A dear friend of mine from across the pond questioned my choice of words the other day when I referred to myself as “obsessive” about the cutouts I have been producing at a dizzying rate. As soon as I finish one, I told her, a new idea pops into my head, beckoning, impossible to resist. So what do I do? I put my cutting paraphernalia back on the table, reopen my bin, and proceed to execute the next idea. And the next. In short, I cannot stop.
My friend listened. “How about calling it a passion rather than an obsession? It’s much more positive. Besides, that’s what it is, isn’t it? A passion of yours.” She went on to describe me as creative, passionate, totally focused whenever I take on a project. Art is my latest project.
She is right, of course. I do not see myself as pathologically obsessive, therefore I had no business using the label. Furthermore, I am wary of labeling which I find limiting and restrictive. In the field of mental health, labeling can cause damage to a client’s perception of self by appearing to validate symptomatic behavior that does not warrant such labeling. But the label sticks, acquiring a life of its own.
What my friend did was to reframe a situation by changing one word.
OBSESSION → PASSION
That substitution made way for another perspective, which I embraced. We learn about ourselves by having our perspective challenged. Imagine the power of reframing in conflict resolution!
Tonight, as I cut and clip and tape and glue well into the night, I will remember my wise friend’s words. (I feel an idea coming, sorry, must go.)