Just as everyone can have unique qualities – so too can OCD. OCD can present itself in many fashions – each individual having different and unique obsessions and compulsions.
When acknowledging compulsions, we want to remember that they are mental or physical acts completed to reduce distress, often by seeking certainty. One way to seek certainty and experience relief from the worry, albeit short-term relief, is by seeking reassurance.
Unfortunately, we quickly learn that OCD will never be satisfied with reassurance. Often resulting in asking questions repeatedly and sometimes arguing over the answer or insisting the answer be repeated or rephrased. Ultimately, we are seeking the answer to an unanswerable question to relieve feelings of distress. Unfortunately, this strengthens OCD in the process.
Reassurance Seeking Example,
You heard a bump while driving and feared you’d run someone over. You immediately called your partner to ask if they thought you ran someone over.
· The person was not with you; therefore, they are not qualified to answer.
· You seek a specific answer to relieve anxiety, an answer they cannot provide.
· You may seek to repeat the question or ask another person.
We recognize there are times you genuinely need to know information. But how do you know if you ask to genuinely know vs. seek reassurance?
Well, there is a difference between the two; seeking information would be asking a question once and asking to be informed with the truth by someone qualified to answer the question.
We also want to ensure that when seeking information, we are not asking when experiencing distress or a sense of urgency, as this quickly becomes a compulsion. This is where waiting 24-hours may be of benefit.
Seeking Information Example,
Your car is making a loud noise. You are concerned that there is something wrong with it. So you called the following day, and you called the mechanic to schedule an appointment.
- You sought the person who is qualified.
- You are not asking if driving is safe before they look at it.
- The answer they provide will be the answer you take instead of re-asking multiple times.
Overall, reassurance may afford us short-term relief, but it costs us by strengthening the OCD Cycle, making OCD stronger and louder.
If you are seeking reassurance, reach out to OCD Wellness for a consult to get started on learning the proper tools to end the OCD Cycle.
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