TL;DR: title. I know i am cancer and that this sounds like bait or like a stupid problem (it is stupid, but it does have an emotional impact on me), but i still need your impartial advice to overcome this.
How do i stop obsessing over stuff (be it anime, vidya or relationships or whatever)?
This problem arises mainly with every form of entertainement, and it's basically another form of escapism or fantasizing for me.
The worst thing is that i'm a male shipper (meaning i'm almost the same as those 15yrs old girls who want goku and vegeta to fuck when it comes to media) but i can't enjoy the anime/vidya/book simply for what it is and, most of all, to not get ATTACHED to it.
I can recognize when i'm attached or passionate about a book/movie/whatever and when i'm obsessed, and recently the latter is too frequent. What i noticed is that i'm so deep into it that i select media only if there's teasing or a 1% chance of my delusion to happen (delusion = my fictional couple becoming canon most of the time).
I also noticed that it's a loop: not it's because of an anime and it's a "delusion ship destroyed, time to feel bad", but i had this phase countless times with different outcomes as well (for example i enjoyed a videogame TOO much, and while it lasted i was excited, but also lost control of myself; or when a ship i like is confirmed, in which case it's full euphoria, but i'm still not self-aware in the moment it happens).
I'd like your advice on how to break this loop without depriving myself of all entertainment. Because i actually like reading, i actually like playing vidya and watching anime (and when i'm not obsessed i spend very little time a day, so it's not completely mere addiction to media), it's my attachement over fantasies about them that is unhealthy.
Pic sadly related.
As a male shipper, how did you even get into shipping in the first place? I've never met a dedicated male shipper, most seem to thinking casually liking two characters being together = shipping.
If only i was able to take it as lightly as they make it look like...
Honestly i don't exactly remember, i just remember the phases, not the reasons (but it's probably a way for me to imagine ideal, romantic relationships instead of boring/unsatisfiyng ones)
When i started shipping for the first time it was hetero, almos surely canon/gonna be canon ones (like AshXMisty, i was that vanilla).
As soon as i developed my sexuality (i'm bi, liking girls sexually IRL, but i'm a complete sucker for homo in media, while i find a IRL gay relationship ideal romantic-wise, but gay sex grosses me out), i began to ship gay only, but at the time i still didn't properly "ship" (since i wasn't really obsessed, it was just when it happened).
Now the problem is that i give it too much focus, especially on couples that, honestly, will never happen. I know it's masochism, but it's influencing all my enjoyment of entertainment.
It's great to know i'm not the only male fujoshit, do you have any advice on how to at least give it less importance?
It's probably a psychological problem, since it doesn't depend on the single book/cartoon (ia ctually enjoy them when i'm not obsessed over fictional couples), but yet i ask.
Well yeah, i do like gays, it's not something i find shameful or have to hide, but i'm mainly attracted to the idealized romance i have in mind, not actual buttfucking or dick stroking.
Between a Hetero porn and a Homo one i get WAY harder with the hetero one.
However, i'm so sheltered and mind-fucked that i'm convinced that a relationship with a guy would be way more emotional, heartfelt and true "love" than one with a female.
In short, i realize it's escapism from a reality i don't really find appealing. I do know it's not easy to suddenly get a real life and get over fictional shit, but one step at a time. For now it'd be fine to just slowly stop giving so much attachement to media, especially since most often it's not even about romance as the main focus, but i still try to grasp at it.
I have the exact same problem OP. I've spent years trying to understand this since it is something that impacts my life in a significant way, but truth to be told I've yet to really grasp what it is in me that makes me like this and how to control it. It's also kinda sad that there's not really any studies or scientific research being done on the obsessive shipping phenomenon. Well it's kind of niche and not very out in the open so I guess it really can't be helped.
From what I've seen and experienced as an obsessive entertainment consumer (and a dirty shipper and sexualiser of characters) and having followed these communities for years, I find it hard to pinpoint a one reason for this. I do feel there's some validity to the first thought that pops in everyone's head on 4chan, and assburgers does explain some parts of it. I do admit that I personally have quite a lot of aspergers traits, but I don't know if it explains all of it.
