OCD sufferers tend to concentrate on the intrusive thoughts (obsessions) that pop up into their heads. They think those thoughts/images are the problem. Obsessions can be awful but they aren’t what drives OCD.

Compulsions are the core of the problem. The mainstay of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is to reduce and eliminate compulsions.  Compulsions are the way that sufferers respond to the thoughts. When they respond, they feed the OCD and reinforce the belief in their minds that something is wrong. It sets things up for more obsessions in the future that will bother them even more.

The best response to obsessions is no response at all. None. No freaking out. No washing hands, tapping, checking, testing, etc. And no ruminating. No response means not feeding the disorder. It means letting the thoughts, the thoughts that bother, to die from apathy.

But does that mean going cold turkey? Well, no. Although stopping, full stop, is the preferred way, sufferers can go a long way by having a standby thought to think when obsessions strike that replaces the usual compulsions done. It has to be short and sweet.

A perfect substitute for the usual compulsions is a term used by teenagers everywhere (that tends to drive parents crazy): Eh, whatever. Not whatever! Not WHAT-evah! But whatever. No exclamation point afterward.

An obsession strikes. The sufferer recognizes the thought/image/urge as an obsession. Immediately, the sufferer thinks, Eh, whatever. Then the sufferer simply continues on with what they were doing before the obsession struck. It’s profoundly simple and it works, given enough practice.

Eventually, eh, whatever needs to go away in favor of absolutely no response at all. There’s a quick recognition of an obsession and a continuation with the day without any pause, thought or action in between.

Try it out. Eh, whatever could help you gain control over your OCD.