Do Compulsions Really Save Lives?

It’s not easy to resist compulsions when you think they save lives.

But wait a minute…are you on a mission to save lives? Wow, that’s extraordinary! What a stunning and exceptional way to live. 

That’s not how you feel though is it? Saving lives with compulsions is a heavy burden. It’s like having a young version of you on one shoulder and an adult version on the other. And, they just argue back and forth all day long about what’s real and what isn’t.

There’s a part of you that knows the compulsions…all the mental acts, repetitive movements, counting, sanitizing, checking, can’t really control whether someone lives or dies. But, then there’s this other part of you that just isn’t sure. 

The voice of OCD can be so convincing even in the presence of absurdity. “That toothpick on the sidewalk could cause someone to die of a prolonged muscle spasm.” It’s ridiculous but your anxiety is so high that you go back and pick up the toothpick.

What can you do to resist compulsions when you think they save lives?

  • Confront the absurdity with even more absurdity 
  • Admit you’re not qualified to save lives
  • Stick to your own set of rules, not OCD’s
  • Ask people if they want to be saved by you

Absurdity Meets Absurdity

It’s hard for you to be willing to see what happens if you resist compulsions. Part of you says nothing would happen. You’re definitely not 100% sure that compulsions save lives.

Resist Compulsions
This is something OCD would want!

Let’s challenge the thought that compulsions prevent bad things from happening with sarcasm. If there’s one thing that silences OCD, it’s humor or sarcasm. It’s a fantastic way to outwit OCD.

So with tongue-in-cheek and a bit of mockery, let’s throw OCD off its game with sarcasm and a few paradigm shifts.

Example of a paradigm shift: 

“I don’t touch pictures of poison because I will get contaminated and spread it to other people.”

“Wow! that’s impressive. Then all we have to do is send pictures of poison to members of Isis to end terrorism.”

Sarcasm is a great way to take charge of OCD. So here comes a lot of sarcasm and I hope no one gets offended except, of course, OCD!

Question Your Authority to Save Lives

“My Compulsions Save Lives”
Resist compulsions
What Makes You An Authority?

Paradigm shift: Wonderful! I’d like to save lives too! How can I sign-up? Where did you get your training? How did you get licensed or certified to save lives with compulsions?

Do You Have a License to Save Lives?

People in the business of saving lives have credentials to do so. Take for example the credentials of a lifeguard:

  • Must meet an age requirement
  • Approximately 35 hours of lifeguard training must be completed to learn water rescue techniques. In addition, the student must learn how to surveil a body of water and how to evaluate each swimmer’s aquatic abilities. The student is also taught when s/he is not required to enter unsafe waters.
  • Obtain professional rescuer First Aid Certification
  • Swim 300 yards, tread for 2 minutes and dive 7-10 feet to retrieve a brick
  • Perform all skills with 100% accuracy
  • Pass a written test proving you understand and can implement appropriate responses

What are the requirements someone like you must meet in order to save lives? Is there any proof that you know what you’re doing?

This list isn’t exhaustive or in any particular order, but just look at all the people who save lives:
  • military personnel
  • law enforcement
  • firefighters
  • microbiology scientists who thwart unstoppable microbes
  • scientists who monitor vaults that hold the seeds of all plants we need in case of a global catastrophe
  • asteroid trackers who keep an eye on possible collisions
  • seismologist and volcanologist who predict earthquakes and tsunamis
  • faith leaders who mediate conflict and feed the hungry
  • disaster preparedness specialists
  • hospital quality assurance officers and inspectors
  • correctional officers
  • criminal investigators
  • security guards 
  • park rangers
  • nurses and certified nursing assistants
  • public health department specialists and centers for disease control personnel
  • doctors and therapists
  • EMT and paramedics
  • ambulance dispatchers and 911 operators
  • ambulance drivers/attendants
  • hazmat removal, waste management, and nuclear energy engineers

Paradigm Shift: If compulsions save lives, why isn’t the job of “Compulsive Behavior Specialist II” included in the above list? Why can’t we find your job in the want ads? Shouldn’t colleges offer Compulsive Behavior as a major?

Resist Compulsions
Who needs qualifications?

It looks as though all the people above who save lives have qualifications. What are yours? It’s just a feeling you have? “I’ve got a feeling” is not recognized anywhere as a credential. I think that’s called something like hocus-pocus. Would you let someone operate on your brain until it feels just right? If you were told to evacuate your city because somebody has a feeling there’s going to be an earthquake, would you leave?

Willy-Nilly Compulsions

Do you ever feel like you’re just shooting from the hip; making it up as you go along? I mean, there’s no consistency to what you’re doing to prevent harm. There are times you skip the compulsions that supposedly save lives. And, nothing happens!