Just by googling obsessive thoughts and other such things I've found all sorts of pop psychology theories about shipping being an OCD symptom, where it's used for controlling and calming your thoughts in an uncontrollable environment and other such things. You might also be interested in looking into maladaptive daydreaming.
Can't really vouch for the validity of any of these, but some of that stuff was pretty interesting.
I guess you might want start by trying to recognize where your thought are coming from. Are they something coming from a place of escaping from something in your life (trauma, relationships, reality in general) or if they are something more inherit to your nature (having an autism spectrum disorder). If you really feel like your thoughts are interfering with your life I of course suggest seeking professional help.
First of all thanks for your help dude, i feel more at ease knowing i'm not the only one fucked up to this point.
I'm already in therapy. It's been 2 years, and i've done huge progress, mainly on self-esteem and thinking too much about what others think. I can confidently say that i've solved these two problems (sure, there could still be leftover behaviours, but they are rare and only in specific circumstances). My therapist is also amazingly good, both at his job and as a person (it costs a bit, but literally asked everyone for the best one aviable, and it's the best money ever spent), and i've already talked to him about this. He says it's only a matter of time, and that the key is that magnifying the thought so much that it becomes your "main reason of life" (even if for a couple of hours only) is what makes fantasizing a matter of life and death (or better, of being euphoric or sad for a long time)
However yes, i agree that it's seriously related to obsessive thoughts in order to escape or modify reality.
I don't have OCD or other diagnosed mental illnesses, but while this has been a long-term problem of mine, it's only recently (last month) that is becoming overbearing to the point i get permanently distracted while doing IRL shit.
It'd be cool to know if some ex-shipper told us how he overcome his over-attachement.
To be honest, for me it's not necessarily about the romance. Most of the time I'm just thinking about the character I like getting fucked in various lewd ways. But sometimes I can go in for the whole character X and character Y having a long and drawn out get together fantasy. Have you ever read fanfiction lol? I don't like admitting it but I have read quite a lot. And sometimes I read long/romantic ones. 95% of the time I'm reading porn though, for any show/anime/book/game that doesn't have available doujins/art/etc.
Anyway, my point is, "shipping" isn't the focus of my obsessions, my obsessions just often have shipping in them because it's an easy way to see my fave get boned.
I don't really have any good advice. I started taking an obsessive interest in certain media when I was about 10 or 11 (Doctor Who and Kids Next Door, lol... I didn't have access to anime) and I haven't stopped since.
I too believe it's an escapism thing. I've tried to go cold turkey on it all, but found it impossible. My life just feels empty without these "interests," and I get pissed off/depressed that I can't just do what I want. I end up thinking "what the fuck is the point in living if I can't do the things I love?"
As for becoming a casual... I just don't enjoy it. I know this because I have casual interests in lots of things. They don't really fulfil me, I just "enjoy" them if I've got nothing else to do.
So basically, sorry but I don't really have any advice for you. I have this fantasy in my head where I'll graduate university, get a proper job and become a normie, but I'm 21 and I'm worse now than I've ever been and I get worse with every passing year. Lol I guess I'm just resigned to live a shit life ruled by my obsessions.
I'm 21 too dude, but i firmly believe it's something we can overcome.
>the whole character X and character Y having a long and drawn out get together fantasy
This is literally what i do and why i get obsessed when things look grim for such a fantasy to happen.
>Have you ever read fanfiction
I have, but i read it only once my pairing is confirmed or is close to confirmation or when it's shipped by half the known world (Sora x Riku, yes, i'm cancer incarnated).
I don't spend much time on them though, since they are mainly a way to reinforce my euphoria the rare times a ship becomes canon or is near that position. Also, again, i'm a sucker for romance, sex is fine if it's romantic and heartfelt, but i'm not the kind of guy to just look at porn of them cause it's hot.
>Anyway, my point is, "shipping" isn't the focus of my obsessions, my obsessions just often have shipping in them
Umh, this is an interesting point. For me the obsession is not "shipping" per se (it is a fuckhuge part of it, but it's not the cause is what i'm saying), but the emotional overattachement to a story/relationship/couple/younameit. Again, i can tell when i'm passionate and when i'm obsessed, and the latter is way too often happening compared to the former.
