A few years ago I wrote a post on overcoming OCD compulsions and how thinking of an opposite thought could combat the initial thought, so for example
‘I need to wash my hands until it feels right because I touched something dirty on the door handle and I might now be contaminated’
‘By washing your hands multiple times you are more likely to get dry chapped hands and therefore pick up an infection from somewhere’
This worked for me and got rid of my compulsions completely but I now realise it’s even simpler then trying to find an opposite thought, all you actually have to do is create doubt in the compulsion, as soon as your mind doubts that the compulsion will actually give you relief if becomes pointless to do the compulsion at all.
People who suffer with OCD generally feel a sense of over responsibility for other people, this responsibility creates incredible anxiety at times and so compulsions can arise to try and neutralise this. Have you ever noticed that sharing your intrusive thought with someone else and hearing them confirm that it is silly makes you feel a lot less fearful? Well this is because by telling someone else the responsibility for that thought becomes shared with that person and so your responsibility has somewhat been diminished – ever heard of the saying ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’? well if you think about it the problem itself hasn’t actually changed at all, you just feel less responsible for it.
By hearing someone say, ‘yes I checked the oven was off too’, this immediately takes away some of your responsibility for whether the oven was on or not and offers you some relief but what if you could create this relief for yourself?
What if you said to yourself;
‘By checking the oven a second time I am creating self doubt which will lead to further uncertainty. ‘
Did you know the more times you check the cooker/front door/iron or whatever it is, the more likely you are to doubt whether it is actually off.
You can do this with any OCD compulsion, you just have to create some doubt in the thought, here’s another example;
‘What if when I went over that pothole in the car it wasn’t actually a pothole but a person, I must go back and check’
Driving related compulsions can be really hard to overcome but I always tell myself;
‘If I go back and check I increase my rate of hitting someone by 50% as I have to drive back over the same road again, I also give the doubt credit in my head and create more doubt’.
This puts enough doubt into the compulsion to make it worth sitting with the uncertainty and of course eventually it goes.
Doing things a set amount of times was always a huge one for me. I had to do things 4 times as I was growing up as there were 4 members of my immediate family and if I didn’t do things 4 times something would happen to one of them. If I had a bad thought whilst doing the compulsion 4 times I would then have to start again or do things in multiples of 4 until I got through a set without having an intrusive thought, Believe me when I say that this was unbelievably time consuming and very quickly escalated into having to do pretty much everything 4 or 8/12/16/20 etc times.
Create doubt with number related compulsions by telling yourself;
‘The more times I do something the more likely the intrusive thought is to happen. ‘
THIS WORKS!!! Please try it!
It feels like quite a hard concept to explain but I know other people can benefit from ‘Compulsion doubt’. If you feel this could be something that might work for you then please let me know and I will try and write up a few more examples.
I really hope this can help you as much as it has me, we really are more powerful than the intrusive thoughts we have,
Stay Strong xxx
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