The most prevalent constant in my life is obsession. I don’t just think about things as they pass through my experience, I go beyond overthinking, I obsess. I would even separate the act of “thinking” from the act of “obsessing,” even though those two things are often shackled together as I observe and act.
Thinking, to me, is the application of my brain onto a complete slate of stimulus. By that I mean, thinking is an act of looking at a whole and real situation (it can be a theory, imagined, and completely intangible) that is a defined set of… stuff.
Obsession is different, obsession is a form of thinking that considers the empty holes in that which is being considered as “real and whole.” I shy away from saying my brain “makes stuff up,” but that idea could help us boil down examples out of what is really a complex way of existing.
When I think of problems to solve, I look at what I know, what I don’t know, and I work in a somewhat scientific manner to attempt to get at a conclusion. This conclusion could be a solution, it could be a new way of seeing the world, it could be a re-affirmation of how I already see the world. It certainly is not flawless, as everyone is subject to logical fallacies. But at the root, thinking takes into consideration the holes in the situation as holes and works with them as one should… they are logical mysteries. We could go on about the concept of thinking, but that detracts from the subject here. The key is how rational I take the whole into account.
Obsession misses this key component of analyzing the holes in the situation for what they are. When I obsess, my thinking becomes logically messy. And I don’t care. Or—I should say—my brain doesn’t care.
I recently had a problem with a piece of software we subscribe to in order to run a business I have. I’m actually a software and database engineer by trade (something I’ve done professionally for decades.) This problem was out of my control, even though I knew exactly how our software vendor could fix the issue in minutes. (Their fix, as of this writing, has been going on for five days.)
The thinking part of me can sit back and realize the constraints of their customer service reps and trust their process. They know their software of after all, I don’t exactly know how their software works. I need to trust.
And what is trust in this situation? It is the acceptance of the aforementioned “holes” in the situation. Accepting the unknowns for unknowns and calculating my reactions, actions, and thinking taking those into account rationally.
Oh, but in this example (and most every other, since I have OCD) because of how I think about software, I become obsessed with the goings-on that are not working in my favor. And by being obsessed, my brain fills in those holes of unknowns with attempts at a logical solution. I quite literally think of how I would fix the problem in a database if I’d built the database. I know the exact commands I’d use to make this a five-minute rather than five-day fix.
With that, I fall into a deep distrust. Everything is being done wrong by everyone because they are plain stupid. And this amplifies in a couple of different manners.
On the surface, my obsession snowballs, and with it my mistrust and the reasons for my mistrust. I fill in these nagging holes of what I don’t know with temporary (and illogical) truisms, and I judge everyone involved by a “whole” I have partially constructed. That is obsession vs. thinking.
My judgment goes wild. And in my brain, it can get ugly. I am not an outwardly angry person (though at times I do explode). But I fester on this distrust in the people who control that which I cannot control but could control.
Secondly, because obsession is like a goo that seeps everywhere in my brain, my distrust in everything is pinned to my affirmed distrust in this singular but important situation.
I find myself distrusting everything. My OCD-flavored distrust has been triggered for all of life. For example, as this situation unfolded, and my distrust and obsession grew… I began to distrust that my cable box would tape the one show I watch. I hovered over the cable box at 4:30 pm to make sure it taped. I didn’t trust it would. I was in a fog of distrust.
This is often how OCD works. (Illogical) reactions from one thing seep into even more illogical reactions to other things. Obsession seeps, it is proverbially liquid. And with it, all the bad forms of thinking are amplified and applied wildly.
I’m a naturally distrusting person. Because of situations like this. Because my OCD knows it knows better.
And of course it often does not, but I’m not thinking.
I am obsessing.