“Are you sure you want to do this?”
As soon as he asked the question, I started doubting the decision that I thought I was satisfied with.
That’s all it took: a question, and I became uncertain about something I had been sure about for days.
I was faced with a decision recently that, depending on the route I took, could result in important changes in my life.
I came up with the idea for the change in the first place and pursued it, at first hesitantly, and then with more desire and confidence.
Then the doubt came.
I’ll write specifically about that decision in a post soon, but today, I’m focusing on the decision-making process and how obsessive-compulsive disorder can affect it.
Having OCD means having a lot of uncertainty about things that others don’t even think about. Those of us with OCD wonder about things like whether or not the stove is turned off, whether or not we hit someone with our car, whether or not we read a page in a book thoroughly, whether or not our hands are clean, whether or not we harmed someone.
The uncertainty about these things—the obsessions that trap us into thinking about these things—can lead to the compulsions that we do to try to alleviate the extreme anxiety we feel.
I have found that the same uncertainty that surrounds the obsessions and compulsions also filters into my decision-making process.
It isn’t always easy for me to make a decision, even about something as innocuous as what restaurant to eat in or whether or not to make a phone call.
I obsess over whether or not I’m making the right choice. I’m afraid of making a wrong choice. I’m afraid of hurting someone or otherwise adversely affecting someone with my decision. I’m afraid of ruining my life with one bad decision.
So I quite often practice avoidance. I leave decisions to others, or delay decisions until they’re made for me.
I also compulsively ask for reassurance from others. I want someone to say, “Tina, you are making the right decision. I have no doubt about it.”
What I’m really looking for is for someone else to take responsibility for the decision. And that’s not fair to others. Others deal with uncertainty—why shouldn’t I?
So after the setback by doubt, I did more research, asked more questions, thought more about the decision. And when I felt a great sense of devastation when it seemed things weren’t going to work out, I sensed that I may have been on the right path to begin with.
I had to let go of my fear of making a decision.
None of us can ever be 100 percent sure all the time that we’re making the right decisions. Uncertainty is a fact of life. Those of us with OCD may have more doubt than those who don’t, but we can still be responsible enough to make decisions. We just may have to try harder.
What goes into your decision-making process? What do you do when faced with a tough decision?