Regardless of the specific symptom(s) you may be struggling with, OCD always comes down to tolerating uncertainty. Certainty drives the urge to engage in all compulsions…certainty that your hands are perfectly clean, certainty that you did not hit someone with your car, certainty that you unplugged the iron or locked your door, certainty that you performed a ritual just right so nothing bad will happen, certainty that you are not a pedophile or a serial killer, etc.

The problem with chasing certainty, is it is a losing battle. You become like a dog chasing its tail, around and around and around. It never ends because the reality is that we can never have 100% certainty about anything, that’s right…anything. Imagine this… We could all be living in a matrix where nothing is real or true. It’s possible, right? Anything is possible. However, lots of things are not probable or likely. We may not have 100% certainty, but we generally have enough certainty to move on with reasonable assuredness.

Now, of course, the next questions is…How do I know when I have enough certainty? Well, here is my OCD Golden Rule…If you don’t know, let it go!!! I think this is a reasonable rule to follow with OCD symptoms because if anything happens that is concerning enough to warrant a response, you would know it and would not question what to do. For example, if you stepped barefoot in dog poop, you certainly wouldn’t question if you should uk best wash your foot off or not. Similarly, if you truly hit someone with your car, you wouldn’t contemplate whether or not you should take action.

Questioning what you need to do is a sure sign you should do nothing and move on. In areas where you are already so hypervigilant, it is highly unlikely you would miss something uber important (possibly life threatening). It is, in fact, because you are so hypervigilant that situations that present even the tiniest, most miniscule, and irrationally feared amount of risk seem impossible to ignore. However, the reason that it is so important to ignore them and move on is because the more you respond and give them attention, the more credibility and power you give them. This will result in endless compulsions to satisfy the need for certainty which we know is unattainable. It will also lead to more and more situations irrationally triggering your anxiety. These worries can become so irrational that the mere site of an ambulance from your car with your windows rolled up can trigger the need to wash, change your clothes essays services, or shower as soon as you get home. The subtlest of sounds or a shadow can trigger the need to stop your car and go back and check to make sure you did not hit anyone. Somebody merely patting your head can conjure worries about having a brain injury. Any shred of doubt, regardless of how irrational it might be, will demand some sort of compulsive response.

This is the unfortunate evolution of OCD. The more you give it. The more it takes…ultimately, from your life. Compulsive attempts to minimize risks actually end up creating all kinds of new ones, the most important being loss of freedom and the ability to enjoy your life. However, true freedom and enjoyment only comes with the ability to accept and tolerate a level of uncertainty and potential risk. There is no other way around it. However, the good news is that every time you fight the urge to respond compulsively to a worry and instead lean into what feels like risk, the closer you inch toward freedom and joy. Does this mean nothing bad will ever happen? Unfortunately, no, but I believe truly living your life, albeit with a degree of risk, is well worth it. So, the next time you don’t know…try, try, try to let it go.