Much of what drives people with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a fear of uncertainty. People with OCD may engage in frequent and/or time consuming rituals in order to ward off a feared outcome, no matter how remote the chance.
As the writer of the recent article in SLAM Magazine puts it:
the crux of OCD is fearing a specific outcome (obsession) and doing whatever you possibly can to avoid or prevent that outcome (compulsion) to the point where your actions are entirely irrational, are accomplishing absolutely nothing, and are disrupting—if not outright debilitating—your daily functioning.
The article is written by a man who completed 9 weeks of intensive treatment for OCD in a residential setting. A basketball fan, the writer had an “ah ha!” moment when he read an interview in which Cleveland Cavaliers basketball player LeBron identified his greatest obstacle for success: fear of failure.
What the writer learns from James is to accept “It’s possible.” By “It’s possible,” the writer means that it is possible that things will not turn out the way you hope.
Maybe you will contract a disease from that toilet seat. Maybe your friends are talking about you. Maybe you did just start a fire. It’s possible. Who knows, really?’ Sitting with that doubt is the key to everything.
What the author so eloquently underscores is that attempts to reassures one’s self that everything will be okay only feeds OCD. That is the foundation for Exposure and Response Presentation (ERP), the most effective treatment for OCD: people learn to sit with uncomfortable scenarios without engaging in rituals aimed at trying to change or neutralize them.
Only through accepting that circumstances may turn out badly can one become free. This is a truth that is very core to OCD, but it is also something with which everyone struggles—including elite athletes such as LeBron James.
I recommend you check out the article if you or a loved one struggles with anxiety or OCD—or even if you’re just a sports fan.
You can read the article here.