You check locks and electrical cords but buy nonorganic food. Even if you do buy organic, because of the wind factor, do you make sure the organic strawberries are 50 miles away from the field that uses the pesticide Round-Up?

If you truly believe you are responsible for saving lives, then you’d never be able to sleep, go to work, school or just have fun. There’s just too much to do. You can never do enough to protect people from harm. No matter how hard you try, it will never be enough.

So OCD actually gives you a break and tells you that you only have to save certain lives. And, that you don’t have to save them from everything…just some things. How nice of OCD to be very selective about who and how to save people.

Anybody else who was so inconsistent would be called sketchy! OCD is evasive and lacks consistency for a reason–so it can hide the truth about compulsions.

What Are Your Guiding Principles?

Every single person who is in the professional business of saving lives is required to follow guidelines. If they don’t they’re reprimanded or fired.

What are your guiding principles? Do you have a manual of policies and procedures that you follow for your life-saving compulsions? Who was your mentor? I don’t know anybody that professionally who hasn’t been taught by someone else!

Hospitals are in the business of saving lives. They have rules and regulations to follow. Within the hospital is a Quality Control Unit that conducts audits and inspections to make sure policies and procedures are in place and being followed. 

In order to save lives, people follow a professional code of conduct. Look at all that is involved in saving lives:

  • rules and regulations set by lawmakers
  • professional standards and ethics
  • competency training and testing
  • periodic performance evaluations
  • re-attestations for professional licenses and/or certifications
  • continuing education credit requirements for professional development
  • physical and/or psychological exams results 
  • background checks and drug screenings
  • malpractice insurance companies
Resist compulsions
Willy-Nilly Hocus-Pocus!

Not only have you had no training you also have no code of professional conduct. Everything you do is willy-nilly. Your compulsions are not based on policies and procedures from best practice standards. You make them up as you go along based on how you feel in the moment. That’s OCD at work.

Paradigm Shift: Until you attend some kind of Academy for Compulsive Behaviors we can’t take you seriously. You have a lot of work to do before you’ll be considered qualified to save lives.

If you would like to become certified in saving lives with compulsions, you must first pass this quiz prior to enrolling in the Academy for Compulsive Behaviors:

Override OCD With Your Own Set of Rules

If you rely on OCD to tell you what to do about your anxiety, you’ll engage in compulsive behavior. It will be much easier to resist compulsions if you commit to following a set of rules that the adult-sized version believes in!

Let’s say a local college wants to start offering a major in Compulsive Behaviors. They recognize all your efforts to save lives with compulsions and ask you, the expert, to write policies and procedures, to teach students when it’s justified to use a compulsion.

As you write this policy and procedure consider the following: 

#1) If you see/hear/think/feel something that makes you want to prevent something bad from happening with a compulsion…ask, is it worthy of calling 911?

People tend to call 911 if an airway is obstructed, or a person can’t stand up or walk straight, is bleeding profusely or in severe pain. People don’t call 911 if they think they gave someone a germ.

Unless there’s a cry for help or it’s 911-worthy why would you intervene with a compulsion? 

What about the newspaper that could fly up on a car’s windshield. Shouldn’t I go back and get it? Is it 911-worthy? No. Then leave it, walk away and tolerate the anxiety.

Manuals Give Directions On How to Do Something. Where’s Your Manual?

#2) In a room full of 100 people, how many would be worrying like you? How many would use a compulsion to address this worry?

An action is considered “reasonable” (some people use the word “normal” but I don’t know what that is) when the majority of people in the same circumstance would behave in the same way. (If you can’t figure out what the majority would do then how about the most reasonable person you know–what would s/he do?)

Would the majority of waitresses check to see if it’s shards of glass or ice in people’s water? Do most customers walk through aisles in the grocery store scanning for expired food? Is it common for people to count to a certain number to prevent bad things from happening? If the answer is no…shrug and walk away.

Compulsions Aren’t Reasonable!

#3) If you believe your compulsive behaviors save lives, then why don’t you recommend them to other people? Whatever is applicable to you is applicable to others. If compulsions work for you then they should work for everybody else. 

I have to count when I go through doorways or something bad will happen. If my elbow touches a surface, I have to touch the same thing with my other elbow to prevent bad things. Okay, then everybody should do this.

Ever Wondered Why There Is No Manual On “How to Do a Compulsion?”

#4) If you take this action will you actually be increasing the risk of harm?

OCD is all about preventing something bad from happening right? HA! Nope. The problem with that assumption is that OCD knows nothing about life. OCD is about 2 or 3 years old so I hardly think there are years of experience to draw upon to know how to prevent bad things from happening. Usually, OCD is causing harm–not preventing it.