>I too believe it's an escapism thing. I've tried to go cold turkey on it all, but found it impossible
I've talked to my therapist about this, and he told me that it's not the answer for two reasons:
1) it's not the "media of the day" the source of the obsession, and it can be perfectly enjoyed for what it is, even shipping is fine he says (it WAS embarassing to talk about this stuff to my therapist, but he's amazing also ebcause he understands what's beneath it), it's the emotional exaggeration the problem
2) Going cold turkey just challenges your mind to redirect your thoughts to the obsession.
[continues next post]
>My life just feels empty without these "interests," and I get pissed off/depressed that I can't just do what I want. I end up thinking "what the fuck is the point in living if I can't do the things I love?"
I think this is the core of the problem, meaning shipping for us (at the moment) means EVERYTHING. If it goes as we like, we get euphoric and drink champagne. If it goes to shit, we almost get depressed or delusional.
For me, the problem i have in overcoming these obsessions is the same as yours: i don't find anything else in my life more "appealing" than shipping when i'm alone with free time. I ask: how can a person who lived always of fantasies suddenly find IRL stuff more interesting or appealing than perfect made-up fantasies?
>As for becoming a casual... I just don't enjoy it. I know this because I have casual interests in lots of things. They don't really fulfil me, I just "enjoy" them if I've got nothing else to do.
Holy shit you really ARE me. I too have tons of other "mini-interests".
It's almost like a drug to me: i also enjoy listening to music, but what scratches my terrible itch is only obsession (for now with shipping), the rest i consider "wasted time".
Thanks again bro, and don't give up, even if we both don't know how to get out of the loop, i'm sure it is perfectly possible, and other anons can point out some psychological advice (There HAVE been rare times where i enjoyed the show i shipped the most for its main focus, the humour, rather than the romance, but i'm still too obsessed with the latter).
>emotional exaggeration the problem
What exactly does this mean? Are you talking about attaching emotions to "safe"/"perfect" things like media fantasies to avoid facing problems that IRL entails?
>Going cold turkey just challenges your mind to redirect your thoughts to the obsession.
You mean away from, right? Or am I just being an idiot?
>It's almost like a drug to me:
Exactly. It's exactly like a drug for me. I've fucked up my life on the same scale as a drug addict over this shit. And when you say "euphoria" that's exactly how it feels.
>the rest i consider "wasted time"
Random question, but have you ever considered that you might be autistic? Just asking because I myself am on the Aspergers side of the spectrum and this kind of obsessive behaviour is incredibly common in autistic people. I wouldn't have thought anything but the wording here "wasted time" is exactly how most autistics refer to time spent away from their obsession.
Obviously there's more to being autistic than just this, I was just saying because that particular phrase struck me as familiar.
I feel the same, I get really into ships, it has severely derailed several friendships because of RPing and getting into our characters so much that it weirds that person out. It's definitely escapism but there is a creative aspect to it that can be healing and fulfilling if you can become independent and find other sources of distraction. Look up "avoidant personality disorder" as it has elements of unsociable behavior and escapism. You may find some coping skills, you may also want to talk to a professional because cognitive behavioral therapy can help provide you with tools to not let it get out of control, and ways of finding healthy outlets. I mean, you can harness this obsession and let it drive you to create works of fiction or art that, even if you're unhappy with the results, in the end will result in honing your skills in those fields. You can accept this tendency as a gift that you can use to your benefit once you are aware of the pitfalls and learn to navigate them, and get better at feeling out how receptive others are to you "sperging" over your latest ship. That's kind of the great thing about forums; you do have this great anonymous outlet for those sorts of daydreams and it does fill in a need for intimacy where there is none in real life, but you will be unfulfilled unless you can find someone either equally fucked up or learn that you really don't need to be that matchy-matchy with a person to fall in love, if you can kind of keep your wankery to yourself and get along in a friendly way with someone who will keep you company. Sorry, run-ons abound.
>What exactly does this mean?
It means giving way too much importance to a problem which, yes, involves our emotions, but makes it bigger than it needs to be, and a strain for both mind and body.
No, it's not to avoid problems, i think i fantasize to stay bound to ideal relationships/lifes, all to not put myself out there and find things i enjoy in life. But again, i have the whole "but i like my fantasy way more than the real world" problem.
>You mean away from, right? Or am I just being an idiot?
