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Signs of OCD – What are Mental Rituals?

In this second blog post in the Signs of OCD series, I discuss mental rituals.  I break down what mental rituals are and how to know if you are using (or relying) on them. 

Mental rituals are special statements that are repeated in your mind to get rid of distress or anxiety.  It could be counting, a special prayer, or simply a special statement such as, “I don’t need that.”

Mental rituals are not the same as “Pure O” OCD. I’ll talk about that in another post.  For now, it is important to know that mental rituals are not obsessions. 

Are you mentally ritualizing?

  1. When you experience anxiety does it reduce when you say your special statement?
  2. Do you find that saying this special statement is taking up a lot of your time and/or disrupting your life?
  3. Is there a strong, hard-to-resist urge to use your statement?
  4. Could you choose to not use the statement?  If the thought of this causes you to feel anxiety, you may be mentally ritualizing. 

If the answer to any of these questions was “yes,” start to notice what you say to yourself, when you say it, and try to not use the statement and see what happens.  Does your anxiety go up?