Thank goodness this is not a current photograph.

I’m not so much a snow person, but I do like how ghostly and calm everything looks with a blanket of snow on it. But actually living in snow? Not so much.

Anyway, this week. We’ve had quite a bit of rain but also some much appreciated sunshine, even where one afternoon for about an hour it felt like Spring was coming or at least not so very far away. And then it started raining again, and that’s about where we are now. 

Ups and Downs

I’ve had some significantly difficult days and hours related to my OCD over the last week, but I’ve also had good days or times when I’ve worked through the discomfort of avoiding compulsions that I hope might remove the anxiety. I’m not sure if the failures and successes even out in a wash, but let’s just say that I could’ve done better and could’ve done worse.

We had over two dozen people in our house, I believe, on Sunday, and I cooked food for them, so there’s a win. I changed my outfit one day due to contamination fears, so there’s a loss. One day I wanted to change some of my clothes but didn’t—and even went out to dinner and dessert in those clothes, so there’s a win. Etc. etc.

Quantitative Goals

I’m still trying to count my hand washes, with a few fudges here and there. Doing this is annoying but so helpful. Even when I know that I’m out of control and washing far more than I ought for a period of time, I still attempt to keep track and then try to make up for it over the course of the rest of the day. When I have a quantitative goal or objective, it can be a lot more motivating in many ways than just “try not to wash my hands as much.”

Reading Therapy

I’m also re-reading “Stopping the Noise In Your Head” by Reid Wilson, which is basically like going to a therapy session. It’s really helpful to take that time and distance myself from my own personal OCD and read about the overarching “goals” of anxiety and OCD. It helps me see that the problem is something different than I imagine, day to day. I see my own personal obsessions and compulsions and am so focused on those, but really I have to step back and fight the generalities—the OCD as a whole.

Even if I stopped worrying about bathroom contamination or possible illnesses, the OCD would just latch on to something else—copyright issues again, driving, etc. It doesn’t so much care what I obsess about as that I’m wasting my time and energy worrying about something. And I suppose that’s why doing compulsions to relieve a specific obsession doesn’t solve any problems in the long term. It’s trying to solve the wrong problem.

Don’t waste your time

When we lived up on an island in the Puget Sound, there was a talk in church about that idea—how we sometimes spend so long and so much effort in solving the wrong problem. So often we quickly latch on to a problem and then spend far too much time trying to solve it, when really it would be better to spend the balance of time finding the right problem and then work on solving it quickly.

Put simply, first, pinpoint the correct problem. Then, solve it.

OCD is a master of distracting us with false problems and forcing us to waste our time. Don’t be fooled. It’s so difficult, of course, to extricate ourselves from the problems we cling to, convinced that we have to solve them, so that we can actually focus on the problem that really matters. But doing exactly that is when we can finally make progress.

So I challenge you and me to the same thing: find and solve the right problems. Stop wasting time. Make the differences that will actually stick.

How has your week been going?