Many of my obsessions and compulsions center on worries about harming other people. I over-wash so I don’t contaminate others. I over-worry about the safety of others. Beyond these, however, I’ve also found myself at times obsessing about secretly insulting people. A prime example of this is something I’ve struggled on-and-off with over the past several years.
At some point my brain latched onto the fact that the word “four” and “whore” rhymed. My OCD took off with that. If I was texting a friend, groups of four letters or four words were stressful. For example, if I texted, “Have a nice day!” to someone, my OCD told me that I was secretly calling them a whore because there were four words in the text, and “four” rhymed with “whore.” It didn’t matter if they would never know this themselves. It was enough to fill me with guilt. This obsession would also appear when I worked with numbers at work. If I happened to be thinking about someone when I typed a “4″ on my computer, I’d feel like I was calling them a whore, and would have to retype the number. Retyping the number did one of two things in my mind: it either gave me a chance to type it while not thinking of that person, or if I couldn’t not think of the person, typing the second four would represent me, as in, “Hey, I’m calling myself a whore too! We’re in this together!”
Of course, as with most of my obsessions and compulsions, this is illogical and I of course wouldn’t call any of my friends whores. But the anxiety over this is real and incapacitating.
One day, I had a slight epiphany.
All of this time I was focused on avoiding the negative (made-up) impact on my loved ones that made me give in to OCD. But I never considered the positive REAL impact on my loved ones if I didn’t give in to OCD. People have been able to beat OCD by not giving in to it. Each time I refused to give in to OCD would be a little gift to my loved ones, another step in the right direction. A step toward healing and a step toward less stress in my life and theirs. This gave me extra strength to fight – I wasn’t fighting my obsessions and compulsions simply because I knew I SHOULD, I was now fighting them because each victory was a little present that (whether they knew it or not) I was giving to my family and friends. Suddenly, some of my inner monologues started looking like this:
“Oh, I just typed a four while thinking about ____________. I should go back and retype that.
No, wait! Screw OCD, I’m NOT going to give in. It will be my gift to ____________. She will be much happier if I beat OCD.”
When I reframed it in this positive way, I started seeing some positive results. This “gift-giving” method has been helpful to me, and I hope it will be helpful to you.
Do you have any “hacks” that help you deal with/beat OCD?