Let me explain what the reassuring click is.
When I take a shower, I use liquid soap and shampoo, both in bottles that make a snapping sound when the top is pushed back to the closed position.
I depend on that snapping sound to tell me that the bottle is properly closed.
Because if it’s not properly closed, then one of the cats might be able to open the soap or shampoo bottle and lick the soap or shampoo.
Never mind the fact that neither cat has ever shown an interest in doing such a thing. Never mind the fact that Sam doesn’t get in the shower. Never mind that Chase doesn’t have free rein of the house unless he’s supervised.
The OCD mind just cares that it could happen.
Different bottles make different sounds when they’re being closed. Some snaps are a loud clunk. Some are more of a faint tap.
The OCD mind particularly doesn’t like the faint taps. The loud clunks are more reassuring. But even the loud clunks have their problems. Because the OCD mind can find reasons to doubt even those.
The result is that I spend time in the shower opening and closing each bottle I use several times until the resulting snapping sound is “right.” That elusive “rightness” that only the OCD mind can recognize.
I’ve described my shower routine before in a post about OCD and slowness. I have gotten a little faster in my routine since I started focusing more on exposure and response prevention, but I still had rituals, including the bottle-closing ritual.
So I decided that I was going to address that particular ritual.
I decided that I was going to have to live with closing each bottle just once, no matter what sound was made when I closed the bottles.
“I’m just going to have to live with it” would become my mantra in the shower.
So I tried it. And it worked.
I liked having the decision already made that I would close each bottle one time only. I would not allow myself to open and close it repeatedly until I liked the sound it made.
Of course, that means that I have to tolerate the anxiety of not knowing for sure if the bottles are properly closed.
But I am finding that the anxiety actually fades pretty quickly as I focus on finishing my shower, drying my hair, getting dressed, etc.
Now I’m wondering if it would be helpful to apply this “I’m just going to have to live with it” mantra to other OCD rituals.
What are some of the things you tell yourself as you strive to make changes in your life?