Obsessions conquering our mind

There are thoughts that don’t want to leave us alone and take us away from experiencing the present moment: they are existential doubts, or doubts about our behaviour and decisions, or mental images on past and future events. These thoughts trigger some ambivalent feelings: we try to avoid them and we feel the need to ruminate on them. They are obsessive thoughts: a form of anxiety that represents the need to control the events.

Every so often, obsessive thinking is coupled with controlling actions such as: repetitions (e.g. checking several times that the door or the car it’s been locked); perfectionism (e.g. reading a mail over and over before sending it checking for any possible mistake); superstitions (e.g. setting the radio volume on some particular digits or repeating some mental actions). These are compulsive behaviours and like obsessive thoughts, they also trigger ambivalent feelings: we would like to stop them but we can’t. Likewise, they represent a need to control events and avoid any possible negative consequences of our actions.

If both obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviour are present, it’s possible we are talking about an obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), which is often linked to an inner difficulty into accepting one’s own mistakes, imperfections and negative feelings.

Obsessions and compulsions are symptoms of anxiety, and so they should be treated. Nevertheless, anxiety showing with somatic symptoms is more easily accepted in our society and people suffering from thought and behavioural symptoms are often embarrassed. Therefore, should you manifest some recursive thoughts, should you feel the need to ruminate, or should you realize that you are being over-cautious or that you are a perfectionist in your job, this does not mean that you are crazy! Rather, it means that something in your life is making you feel more vulnerable and stressed than you think and with the help of a therapist you can identify the reason behind these symptoms, and so, feel in control again.

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