It may seem counter-intuitive, but instead if you try to "distract" yourself, your mind will try its hardest to come back to the obsessive thought, unless the distraction is more powerful than the obsession , but that would probably results in yet another obsession.
>have you ever considered that you might be autistic?
I did, and i also talked about it in therapy. My therapist laughed and said autism is made of way more serious symptoms, and that i had no condition, just psychologic and emotional baggage to work on.
I'm pretty sure this is an element in common with autism, and there's nothing wrong with it. But no, i don't suffer from any condition.
You raise a good point, and shipping can definetly be channeled in something productive, as for every passion or interest.
The problem for me is that i'm an avid consumer, and to me shipping isn't inspiring of greater deeds, it just feels like a need for a daily dose of a strong drug. That's why i call it obsession, in the past i shipped with a light heart, now it's becoming an obsession.
I am already in therapy as i said before, i also asked here because i can't visit my therapist every day, and you anons have proved to have valuable advice. Do you know of any coping skills i could use in the most dire moments?
I was particularly struck by the "intimate anonymous outlet when there's none in real life", this could be part of my problem as well: aside from other people in therapy, i have none to which tell every single emotion, even the most shameful one.
I'll be honest, i didn't expect such useful and spot on advice from 4chan, especially on an easy-to-call-bait topic such as shipping, but of course the problem is obession, not shipping.
>No, it's not to avoid problems, i think i fantasize to stay bound to ideal relationships/lifes, all to not put myself out there and find things i enjoy in life. But again, i have the whole "but i like my fantasy way more than the real world" problem.
But that's what I'm saying. You seek out the fantasy because it's easy and perfect. You don't have to work at it or deal with all the imperfection("problems") of the real world. I'm not saying it's to avoid direct problems, it's more to avoid potential problems. Things like "real life is dull" is one of those potential problems. Although I personally think that this is a falsehood that the mind creates in order to keep itself wrapped up in its own fantasy.
The only time I was ever able to break the cycle, which I had to do out of necessity (I was living on the brink and so had to work too many hours to keep up an "obsession" habit), I surprisingly found myself in a completely different state of mind after a few weeks.
When I again had free time I tried to go back to my obsessions, my normal routine, but found it suddenly didn't interest me at all. I remember thinking to myself, "this is so dull and shallow, I can't believe I spend so much time on just doing this."
Unfortunately that state of mind didn't last, after I was once again comfortable, could pay my rent etc. I found myself sliding back into my old ways.
This is what makes me think that this kind of "obsessions" thing is to do with our minds being far too overactive for today's relatively trouble free life. Assuming, and I am, that you live in a first world country, it's likely that you, at 21, have never had to face any real hardships. Your life has never been in danger, you've never really had to worry beyond school grades, perhaps, and things like that.
That's not me trying to invalidate the stress that grades etc will put on the mind, but they are modern stresses. Which, biologically (if you have ever learnt anything in psychology/neuroscience/endocrinology maybe, it would be helpful here) our brains aren't really equipped to handle.
So basically, when faced with a world that is completely comfortable in terms of what our brains instinctively know how to do (stay alive) and dull in terms of stimulation (most modern stress causes will not bring out the stimulating "fight or flight" response, but instead a dull flow of stress hormone to the brain), our brains end up just focusing on creating fantasies to excite itself.
This is similar to the popular theory that dreams occur do to lack of stimulation in your conscious brain while you sleep, ie, your brain creates fantasies to entertain itself because it has nothing else to do.
Does this mean that the fantasy your brain has invented is inherently "better" than real life, or that real life is "dull"? I personally do not think so. I think your brain, from a young age, just gets comfortable within its own fantasy. It's getting all the reward hormone it needs/wants (that "euphoria" feeling you describe) so why bother putting in the effort to look around in real life, in the world that it's deemed from a young age to be "comfortable" (implication: not stimulating), for something that can give it what it can give itself?
The problem with this comes in when you, the conscious part of your brain, want to become part of society, part of the social group, but your brain has become addicted to its instant reward feeling from your obsessions and suddenly you can't deal with the slow-build reward that real life offers, and your brain can't really be bothered to try and find the rewards that the real world offers either.
