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People who don’t have obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) are less likely to search for proof or seek reassurance about their desired vocation. It’s because they don’t have obsessions that involve irrational doubts about their chosen occupation. Nor do they have compulsions that urge them to seek out certainty where there is none. Therefore, they don’t purposely bring to mind a problem concerning their goals unless they want to resolve a legitimate issue on a rational level.

Intrinsically, people who don’t struggle with OCD believe in their end-goal and think, realistically, that they can reach it. They have no confusion about their decisions. As a consequence, they make their choices and feel satisfied. Then, they get on with their day and effectively manage any problems that may arise afterwards.

However, people who do have OCD are more likely to search for proof

Not only do they search for proof, but they also inwardly seek reassurance about their career choice. They intentionally bring up negative ideas that make them feel inadequate about reaching their objectives. In OCD terms, it’s a compulsion known as ruminating or mental checking.

Individuals who wrestle with obsessions and compulsions worry about whether they can or cannot trust their judgement. They find it hard to believe what their rational mind perceives about self. It spoils their observations for heading towards more influential opportunities or feeling settled with their original plan. Their what-if scenarios keep them in a near-constant state of indecision.

If the OCD example resonates with you and you want to be less bothered by unhelpful thoughts, here’s what to do?

The first thing is that you must identify when you fall into the MENTAL CHECKING trap. This is a positive must. Recall that mental checking is purposely bringing up a negative thought in which to ruminate. The second positive must is that you have to mark the time when you are chewing on what-if scenarios and then stop.

Next, step back and ask yourself, “How does ruminating help me? Will it support my plans, or will it create panic situations that lead to more what-ifs and doubts about my real desires.” And, “Will it interfere with my inherent strengths to get to where I want to be?”

Afterwards, gather the courage to rely on your reality principle. That means you have to sacrifice short-term relief. That is, relief from heightened anxiety after mulling things over. So, instead of heading somewhere quiet to ruminate alone, you can remain where you are and calmly allow all thoughts to come and go without attaching negative meaning to them. And instead of doing other compulsions like checking for proof or seeking reassurance for a quick anxiety drop, practice holding back, and in doing so, let yourself lean into the anxiety until it reduces naturally.

You might not think it now, but resisting compulsions gives you longer-term gain, not just brief respite. Let’s be frank about it, can you really benefit from OCD’s influence and attain your objective by yielding to rituals that only serve to reinforce your career fears?

Wait! There’s more you can do

You can remind yourself that OCD is similar to a bullying peer who secretly threatens to thwart your success so s/he can be more successful than you are. You can note such behaviour as small-mindedness. It helps you recognise that success is not about matching the strengths of others out of fear of failure or thinking you’ve chosen the wrong path. It’s about being the best you can be on your own merits with a brilliant career choice.

When you choose to let the compulsions go, you build a tolerance for anxiety, which weakens the bully. People and resources can help you, but it’s only you that can lessen OCD’s hold on you.

So, next time you have a what-if question about your career choice, ask yourself, “Do I follow OCD’s influence for short-term gain? Or do I trust my rational sense, direct my path, and seize an opportunity to do the job I’m trained to do!”