Wednesday, October 3, 2012

OCD and taking on responsibility

Four months ago, as I wrote about my plans for my 50th year, I included the following: “I also want to be more in service to others.”
I have found one way to be more in service, but I didn’t come to it easily.
On Sunday, I was installed as the communications coordinator for the United Methodist Women Mission Team in the district that I live in.
My duties will include doing the quarterly newsletter.
It’s a volunteer position that seemed to entail more responsibility than I was at first willing to take on.

Being responsible for something that affects others has been a problem for me for much of my life because of my obsessive-compulsive disorder.
  Mostly it has to do with being responsible for the safety and welfare of another creature, whether person or animal.
  For example, that’s why it was so difficult for me to take on the responsibility of having a pet.
  But my concerns about taking on more responsibility also have to do with taking on anything that I might get anxious about or worry about.
With this volunteer position, I worried about whether or not I would be able to do the job. What if I couldn’t do the newsletter? What if I did it incorrectly? What if I sent out incorrect information? What if I was unable to stop thinking of the responsibility? What if there was always something to worry about?

I considered whether or not to accept the position. Finally, I decided to say yes to the responsibility and no to the OCD.
Here’s why:

*I don’t have to do it alone. I can ask for help. In fact, I’ve already been told that there’s help available if I need it. And I’ll receive training later this month.
In most situations we find ourselves in, we can ask for help, and there’s no shame in that.
*I’m not responsible for the world. I’m just responsible for one position and those tasks.
*I can learn to live with the anxiety. I may worry about the work in between assignments, but I can learn to tolerate it. I am developing tools to manage anxiety,.
*I can learn to live with the uncertainty. I don’t have to be certain that I’ll do a great job. I may, I may not. But I can’t see into the future, no matter how much I imagine it. I don’t have full control over the results. All I can do is put in my best efforts.
*I can help others. And wasn’t that the goal in the first place?

  Are you ever afraid of taking on a new responsibility? How do you calm your fears about your responsibilities?

32 comments:

  1. Congratulations on the new fun volunteer position you have accepted!! Many more congratulations to being able to take a step back and see things more reasonably. You are doing this to help others and also for yourself, you will do great!

    I do understand though how you OCD can have so much control. I don't really worry about responsibility, but what I obsess about is things being perfect. About whether or not people will praise me or think I am good enough, not really about having a responsibility over others, but I do understand though.

    Once again, congrautlations on standing up to OCD.

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    1. Thank you, Yaya, I appreciate your encouragement! Perfectionism is a problem of mine, too.

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  2. Oh wow, Tina - you just read my mind. I have been mulling over a post on responsibility myself because it is such a key part of my OCD!!

    I'm really proud of you for forcing yourself to take the position and not let OCD win. I know it will be hard on you at times (and for that I'm so sorry) but I also know you can get through it and someday you will look back on this and be so glad that you faced your fears. Totally awesome!!

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    1. Thank you, Sunny! And if you do a post on responsibility, I will look forward to reading it. It's a bear of a problem sometimes, isn't it?

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  3. I get this!!

    Congrats on your new position and also congrats on finding ways to combat the "responsibility OCD."

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  4. Wonderful that you have taken this step Tina! Once you start you might actually enjoy it more than you can anticipate now. I did the newsletter for the Methodist Church when I was in Africa and it was great fun.
    I'm not as good in taking on responsibility as I was in the past. I think with the children living on their own now I have too much time to worry about things, where when they were still at home I often just had to do things without having the time to fret about it.
    And the bipolar disorder has become worse, which means that I have to avoid things that cause a great deal of emotion or I get into real trouble. Pretty boring to live as careful as this at times, but this is simply the way it is.
    I have started to make blankets for charity though, which I can do in my own time, without pressure, in the way I want to. And that gives a certain amount of satisfaction and the feeling that I'm pushing myself at least a little bit.

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    1. Thank you, Klaaske. I think it's neat that you did a newsletter, too! And what you're doing--making the blankets--is a beautiful thing to do.

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  5. Good for you! I hope you enjoy giving back in this way, and you're so well suited for it!

    I wish I had more time to volunteer. I do hope to do more when the boys are older.

