We can all probably admit to having the odd obsession or two, I think this is normal and won’t have a massive impact on our lives, if we have to have the certain thing in our home in symmetry or we have to do things in a particular way. Maybe we like the tins all in order in our pantry or the bed made just so, or we can’t relax until the kid’s toys are packed away. This can be a never-ending task with children, as soon as it packed away even if they haven’t used it in ages they seem compelled to want them out again. Maybe we all have this need for the things we haven’t got and spend our lives craving for those things instead of enjoying what we have got.
For some people, these obsessions have grown totally out of proportion and they can be suffering from a condition called obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). OCD is an anxiety disorder in which people have unwanted, intrusive and repeated thoughts, feelings, images, sensations and obsessions. People with this condition respond to these thoughts with behaviours or mental acts. Often the person carries out the behaviours to reduce the impact or get rid of the obsessive thoughts, but this only brings temporary relief and actually is at the heart of the issue, as it just feeds the obsessive insecurity. But, not performing the obsessive rituals can cause great anxiety and this is often what drives people into the habits, thoughts and rituals.
There are lots of different obsessional issues such as being compulsively neat and organised; fearing germs, dirt, contamination, intruders, or imagining hurting loved ones or behaving in a way that conflicts with religious beliefs or non-socially accepted behaviour. People with OCD can do repetitive things such as washing hands, locking and unlocking doors, counting, touching things, seek constant reassurance, checking things are off or closed, keeping unneeded items, or repeating the same steps to any task again and again. For many people, it can be the over whelming need to do the act and ritual, if they don’t the anxiety continues to grow and it’s is so over whelming so they continue searching for relief in the acts. Paranoia can play a big part in the obsessions and when in the heightened OCD state, people can find it hard to think clearly and rationally, but at other times be quite aware that it is irrational. Other issues and phobias such as hoarding, hair pulling, body dysmorphia and health anxiety may also have this obsessional link. If you are suffering from these issues seeking help from your GP, mental health team and specialists like myself in helping you deal with these conditions.
If you know someone who has this condition from the outside looking in it can seem hard to understand and deal with it. But think back to when you have had a big issue your dealing with, maybe you are having to change jobs or deal with a relationship breakdown, we can go and over and over it in our minds thinking about the issue. We can get anxious, not sleep well, get paranoid, feel preoccupied with the thoughts and feelings, getting totally consumed with it. Normally over time we resolve the issues and the thoughts go away. Expand this many times over and that’s a bit what it’s like to suffer from OCD, the only difference is, is that there is no resolution to be found as the OCD is an irrational fear based habit. If we are suffering from these issues it’s time to admit that there will never be a resolution to these obsessions, the search to feel clean just make people feel more unclean, as it’s the search for safety and security outside of ourselves instead of inside of ourselves. The need to know we’re not dying of cancer or any other health issue, is unanswerable too, as none of us know what the future brings and we have to learn to be in the moment. If you haven’t already read the blog Serial Worrier then do so, as it will help with the worry cycle which goes with these obsessive thoughts.
It’s essential to not feed the habits with reassurance and over support as this can add to the OCD, if you see the thoughts like a drug the more you have the more you want. If you continue taking the drugs the more incoherent you feel and the more out of control you become. What is needed is to develop safety and security within you, in turn working on distracting yourself from the thoughts and breaking the negative rituals. The last blog was about positive rituals and this can help as well, by changing how and when we do things disrupts the habits and obsessions. People with OCD door locking issues, often feel better when away on holiday, as the habit is ingrained in their own door and not the new door they are opening while away. Obviously, we can’t change our front door or move to a new house to resolve this, but we could paint it a different colour, use the back door as well as the front, approach it from different ways, park in a different place. All of these will help break the patterns, as it the patterns that pull us and hold us in the OCD habits. Using mental distraction helps too, music, talking books, talking on the phone even learning a new language can help. The less we think the less anxious we feel the less compulsive we feel, the easier it is to be rational and in control.
If the thoughts come when we wake then don’t just lie there and feed them do something different, use hypnotherapy cd’s, a talking book, go for a run, anything other than feeding the thoughts. Setting new rituals, like the blog rituals talked about last week the good ones, also taking up new hobbies which build confidence as the more confident we are the more we can help to build the inner feelings of safety and security.
Keep doing the same thing will only lead to the same outcome it’s time to change. I know having issues can be hard but I think it’s harder to stay as you are, then it is to challenge yourself to change. Changing is a challenge to our inner minds as innately we are all creatures of habit due to how we used to live our lives but, I do believe at some stage we will change. So why put it off? We are not in control of why we feel the way we do, but we are in control of pushing ourselves to change, don’t waste another day living with your obsessions or bad habits.
Make today your fresh start, confusing the habits, obsessions and patterns will help to soften the hold they have over you. Accept no one can ever give you the answers you search, but you can find and develop the security you need inside to feel safe to live your life without these obsessions.
I do understand as I have been negatively obsessed myself, but I have found the new positive habits and rituals which have not only helped me release the horrible ones, but they have helped me be a better version of myself and I can’t ask anymore of myself than that.
Thanks for dropping by, have a great day