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There are many categories and assortments of things to collect, from soda cans to vintage cars. But for some the enjoyment that collecting can bring as a hobby is offset by the destructive nature it gains as an obsession.

As an over-riding priority it can cause problems for productivity and a personal life. The obsession can over-ride and control your daily life and the financial costs can cripple depending on the obsession.

My question is, "How you can identify if your collecting behavior has 'crossed the line' and become destructive, and if it has what are the best steps towards stopping this behavior."

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I think this could be broadened to any hobby that begins to invade personal productivity time. Similar: How to control or change habits – Gaʀʀʏ Jul 10 '13 at 15:58
up vote 1 down vote accepted

If you think that it may have crossed the line, than in probably did. The main sympthom is that you feel this behaviour is controlling you to some extent.

If you feel this, you should return the control back to your side. It might mean that you are spending the same time/money on collecting, but not discarding other aspects of your life and are ready to slow down your collecting activity if another aspect needs attention.

Now you can say: well, I don't know what is really important, and I don't think other aspects of my life need attention. You may be cheating here. To find it and to embrace more deliberate behaviour, you can start by asking youself a question: "What do I want (now/today)?" and find at least 5 (that's important!) answers to this. Better if you do it in written form, using pen and paper.

This will help you realize that your life is not just about collecting and that you actually would like to do other things too. Compare with just restricting yourself in collecting activity without giving yourself any substitute.

These advice were given to me by my psychologist regarding another type of obsessive behaviour. I believe this should work more or less universally.

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The question can be answered in connection to one's life top goals. Is the collecting a top goal in his/her life? That's another issue. If not, is it getting in the way of these top life goals? Is it a break time or taking time from otherwise much more important activities?

I hope these questions can help you in the answer.

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Additionally - do you enjoy collecting, or are you just compelled to collect? – Rory Alsop Jul 10 '13 at 13:24
Once you're addicted to something, I think it's hard to realize and acknowledge the problem. You may need somebody sane and trustworthy from the outside to tell you to stop doing it. And crucially, how do you stop it? – Gruber Jul 10 '13 at 21:13

It's a problem when it negatively impacts the major areas of your life.

Health - lack of sleep, not eating properly, getting enough excercise, or creating an injury (Skydiving 100 times a day until you blow a knee out.).

Relationships - stay in contact and interact with family and friends. Find/keep a significant other.

Job/Income/Career - If your work suffers to the point where you lose too much income or you're not able to advance or perform to an acceptable level.

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Even though there's an accepted answer, I thought I would add some concrete signs that your interest may have become an obsession.

  • You have no room for more items
  • You can't remember whether you have a particular item
  • You have multiple copies of the same item (perhaps because you didn't remember that you already had it.
  • You can't bring yourself to get rid of a duplicate/triplicate even though it's not in as good a condition as another item
  • You're spending money that should have gone to something else (emergency funds, retirement, food, etc.)
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+1 because this hits the nail on the head. If <your activity here> is impacting the other areas of your life it is a sign (at least) that it is crossing the line. – Arbalest Oct 11 '13 at 13:34

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