|from Flickr via Slideshow Bruce|
This series looks at a small snippet of The book on the Perfectionist Personality, aka The Obsessive Compulsive disordered Personality, aka OCPD, each week. Please follow along, leave your comments, engage more on the FaceBook website... whatever your heart calls you to do.
Too Perfect, When Being in Control Gets Out of Control by Allan E. Mallinger, M.D. and Jeanette DeWyze was published by Random House in 1992. If you believe you are dealing with OCPD or someone who is "Too Perfect," whether that's you or a loved one, please buy a copy of the book and read it for additional insights that will not all be covered in these excerpts.
The Thinkaholic: Worry, Rumination and Doubt
Imagine yourself pedaling down a bike lane that runs beside a country highway. The morning sunlight warms the earth, and colorful flowers scent the air. But even in this rustic locale, traffic streams by. At times farm vehicles lumber beside you, filling your head with their noise. Faster-moving cars whiz by, and you can hear their whining engines far into the distances. Only for a few brief moments do you have the road to yourself, and only then can you savor the breeze, or hear the birds sing, or revel in the power of your hardworking muscles.
For many obsessives, life is a little like that journey down the country road. A steady stream of worries and painful thoughts distracts them from life's joys. In a sense, they think too much: it's nearly impossible for them to turn off the flow of concentrated observation, analysis, and reflection. "My mind is a regular worry machine," one woman said. "Sometimes I'll churn through every conceivable aspect of a problem, then I'll tell myself, 'That's enough,' and will try to shift to something more pleasant. A few minutes later my thoughts have crept right back to my worries. It's as if worrying is as automatic as breathing, something my mind keeps doing, no matter what."
Worry and rumination have few redeeming qualities. Once something bad has happened, Ruminating over it only prolongs your pain. And worrying is at least as pernicious. If the object of your worry doesn't come to pass, you've suffered needlessly. And when misfortunes do occur, they will be just as irritating or devastating as they would have been even if you'd spent more time enjoying yourself and less time worrying. Worries trade chronic misery for the pallid hope of being a little less devastated.
I have a friend, who I've suspected of being a little OCPD (and another friend, who I also suspect of having OCPD, who argues that I am now seeing OCPD behind every bush. She may be right.)
Anyway, Friend A once confided in me that whenever things were going really great, whenever he was in the middle of a terrific love affair or party or even a movie, he would become quite sad, because he would begin thinking about how it couldn't last. He would start obsessing about how it would end, how things would go wrong... He couldn't let himself be in the moment and enjoy what was happening right then.
I found this terribly sad; still do. There's a saying, "Don't borrow trouble, the interest rate's too high." Or the Bible, Matthew 6:34: Do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day's own trouble be sufficient for the day.
We're human, we do worry. We do sometimes look behind us and play the game of what-if - as if, had we done something different, the outcome would have been better (could've been worse, too, we have no way of knowing).
But it's like being on that country road, after the farm vehicles and the cars have gone by, and instead of noticing and appreciating the flowers and birds and fresh air, we're stuck churning over what it looked and felt like when the cars were crowding us.
Trouble will come - and it will go, and it will come again. We don't have to live in "trouble-mode" all the time. That's a choice.
Me, I'd rather smell the roses.