For example, I store my razor in the medicine cabinet in my bathroom. I take it out and use it in the shower when I shave my legs. After my shower, I return the razor to the medicine cabinet.
When returning the razor, I’ve been placing it on the shelf and then staring at it, trying to memorize what it looks like on the shelf, waiting to feel satisfied enough with its safety to close the cabinet door.
I’m trying to convince myself that the razor is indeed on the shelf.
It’s orange. It’s sitting on the top shelf. It’s there. It’s there. It’s there.
I do this until I feel the anxiety lessen.
That’s not what I should be doing.
What I should be doing is placing the razor on the shelf, closing the door, and then going on about my business, focusing on something else.
Otherwise, I get caught up in the obsession that the razor really isn’t on the shelf; it’s lying in a place where the cats can get to it and possibly get cut. I get caught up in the compulsion of staring at the razor, moving it around on the shelf.
I get caught up in the OCD and try to use logic to get out of it.
After I was through with the washer, there I was, pushing on the valves, trying to convince myself in my mind and in my feelings that they were in the off position.
I was waiting to feel no anxiety about it.
But I have to stop doing that if I want to get better. I have to walk away from situations like the razor and the valves while I still feel anxiety about them, when the OCD is still raising doubts.
I have to allow the anxiety to lessen away from the site or situation of the obsessions and compulsions.
There doesn’t seem to be an easy way to do this. I have to work at it. I have to keep on facing situations that I know bring out the obsessions and compulsions. I have to keep on trying to stop the compulsion even though I still feel anxiety and move on to something else.
I have to put up with not being perfect at it.
And I have to do it over and over and over until it becomes easier, second nature, until the lesson is not just learned but ingrained.
No, it’s not easy. But I have to believe the work is worth it in the end.
Have you ever had lessons that you’ve had to learn over and over until they sunk in? What helped you through the process?