Organisation vs OCD


We all need to be organised. We need to know where things are. We also know that what is inside is outside so that the state of our desk describes the state of our mind. But, to tell what is really going inside someone else’s head you need to understand them and to understand what it is that you are looking at. In that sense organisation is in the eye of the beholder. It makes sense to be organised. It does not make sense when the need for things to be tidy and organised becomes an obsession so that the person is unable to relax or stop. Organisation and obsession are different but they might appear to be similar.

To be organised is defined by the business dictionary as…

‘ …taking something that is messy, chaotic, or unordered and rearranging it logically, into a structured or coherent layout, or into specific and/or defined groups…’ 

We know that getting organised and de-cluttering can help us sort out our emotions and generally calm our mind. For myself the act of sorting out a cupboard or a drawer can be emotionally rewarding. The work of Maria Kondo, in showing people how to be organised and tidy, can reduce levels of anxiety allowing people to feel more emotionally and internally organised and at peace. However there is a point when positive need to be organised can become obsessive

Obsessions are thoughts, images, urges, worries or doubts that repeatedly appear in our mind so that we are then unable to stop or relax. Obsessions can lead to anxiety, worry and concern.  This may affect our ability to sleep, eat or interact with others. When obsession is repeated over time it can create compulsion. A compulsion is defined as need to  repeat an activity to reduce the level of anxiety that had been caused by the obsession. So that when we cannot relax because are having obsessive thoughts about something we experience the compulsion to act and do something about it.

While most obsessive behaviours are the result of stress or disorders thinking they can usually be solved through psychotherapeutic interventions such as mindfulness and talking therapies. In the extreme the obsessions and compulsions can move into psychiatry when they are considered a personality disorder. To be organised and to be tidy is normal behaviour. To develop obsessive compulsions and anxieties is abnormal.

Normal obsessive compulsive disorder can be moderated through regular mindfulness practice and developed self awareness.

Take care and be happy

Sean x

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