OCD looks different for everyone. Even though the fears and what-if thoughts may fit into similar categories, no one has the same OCD experience as you. But, there is one thing that all OCD experiences have in common – the desire for certainty. OCD loves certainty and will convince you to do all kinds of things you don’t want to be doing to get it.
Every compulsion you do in response to OCD thoughts has a connection to certainty.
Are you avoiding going to a park that you love? Maybe OCD wants you to be certain that you won’t hurt any of the kids there. Do you check the locks on your doors over and over? Perhaps OCD tells you that you need to be certain that no one can get inside because you’ll be responsible if something is damaged or stolen. Have you stopped saying specific words or avoiding particular numbers? Maybe OCD is telling you that doing so is the only way to be certain something bad won’t happen. Do you find yourself analyzing certain thoughts over and over, trying to figure out if they say something deeper about you? It could be that OCD is trying to get you to figure out for sure if you’re a good person or not.
We could go on and on with examples, but you get the picture – OCD traps you by trying to make you 100%, absolutely positively, beyond the shadow of a doubt certain. Here’s the thing, though…
there’s no such thing as certainty… and that’s okay!
There is no way to be 100000% certain (or even 100% for that matter) that the things you fear will not come true. And while that fact will send OCD into a tailspin, it’s actually really helpful for you to understand when you’re trying to beat OCD into the dust. If OCD is telling you to search for certainty and you go along with it, you will get stuck in a never-ending cycle – hunting over and over for the certainty OCD says is there. But, if you can accept that you’ll never be able to know for sure, you stop OCD in its tracks. OCD will eventually realize that you’re pushing back and not searching for the certainty it wants. OCD will have nothing to use against you. Congratulations – you just stood up to the OCD bully!
Learning that uncertainty is okay is not easy and involves doing things that make you uncomfortable. But, it is possible! With Exposure and Response Prevention Therapy (ERP), you have the opportunity to purposefully practice being in uncomfortable and uncertain situations so you can learn how to tolerate the discomfort rather than continuing to listen to the OCD.
Remember – if certainty did exist, OCD wouldn’t convince you to keep doing the same things or have the same thoughts over and over. Once would have been enough!
If you’re ready to beat OCD and stop searching for certainty, you’re in the right place! OCD North is here to help you on your recovery journey.
Read About Our OCD Treatment Options.
Our clinicians are OCD and Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) specialists. We understand OCD as it manifests in the pediatric and adult populations, families, schools, and the workplace. We utilize ERP to break the cycle of OCD individually and systemically to help you achieve your goals. Read more about our services.