I often get myself caught up in conversations I either had myself, or was adjacent to in the recent past.
I’ll spend hours pouring over the details and how things could’ve been tweaked or phrased differently to achieve a different result. I try to imagine how either I or the other person came to the conclusion that was presented. I wonder if either of us learned anything about each other, about ourselves. I try to maximize what I said with fewer words.
It is something that I spend a lot of mental energy involving myself in. It is something that I have learned a lot from in my life. And it is something that, I am sure, a lot of you do regularly as well, to varying degrees.
It is also my third major obsession. I have mentioned two others in previous posts, dating back to mid-March. The other two (body image and success) are much larger issues for me than this obsessing over completed interactions, in that the others give me much more grief. However, this is the obsession that consumes most of my time.
I want to delineate that I am not talking about obsessing over a conversation gone wrong, or an argument, or something that was particularly bad. Most of the time I obsess over conversations I simply heard but never engaged in. I spend just as much time mulling the details of a good talk as a bad one. Hell, I constantly re-read and wish I had changed almost everything on this blog, or the three CDs I recorded, or papers I wrote in college. I gave one best man speech that went really well, I got compliments on it all night long. And yet I open it up every so often and tweak the jokes as if I am giving it next week.
I also tend to do this for future talks I have not yet had. I also think this is extremely common, so much so that I don’t even want to talk about this aspect as being a problem for me, even though it is equally nutty.
My desire is to have a perfect conversation every time. And I guess the only way to get there is to study the turns of each conversation I have had. I don’t think this is bad, like I said before, I have learned a great deal from it, mostly how to be less of an asshole and how to stay out of more conversations I doubt will go well. But I think there is a line as to where this goes from normal and constructive to obsessive and damaging, and I think I like to play jump rope with that line.
Letting go is a big time theme in my therapy sessions. I need to let go of my body issues, people love and respect me regardless of what I look like. I need to let go of my success issues, I have more, live more comfortably, and can achieve more than most people. I need to let go of things I cannot change, like conversations I have already had or papers I have already submitted.
But it is tough to let go, isn’t it?