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    1. Thank you, Lisa. My goodness, you do so much work in raising three great boys!

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  6. I get what you are saying. I worry about the same things. Bravo to you for doing it anyways. I need to do that more in life...I just need to do it anyways!♥

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    1. Thank you, Shannon! Worrying about responsibilities is no fun, is it? But all any of us can do is our best.

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  7. I'm big on avoidance. Doing the newsletter sounds like fun to me though!

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    1. Kristina, I think it will be fun. I enjoyed doing it at my old job.

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  8. Good for you, Tina, for not letting OCD call the shots. I'm sure you'll do a great job, and I bet it will be a wonderful experience overall. You should be proud of yourself for going for it!

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  9. Oh, heck yes. I can feel my chest tighten at the prospect of taking on certain things I know I'm led to do. Pema Chodron book Comfortable With Uncertainty is a wonderful guide through these times. Like others, I'm sure you will do fine. Sounds like you know how to approach this. Good luck!

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    1. Thank you, Galen, And thank you for the book recommendation!

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  10. Congratulations on your new position!! Sounds absolutely wonderful and right up your alley. I also like the positive points you made on handling some of the emotions that often come with responsibilities, I am going to copy and paste those points onto my note pad in my phone to help me as well.

    You are full of wisdom and goodness and I have no doubt you will do well in your endeavours.

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    1. Madison, thank you for such a kind comment--I appreciate it!

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  11. That is awesome Tina, they are fortunate to have you on board.
    As for your questions, yes I am often afraid to take on new responsibilities. I am afraid to overwhelm myself and I am afraid to let people down. And I need to learn how to ask for help - that it is actually healthy to know when you need help and to ask for it.
    To calm my fears I tell myself that if I try something it doesn't have to be for "forever" and if I do get overwhelmed I can say so or ask for help. Helping out with our Vacation Bible School this year, especially helping prepare the snack time, was one of those instances where I just jumped in and did it. I will help next year too but I probably won't volunteer to do the food-craft part like I did this year. I was happy I tried something new, I guess you never know if the shoe fits unless you try it on, right?

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    1. Krystal Lynn, thank you. Those are so good techniques that you use to calm your fears. I'm going to try those.

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  12. Volunteering is a great thing, more people should do that, but most do only think about earning money - the more the better. But for me it's more important to interact with other people, to help them in what way ever. I can understand you, that you are afraid you might do anything wrong. I am also afraid when something new comes up. So I keep thinking whether to do it or not. Sometimes I think way too much, that's often my biggest problem, but then I try to convince myself that maybe I'll regret it some day if I won't do it. Why not give it a try? Maybe I'm not as bad as I think.

    It's wonderful that you said yes, I guess you'll do a great job. Helping others is the best thing a human being can do - so I think everyone is happy to have you on board!!

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    1. Thank you, Sanny, for your kind comment. I think too much, also, quite often, in fact.

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  13. Congratulations and well done for accepting. I think how you have named the areas of potential anxiety and found positive solutions to those areas is the best way to combat anxiety and enable you to proceed. A good model for dealing with other issues or projects/goals. Thank you for sharing. Blessings.

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    1. Thank you, BTS! Sometimes it does help to name the anxiety and then about how to counteract it.

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  14. Congratulations! I hope it works out well. And this was a good reminder about it not being shameful to ask for help. I seem to forget that regularly :)

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    1. Abigail, thank you! I tend to ask for help reluctantly. Somehow, I think I should be able to do it on my own, and that's not the best way sometimes.

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  15. Oh Tina!! Did you just remind me that I am not responsible for the world !!?? Thank you so much -I need to keep that thought close to me because of the perfectionism I suffer with!!

    You can do this:)) ... and once you get more involved, I can imagine how good it will make you feel after all. (Better feelings than anxiety, at least this is what my therapist tells -choose my anxiety. )

    Blessings & Joy!!
    ~Deanna

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  16. I get extremely anxious whenever I have to take new responsibilities. I need now to try and find a job and that scares me to death.

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    1. Nikky, I know it must be scary, but I know you have the strength within to do it. I'll be thinking about you!

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