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How to Overcome Love Addiction & Obsessive Longing

08 Mar

Question:

Hello, I struggle with love addiction, in the form of obsessive romantic thoughts.  Do you have any suggestions for guided imagery that would help with that?  I used your grieving imagery after a breakup, and I've used your OCD imagery more recently, but it would be nice to find something that specifically would help with this problem.  Thank you for your great work!

Brendan

Answer:

Dear Brendan,

I’m sorry, I have nothing more specific for you, imagery-wise, in the romantic obsession department – you’ve chosen the right titles.  The Grief CD especially aims at encouraging you to incorporate the image of the lost loved person into your heart, which, psychologically, is how we all ultimately resolve loss.  In a sense, we have them and get to carry them around with us on the inside, all the time.  The Freudians call this internalizing the object.  Some of us have a heck of a time pulling this off, especially if we lost a parent at a very young age or had a parent who was pretty unavailable and not “there” to be lost.  For others, it’s something that proceeds fairly automatically (even when the loss is extremely painful).  The relative ease or difficulty mostly depends on how we were parented and how we handle anxiety in general – although if the losses pile up too rapidly, the whole mechanism can go on overload and freeze up. Traditional counseling with the right person can be very helpful here.

But I would suggest that anything you can do to turn your thoughts, attention and awareness inward, toward your own insides, and away from your longing for stuff (or in this case, people) on the outside, would be very much to the good.  So maybe it would be a good thing for you to crank it up a notch and try learning a mindfulness practice.

Mindfulness, where you keep focusing your awareness on all the internal sensations, perceptions, feelings, thoughts and emotions that float into consciousness, and then constantly release them, could be just the ticket.  This brilliantly designed, ancient practice is very good for helping us humans deal with any sort of suffering.  And it has the added benefit of filling up all that perceived emptiness on the inside (which is what obsessive longing for someone or something else is all about) with yourself. You find your own resources and “fullness”, moment to moment, with this practice.  And you’re constantly learning to let go, let go, let go.  So, by its very nature, it’s sort of the antidote to obsessive longing of any kind.

I’m very impressed with the work of Bodhipaksa, a superb teacher with loads of kindness and compassion in his voice. I think his style and presence, which you can sense in the audio, might be very grounding for you.  (Believe it or not, he’s a Scottish guy, despite the exotic name.)  You may want to try his Guided Meditations for Calmness, Awareness & LoveJack Kornfield’s Meditation for Beginners is another excellent choice for you.  Or, for something a little more active, the brilliant work of Suzanne Scurlock-Durana might be just right.  Her Healing from the Core gets you doing more body awareness & work with the breath, sound and movement – very grounding and “filling” indeed.

I hope this helps.

All best,

Belleruth
 

Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award