>It may seem counter-intuitive, but instead if you try to "distract" yourself, your mind will try its hardest to come back to the obsessive thought, unless the distraction is more powerful than the obsession , but that would probably results in yet another obsession.
Ah yeah, we're saying the same thing lol, in my mind the strain came from trying to pull your thoughts away from the obsession, which becomes much harder the more you actively fight against it because your brain wants to stay in obsession mode.
It's almost exactly as you described. My minds makes up excuses to stay comfortable and in no-danger mode.
What i lack that you instead had for a while is that motivation/desire/appetite compared to my fantasy.
What i mean is that i'm not living a conflict between desire and vice, instead i'm just beating myself up for obsessing over something which provides euphoria at best and disappointment and delusion at worst.
I'm trying to do some physical activity each time i feel too emotionally invested in such obsessions, and it helps to make the feelings calm down, but the mind pattern is still the same, obsessive one.
You are very clear and aware about this issue, i'm glad you are helping me with it, it's rare to discuss such topics, especially when they regard a big chunk of emotivity for me. Thanks again anon.
>My minds makes up excuses to stay comfortable and in no-danger mode.
I think that this is the most important thing to remember and focus on when trying to get yourself out of this obsessive space. Your brain is always trying to keep itself in its safe equilibrium of fantasy.
For example, you said in an earlier post that going cold turkey isn't the answer (implied: "doesn't work") because
>Going cold turkey just challenges your mind to redirect your thoughts to the obsession.
Which is completely true. However just because your mind is constantly trying stick to its obsessive thought processes doesn't mean that going cold turkey doesn't work. It's again a matter of your brain trying to stop you from trying to "fix" yourself.
Going cold turkey can work very well, you just have to be determined and find something else to occupy your time. However your brain is attacking you from two angles:
1) It's constantly trying to push your focus back towards your obsession, making it difficult for you to focus on other things, even when you want to.
2) Your mind is also constantly telling you "this won't work, this method is useless, might as well give up now, let's think of another way to combat this. A way where I don't actually have to give anything up..."
For me, it's the second part that is the most difficult to combat. Because you often don't even realise that your brain has pushed you, once again, into your obsession and unhealthy thought processes.
To be clear, I don't think that going cold turkey is necessarily the answer for everyone, and I would have to know a lot more about the person to determine whether it's a helpful method for them, but I do think that writing it off completely is an example of 2).
This is where cognitive behavioural therapy(CBT) comes in. It's an incredibly effective method for this kind of problem as it aims to change how your brain thinks/processes. I definitely suggest that you bring it up with your therapist, or failing that, buy a book on how to do it yourself.
CBT will help you to not only recognise when your brain is starting to circle back on itself, into patterns that you want to avoid, but also it will help with 1), because you'll find it easier to resist the pull back into obsession, and actually to banish the thoughts all together.
In simple terms, what your therapist has told you, based on this post >>16876566 aims to find a method that "works around" the obsessive thinking patterns of your brain, and seems to focus more on the emotional aspect of it all, rather than the cognitive one. Meanwhile CBT aims to directly change the way that your brain works and processes information on the cognitive level.
I think you should avoid putting a lot of thought/weighting on your emotional feelings in all of this. Your emotions are not what causes this or what will help you out of it. I'd advise you to pretty much just "go with it" as far as your emotions go.
You feel that you're too emotionally invested in it? That's fine. Don't stress about that part itself. Look at why you're too emotionally invested in it. Chances are, the route cause is actually cognitive, ie, how you think.
I think you're already aware of this though,
>but the mind pattern is still the same, obsessive one
and that's why CBT is perfect for you. Using physical activity to clear your mind of distracting emotions is a good idea but it's never going to work long term when you don't have the tools to change how you think (CBT).
Sorry if I came across a bit preachy, it's just that I've been thinking about this a lot (it actually became an "obsession" of mine for a long while), and have been through psychiatric aid, so I have some inclining into what works/what doesn't.
The only reason I don't do CBT is because I can't afford it now that I'm legally an adult, lol, I was never able to do more than start it a for a few weeks before turning 18, and I'm still working on it. I may not have combated the obsession part of my baggage, but a lot of my other stuff cleared up in the last few years. This is the final hurdle, I suppose you could say.