Today’s Wednesday Wisdom is a take-away from a Tim Elmore blog about being Objective not Obsessive.
Obsessing over people, desires or worries is quite common today. Given our “instant-access, on-demand” culture, our brains are not used to going hours without answers. So, we ruminate until we’ve gone through every terrible reason we can think of for the delay. Jodee Virgo states that “Rumination…rarely offers new insights or solutions. Instead it emotionally hijacks us and intensifies our negative feelings.”
What is Obsessive Thinking? “Obsessive thinking is a series of thoughts that typically recur, often paired with negative judgments. Many times there is an inability to control these persistent, distressing thoughts and the severity can range from mild but annoying, to all-encompassing and debilitating.” Our smartphones now enable our obsessions because we have the ability to ‘repeat’ viewing videos or reading messages.
How do we move from Obsessive to Objective? Through a method called, “Psychological Distancing.” Ethan Kross, Ph.D. states “Psychological distancing is the ability to take a step back and reflect on our circumstances from a more objective perspective, outside of ourselves.” A great exercise to help with this is to ask, “If your best friend was feeling anxious or was obsessing over a problem, what advise would you give them?” Inevitably, there would be an offering of wise counsel. Now, go look in a mirror and offer that same wise counsel to the person staring back. This is one example of Psychological Distancing.
Because we live in a society of instant gratification, our brains tend to react more than reflect. Every message our brains receive from our spinal cord must migrate through the limbic system before reaching the frontal lobe. Too often, those messages don’t get to the rational portion of our brains because we’re too busy emoting. We react from our ‘feelings’ more than our logic. Obsessive thinking is just one example of this.
In practicing psychological distancing, we catch those messages while they’re in the ‘feelings’ stage and we help push them forward into the logic stage.
The goal is to be less reactionary (obsessive) and more rational (objective).