Obsessions & Compulsions

It’s pretty normal to have unhelpful thoughts about our feelings and the world around us, but sometimes they can become difficult to control. To cope with these thoughts, we sometimes find ourselves doing things we otherwise wouldn’t to feel better. The trouble is this can take up a lot of time and cause a lot of stress.


What are obsessions?

Obsessions are unwanted thoughts that will repeat themselves without you having any control over them. Some people might worry about things like being around dirt and germs; others might be convinced that a person they know is going to be in an accident. The obsessions can be about a range of different things, but whatever they are about the thoughts are really difficult to get rid of and are often upsetting for the person experiencing them.

What are compulsions?

A compulsion is when you have a very strong feeling that you must do something. Just as obsessions come in all different forms, compulsions can be just as varied. Some people might need to repeatedly touch an object or arrange things in a certain way. Other people might wash their hands over and over again or need to check that a light switch is turned off a certain number of times before they feel ok.

We all have times where we play something over and over in our minds when it is worrying us. Hands up if you’ve ever double-checked, or even tripled-checked if you’ve got your keys with you before leaving the house? We nearly all have habits that we do each day that help us to feel things are running smoothly.

You may have heard of the term OCD: this is when these thoughts and actions really start to get in the way of you living your life.

How do I stop them?

Some people find it really hard to talk about their obsessions and compulsions because they worry that people will think that they’re strange, but OCD is actually more common than people realise, and talking about it with someone you trust can help you to feel less alone and ashamed.

In time you might want to talk with someone who can help you challenge the obsessions and compulsions you have so that they have less control over you.

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