person who has phases of tastes. ie I’ll listen to the same album (even the same 2-3 songs) for 6months without change, or watch the same TV series for 5months, with nothing else quite capturing me as much, then move onto something else for a year, before returning to it again.

Because of this, I’ll get into the habit of watching something before bed, or going to sleep listening to certain music – every night. Before I know it it’s become a habit I can’t break and straight into my nightly routine. It means I have to always see that TV show, that movie, listen to that song before I go to sleep or something bad will happen. I’ve managed to get it down to clips of certain things and I’ve made myself a compilation DVD for ease – but it still takes 20minutes to get through. This has been going on for several years now. Gradually I am changing things (and by gradual I do mean the speed of glacial ice). I can now watch my DVD & the various clips on my ipod at the same time, so I get through things quicker, I can have them on in the background, so not paying a lot of attention to them. I also have a clear out at the start of each year so that any I’ve accidentally added to the list can be taken out so I’m back to the core few. (It’s supposed to be every month, but I found that come the critical time I would be away from home, or something big was happening so I didn’t want to change things in case there was an effect).

I know it’s ridiculous, because honestly and scientifically – how can me watching anything have any effect on anything else other than keeping me awake longer than I should? Recently I had fallen into the trap of watching a new short clip of something everynight (it started out, because I wanted to, it kind of inspired my imagination) but then I didn’t want to anymore but had to anyway. This past week has been a real struggle for me sleep-wise and I’ve only just realised that for the past 2-3 nights, I’ve missed this bit out of my routine. Even thought, it’s probably saved me 40seconds, in a way I’m quite relieved. Although I do kind of want to watch it again, because as I said, I like the clip, I’m trying to avoid it – certainly at night, so it dosen’t get added to the routine, which is quite long enough.

It’s not just with TV or songs, it can also be checking new things, like the gas or certain lights etc and this just leads to longer and longer routines each night. Then they act this huge hurdle between me and bedtime because I don’t want to do them because of the time they take. Then I get to bed later and later and then I get more and more tired which sets of my OCD even more. It’s a never ending spiral.

The challenge I have to give myself is not to form the habits in the first place and if see a pattern forming I need to get out of it immediately. Then, gradually I need to let go of some of the habits I already have – maybe just concentrate on 1 at a time.

It would be great to hear from anyone else who has similar experiences or any tips.

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One comment on “How habits become Obsessions by mistake

  1. I have not had that specific ritual of listening to/watching clips/music, but I have had to do certain things before going to bed.

    The more you do the rituals, though, the more you will do them. What would happen if you just didn’t listen to them one night? Is there a harm obsession related to it, or is it just an urge? I would try to NOT listen to it even if it meant some lost sleep. Or if that was too hard, maybe, as you say, cut one out at a time until there are none to listen to.

    As Exposure Woman mentioned in her comment on her previous post, Grayson’s Freedom from OCD is an excellent book, and I think it would help with situations like this.

    I know all of this is hard, but congrats to you for working on it!

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