How to Deal with Thoughts with Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorders

January 20, 2022

The term OCD is often thrown around when discussing clean, organized, people, but obsessive-compulsive disorder is actually one of the conditions known as personality disorders. There are various types of personality disorders, but OCD causes symptoms of obsession and compulsion. 

Obsessions are undesirable thoughts, sensations, and ideas. These obsessions drive a person toward compulsions that are repeated behaviors that can interfere with normal functioning and wellbeing. Compulsions vary from mild to severe and the act itself can be very different from one person to the next. 

When the obsessions are severe or frequent enough to interrupt normal life and functioning, then they need to be addressed. Also, when the compulsions are not performed or completed, it can cause distress and anxiety. 

OCD thoughts often coincide with intrusive thoughts that can cause compulsions, anxiety, and other issues. It can be difficult to control those thoughts and when they appear in your mind, but the way that you react can be controlled. To do so, coping methods that allow you to deal with those thoughts in a healthy way can go a long way toward a better quality of life and manage symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder. 

Where Do OCD Thoughts Come From?

OCD thoughts start with intrusive thoughts that are unwanted and unwarranted. These thoughts are not your fault, and it is normal to have intrusive thoughts. Everybody has thoughts that are intrusive and undesired and sometimes they can be distressing or disturbing. 

The issue is when those thoughts cause inappropriate behavior, difficulty functioning, and other problems. Sometimes these thoughts can also contribute to feelings of shame and guilt. 

Obsessive-compulsive thoughts and intrusive thoughts related to OCD are often more distressing than other intrusive thoughts and can last longer. In addition, these thoughts can sometimes feel real, and just thinking of them will cause something bad to happen. This is known as thought-action fusion and can make thoughts seem more problematic or realistic than they are. 

Intrusive thoughts become obsessive when someone sees them as completely true and as a factual statement about reality. In addition, these thoughts can sometimes feel like they correlate with an unbending rule that must be followed or associated with a threat. 

Don’t Try to Stop OCD Thoughts

The first step toward getting rid of OCD thoughts is to avoid attempts to suppress those thoughts. Thoughts patterns related to obsessions and compulsions can rapidly go out of control into a never-ending train of thought. This makes it harder and harder to focus on anything else. 

When you try to stop the thoughts, then you have to think about them and may become entrenched in trying to track down the thoughts in order to cease them completely. Of course, not pushing those thoughts down is much easier said than done. Research shows, though, that attempts to stop OCD thoughts lead to more intrusive thoughts, so learning to avoid suppression can be a good first step toward controlling, managing, or eliminating those obsessions or at least reacting to them positively or healthily. 

Examine Thoughts

Instead of reacting to OCD thoughts in an attempt to stop or suppress them, try to be aware of the thoughts and recognize the nature of the thought process and how it is trying to control your behavior. 

To do this, it is important that you do not immediately react and instead pause and try to look at the thought objectively. This takes time and practice, but if you can put some distance and time between the thought and the reaction, then you can delay that reaction enough to observe it. 

Also, try to remember that your thoughts are not you and that they do not define you. Sometimes thoughts can be disconnected from your identity and having a bad or distressing thought does not make you a bad person. Intrusive thoughts may not coincide with your ideals and ethics and may conflict with or challenge the things that you believe. 

How to Cope

OCD thoughts can cause fear, guilt, shame, and anxiety. Accepting the fact that everyone experiences intrusive thoughts that are out of their control can be a good step toward accepting them without reactionary actions and behaviors that can be problematic. 

Having a support system can be beneficial as well and it can also help to take care of yourself and learn how to lower stress levels and cope with negative emotions. You may also find that mindfulness mediation and relaxation techniques like deep breathing also help by allowing you to calm your mind and body.

This can teach you how to examine thoughts without negative reactions and look at the situation more logically and objectively. 

It can take a lot of time to learn to cope but breaking it up into small goals can be helpful. For example, you may want to resist acting on an obsession with compulsive behavior for a certain amount of time or during a certain activity.

Continuing to do this will train you to get better at it over time and learn to cope with the negative and distressing thoughts that come with those thoughts and behaviors. 

Some people find keeping a journal of their obsessive thoughts and compulsions to be helpful as well. This can give you a different perspective on intrusive thoughts and the way that you react to them. It may also allow you to develop a plan to deal with those thoughts the next time they enter your mind. 

There are also treatment options that can be highly effective. In some cases, medication can be used to manage distressing symptoms or to help relieve feelings that make it hard to function. Therapy can also be used to manage obsessive thoughts and the way that you react to them.

Exposure therapy is a common method used in cognitive behavioral therapy for people suffering from an obsessive-compulsive personality disorder because it helps you learn how to react to obsessive and intrusive thoughts and the triggers that cause them. 


Obsessive-compulsive disorder can make a lot of things challenging and it can be good to develop coping methods and learn how to avoid suppression of the thoughts because it can just add fuel to the fire. Instead, taking a step back, avoiding immediate reaction, and identifying and inspecting the thoughts can help you gain control over them and the actions that they bring with them. 

About the author
Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health- related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with

With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.

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