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Is This a Healthy Coping Mechanism?

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From the U.S.: Throughout most of my life (since I started puberty and all that at least) I would use hobbies/people to fulfill and void or something in my life. For example, one of my first “obsessions” was the hobby/sport dance. Once I started becoming very skilled and surpassing my friends/peers in my dance studio I started to realize that people saw me as a winner, somebody important. I got it in my head that this is the one thing you are good at, don’t ever lose or let them see you fail. So I would put an enormous amount of pressure on myself to do well and beat others so I would be seen as good at something or special to other people.

My next obsession become being skinny. I was already pretty thin, but I fell into a whole where I had to keep getting thinner. In my mind it was you may be ugly, you may be dumb, you may be single, but at least you are skinny and have self control. It showed others a way I was better then them and it gave me a way to get ahead of everybody subconsciously I think.

I’ve never been an envious or jealous person in any way, so it always confuses me why I thought this way at times. My next obsession became my dance teacher, I had to have her approval and if I didn’t, it tore me apart and I was anxious. Everything was based on her opinion of me and how she treated me. It was as if her approval and opinion was the only thing that mattered, and I think it stemmed from my obsession with dance.

While each obsession I realized their toxicity and completely pushed them out of my life and don’t talk about any of them and if I do it’s in a very defensive and bad way. I have a deep dislike for that dance teacher now as well.

My last obsession is my now boyfriend, I am dependent on him even though I desperately don’t want to be because I know its wrong. I find myself basing my emotions and daily task off of how he talks to me throughout the day and when I get to see him. Granted I don’t get to see him often because of his extremely busy job, but still it is toxic. What could be issue?

Is This a Healthy Coping Mechanism?

Answered by on -


I can’t make a diagnosis on the basis of a letter. You already know the succession of “obsessions” is unhealthy — both physically and mentally. I suspect that at least part of the problem lies in a low self-esteem. In order to feel “good enough”, you need to feel like you are doing something better than others or that you mean more to someone else. However, the fact that you go from one extreme to the other suggests that there may be an additional mental health issue as well.

The various obsessions are only a temporary “fix” for whatever is troubling you and. As you know, you stand to lose yet another important relationship. I strongly urge you to make an appointment with a mental health counselor to figure out the root of the problem and to discuss ways to deal with it. Peace of mind and personal growth can be the result of getting involved in some therapy.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

Is This a Healthy Coping Mechanism?

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Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2018). Is This a Healthy Coping Mechanism?. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 7, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 24 Jun 2018 (Originally: 26 Jun 2018)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 24 Jun 2018
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