Excessive handwashing removes good bacteria, thereby lowering the immune system and increasing the risk of illness. Driving back to see if someone has been hit means more time on the road. More time on the road means a higher risk of an accident. Switching a light on and off to make sure it’s off only increases the wear and tear on the switch. 

Compulsions Increase Risk

#5) If you have the ability to save lives then you must use your compulsions to save more lives than you currently focus on. It doesn’t make sense that if you truly have this ability you should be selective about it. Why not save the world?

Resist compulsions
Capes are on sale this month!

From now on you must go to the pediatric intensive care unit at the local hospital and use your compulsions to save the lives of precious children. When you’re done there write an email to Dr. Oz and ask to be on his show so that you can share the good that you’re doing.

It’s not fair that you don’t go big with your compulsions. Offer televised healing meetings. People from all over the world will come to you for your healing compulsions.

Face It, You Can Never Do Enough to Protect People

#6) Are you following a chain of authority or stepping out of bounds?

  • Scanning the shelves at work I look for loose screws and then report them to maintenance. Maintenance doesn’t tighten them. I keep reporting them. I just don’t want anyone to get hurt.” It’s not your responsibility to do what you’re doing. Let the maintenance department do their job in the manner they see fit. 
  • “I noticed people in a food court were drinking iced tea known to have fluoride in it. A pre-typed leaflet warning of the dangers of fluoride is left by me at each table. I carry these leaflets everywhere I go.” It’s not up to you to educate the general population. People can educate themselves. 
  • To avoid getting my baby sick I pass by him when I get home and jump in the shower for an hour. I hug him only when I am clean. It’s the pediatrician’s job to tell you how to introduce the right amount of dirt and germs to build the immune system. A pediatrician will never tell you to NOT allow germs and dirt!
  • I purchased 50 smoke detectors to inspect the date they were manufactured. The smoke detectors are returned in perfect condition with a note I tucked inside each box: “Make sure you replace batteries using the date the detector was manufactured not purchased.” It’s up to the consumer to read the directions provided by the company.
  • Out of the blue, I thought of my 18-year-old son and suddenly felt he was in danger so I counted 1-2-3-4, 1-2-3-4, 1-2-3-4 until I felt he was safe. Your son is old enough to take care of himself. It’s not your job.

    Compulsions Don’t Save Lives They Rob You of Life

    Let this sink in: 

    You’ve gone rogue. You’re not credentialed or authorized to save lives with compulsions. You have no formal training on the use of compulsions. You’re self-taught. There are no policies or procedures that justify your actions. You’re overstepping your bounds. People don’t want you to save them!

Have You Asked If They Want To Be Saved?

Resist compulsions
People have a right to say no thank you!

If you asked your loved ones, they’d risk their lives than watch you be a slave to your compulsions.  They would never give you permission to perform compulsions in an effort to save them. 

Yet, you don’t listen to them. This is known as paternalism; it’s the practice of governing others. You preside over, be in charge of and make decisions for other people. When you’re being paternalistic people are deprived of the right to self-determination; the right to determine one’s own destiny.

And, I bet paternalism goes against your value system. You don’t really believe you should control other people’s lives and deprive them of making their own decisions. That’s not really who you are.

It’s your aversion to anxiety that makes you become paternalistic.

When you learn to experience anxiety and allow uncertainty to exist, there will no longer be any need for compulsions. Be willing to find out what happens from moment to moment. One moment at a time…

Your loved ones don’t want you to save them. They see what it costs you. Ask them if they want you engaging in all these safety behaviors. They’ll tell you no thanks. And it’s their right to make that decision.

You don’t have the credentials to save lives. You’ve had no training. Other people in the business of saving lives have taken competency tests; not you.

And…you also have not been given permission by your loved ones to perform compulsions on their behalf.

Let this sink in: 

You’ve gone rogue. You’re not credentialed or authorized to save lives with compulsions. You have no formal training on the use of compulsions. You’re self-taught. There are no policies or procedures that justify your actions. You’re overstepping your bounds. It’s time to transfer responsibility back where it belongs.

Today’s Best Advice On How to Resist Compulsions:

Use sarcasm and humor to outwit OCD. Meet absurdity with absurdity.

Resisting compulsions

Is it okay to use a distraction to resist compulsions?

Resisting compulsions
Questions? I can help!

If you have questions about how to resist compulsions be sure to add them to the comment section on this post. I’ll be sure to address your questions and give you…The Best Advice On How to Resist Compulsions

2 thoughts on “Do Compulsions Really Save Lives?”

  1. This one has had an enduring impact on me since reading it earlier this week. Like a new song that you hum around the house days after hearing it. Its good to hear in such terms that we are not Certified to be Worriers / Repairpeople on life’s uncertainties. Its helpful to hear it said the way you wrote it in your blog, to say the least!

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