Is OCD Holding You Back?
For some people, OCD might actually offer a few advantages. Perhaps you feel special or smart because you're aware of possible dangers when it seems as if others are not. You might feel just a little bit smug when you learn about disasters that you practically predicted. Or you may believe that your fear serves an important purpose: most likely, keeping you or others safe from the many genuine dangers in the world.
What should you do about this? Just be aware of it. Ask yourself from time to time whether you might be holding onto fears and obsessive behaviors at least in part because you think they benefit you in some way, however small. If you think about it rationally (as distinct from
Can OCD Actually Be Helpful?
Yes. Chances are, you see the world a little differently from most other people. You may hone in on fine points that others would pass over. This kind of preoccupation with detail made
Or you might be slavishly devoted to your art, refusing to settle for anything that isn't pure magic. Perfectionism has served many artistic talents very well. The worlds of theater, music, and art are that much richer because of it. Perhaps you see potential danger where others walk blithely, hands in their pockets, carelessly whistling tunes. You might become a consumer safety advocate and indirectly save many thousands of lives. Or your OCD may serve you in other ways.
If you're a spiritual person, you may believe that you have OCD for a reason. If you're not, you may simply think
Good for Nothing?
Most of the people whose names we remember from one generation to the next are those who saw things and did things just a little bit differently from “everybody else.” Louisa Alcott's family thought it was right and proper for women to follow whatever pursuits they chose. This was very much out of step with their times. Many famous women, such as Dr. Margaret Sanger, Susan B. Anthony, and Gloria Steinem, among countless others, refused to do what was expected of them and went on to live illustrious lives and to benefit others.
Nor was Louis Carroll content to write only about mathematics, nor Michelangelo or Monet willing to listen to their fathers' career advice. (Michelangelo took a beating for his decision to pursue art. No child of Lodovico Buonarotti was going to have to work with his hands!)
Although not “blessed” with OCD, animal scientist Temple Grandin, who has autism, has written many important books having to do with autism and animals, proving that there's no need for all of us to be the same. She says her autism fosters her insights into animals' experience, allowing her to create innovations in animal care.
The message is not that OCD is something to be treasured. Far from it. You still need to battle it like you would any illness. However, being a little different from the rest isn't always such a bad deal. It may hold one or two advantages. And in any case, it's who you are.