It is not uncommon to hear people say: oh I am a bit OCD, as if it is a joke. Sometimes it is said as a badge of honour. OCD is neither. Understanding it can be very helpful in the pursuit of excellence and success. OCD is a seriously debilitating condition which should not be trivialised by those who do not understand it.
We all have idiosyncrasies: For some of us we find it very difficult to work unless the desk is tidy and things are arranged in a particular order. For others it is not wanting to use a public toilet or touch anything other people have touched. Some of us are just very sensitive in general. Sports people can regularly be observed going through rituals before a game or during play. This helps to clear the mind and helps them to focus on what they trained and practiced to do.
Much of what we do each day is governed by rituals. These rituals are habits we have learned consciously or unconsciously over a period of time. They are stored in the subconscious mind.
Activities such as waking up in the morning, washing, dressing, driving to work and most of what we do during the day are carried out without conscious thought. There is a repertoire of programmes to manage all of these tasks, which have been learnt by repetition, while consciousness is planning the day ahead.
Every now and then we have a little self-doubt: did I turn off the oven or lock the front door or did I drive away before the traffic lights went green. These are all acts which we normally do without thinking. When we doubt any of these tasks, it can be very worrying and cause great anxiety throughout the day until we have checked it properly.
OCD happens when there is a breakdown in trust in a whole area of subconscious programming. It is not just a hand-washing condition. It can affect any faculty of the subconscious. What it means is that any act cannot be trusted to the subconscious programme. It must be done with full conscious awareness. If one is distracted for a split second then the act has to be repeated. The anxiety is massive and exhausting. Since the conscious mind can only carry out one act at a time it is doubly debilitating.
A virtuoso musician will perform a piece of music from the subconscious. It will have been rehearsed and analysed until is embedded as an emotion. The performance will be brilliant to the extent that there is no conscious interference in the flow from subconscious to the keys of the piano. Likewise for the athlete. We hear of athletes, for example, golfers being “in the zone” when they experience excellence. Their rituals prepare them for the flow of perfection.
OCD is at the opposite end of the spectrum where there can be no flow. Everything must be done through consciousness. However there is a benefit at the end, recovery from OCD means establishing new subconscious programmes which are perfected and can be trusted. Recovery is slow but the sufferer emerges capable of great things. The conscious mind is once again free knowing that what is done subconsciously is thoroughly done. In the pursuit of success we must strive to be the very best version of ourselves possible. We employ specialists because they have perfected a skill. They have studied and refined, and continued to refine their knowledge and skill in pursuit of excellence. None of us would chose the least skilled surgeon. We want the best. Someone we can trust implicitly.
We should require the same of ourselves. Once we know our area of excellence and wish to make it our niche in life and to be very successful we must perfect the skill. Being great at anything requires that it will flow from the subconscious in a way that we know is the very best we can do or the very best that can be done. People who never learn properly to be a good driver can never be good or safe. Driving is a combination of subconscious programmes. It is done while we think of many other things. The only way it will improve will be by retraining. So it is with every aspect of life. We can learn from “being a little bit OCD”. Understanding this message is a big step towards success. It would be good to be a little OCD about all of life if that means wanting things to be done properly. Another word for subconscious programming is, mindset. It literally means having a set of programmes in the subconscious mind which will manages our day. If you have the mindset for success and perfect it, it will flow through everything you do.