How Does an Obsessing Parent Develop a Positive Outlook?

Parents who obsess on things dwell on thoughts that are not consequential in reality. How do they turn dwelling on their thoughts into problem solving and constructive thinking? Here are some helpful insights.

Obsessing parents are generally obsessive in most aspects of their lives. So when it comes to people they love, like their children, their obsessing can become exponential adversely affecting both themselves and their children.

The Obsessive Person who Feels Powerful

Ironically the obsessive person feels they are so powerful that if they dwell on something long enough, they will cause changes in themselves and others. It is actually egocentric thinking to believe that one’s obsession will cause positive changes in the long run. Sometimes, the obsessor does happen onto a solution to a problem, but they would have much more easily if they took a break from their persistent thinking about something.

How Children and Teens React to Obsessive Parents

When a parent dwells too persistently on aspects of their child’s life, the child usually feels crowded by their parent, resentful of their intrusion, and anxiety-ridden. Obsessing has a bothersome yet contagious quality that gives the child or teen the feeling they should be worried, too. This gives way to anxious feelings in the child or teen about their choices and decisions and takes away feelings of independence. The biggest problem is that obsessing about a child’s life usually back fires.

Here are some examples:

1. The parent worries about the child’s grades so he or she hounds the child or teen to do their homework checking on them frequently. The child resents the hovering and thus distracts themselves with anything but homework.

2. The parent worries about the child’s social life so he or she continuously asks them about their friends, where they are going, when they’ll be home, what their plans are far in advance (when kids usually make plans last minute). The child or teen feels like they are being watched (which they are) and so stops telling their parents anything about their social life hindering an already fragile parent-child bond.

The Effect Obsessing Has on the Adult

It’s extremely hard to stop obsessing if that’s a long time part of your personality. Worrying is what you do. It consumes you and restricts many other thoughts from coming into view and eventually restricts your activities giving you a negative outlook on life and low self-esteem.

It’s not a matter of will power, it’s how the brain is wired. There’s no sense in blaming yourself for this trait, that only makes things worse. So what’s an obsessive person to do?

Helpful Hints to Curb Obsessing.

1. Remind yourself that obsessing isn’t making you more powerful. It only hinders constructive thinking.

2. Ask a trusted person for advice only once and consider their point of view.

3. Tell yourself that obsessive thinking is actually ego-centric. You’re surprisingly only thinking from one point of view — yours!. To change this you must take a break from this thoughts and come back to them at least an hour later so you can think from more than one point of view.

4. Look at the consequences of your obsessive notions. You will see that they are minor and insignificant in the long view. In other words, test your reality as to the importance of your worry over the long haul.

5. Distract yourself. This is essential. There are many ways to do this based on your interests. Shifting your focus from your mind to your body is one helpful choice. Begin some light exercising for about half an hour. Concentrating on these moves will interrupt your thought patterns.

6. Get out of the house or go to a different location from where you are obsessing. A change of scenery even a change of room actually tells your brain to think of other things.

7. If it doesn’t turn into another obsession, write down the pros and cons of a decision you are making. Write quickly without too much consideration. You can always cross things out that you change your mind about. Writing is different than just thinking. You will be using a different part of your brain and become more constructive.

8. Narrow your worry to a very specific problem. By narrowing your thinking, you identify what’s most important to your ideas so you can begin to actually problem solve what’s bothering you.

9. Consider that your obsessing is in itself a distraction from what may be more important. It consumes you so much you forget essentials that need to be taken care of.

10. Remember you are obstructing your parent-child relationship, not actually helping your child develop beliefs of their own, the ability to make autonomous decisions, make mistakes and recover from them, and trust that you will be there for them when it’s really important.

In effect, obsessing is a weary preoccupation with things that rarely matter significantly. They restrict your thinking, close you off from people you care about, give you a negative view of yourself and hurt you.

Following even one of these suggestions may give you a whole new outlook on your thinking and your life. Things are probably safer and more secure that you think and there is a lot of new learning and adventure awaiting you. Try a new interest and take a break from your mind and the world awaits you!

Laurie Hollman, Ph.D., is a psychoanalyst and author of Unlocking Parental Intelligence: Finding Meaning in Your Child’s Behavior found on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Familius and wherever books are sold. Visit her website for more advice: http://lauriehollmanphd.