Sometimes it helps to give your Harm OCD a name (Prudovski, n.d.). That is, think of your Harm OCD as a separate person. This has been recommended for children but it helps equally for adults. You probably already think of your Harm OCD as another person because it seems to wield power over you and make you do things you know you should not. You seem to operate on the orders of another person.
Hmm, so let’s look at it again. This person has power over you. This person makes you do things that you don’t want to do. If you don’t do its bidding, you feel anxious. What kind of a person would do that? A benevolent person who has your best interests in mind? Or a toxic person who is selfish and is thinking only of himself regardless of the emotional cost to you? I am sure you would agree that it is the latter. A toxic person who is definitely not a friend, but perhaps an irritant or a fear in your life. Do realize that Harm OCD is not your friend but someone you don’t want in your life.
So, think back on your life. Think of a person you dislike, fear, or have been traumatized by. You may have had a toxic boss or a friend who betrayed your trust and you couldn’t trust him anymore. Think about this toxic person and think of his name. You know that if he asked you to do anything, it would have a selfish motive. You know that any advice from him would definitely be wrong advice. You know that following whatever that person says to you is a recipe for doom. So, if the advice is coming from him, you would dismiss it even if the advice feels like the right thing to do. It may help to call your Harm OCD by that name. Knowing that that person is bad news for you in your life, believe that the person has not changed and will continue to hurt you at every possible opportunity. Therefore, everything said to you by your Harm OCD is to be looked at with the same mistrust and disbelief.
Let us say that in school you had a friend by the name of Jay who had betrayed your trust. Jay pretended to be your friend but called you names and laughed at you behind your back. When you found out and confronted him, you realized that he was never your friend, but was always in the other camp, so to speak. You stopped being friends with him and decided that you could never trust him again. Start by calling your Harm OCD Jay. Believe that whatever your Harm OCD says to you is coming from Jay, something that cannot be trusted. So, when there is an obsessive thought in your head, mindfully remind yourself that despite this seeming real, it is Jay who is doing this to you. Jay is advising you to believe that you are an evil person. Jay is advising you to believe that you want to harm others. Jay is advising you to check if you did run someone over. Jay just wants to keep doing things to make your life increasingly miserable.
This means that nothing that your Harm OCD says can be trusted. When you arrive at that conclusion, every time you have an urge to do a compulsion, if you recognize it mindfully, resist the urge. You may be able to resist the temptation to do your compulsions if you believe that Jay is urging you to do them and he does not have your best interests in mind. If you did not have Harm OCD and if Jay was the one who told you to stay away from knives, you wouldn’t do that. In the same way, if you get the urge to stay away from knives, resist it by recognizing that Jay is asking you to do it, so that your life keeps getting more dysfunctional by the day. Remember this name as this name will be important in your recovery process. If you do not have any specific person in mind for the purpose, you can give your Harm OCD the name of a negative character from a book or a movie or call it Satan or Devil. For the purpose of this course book, we shall continue to interchangeably refer to your Harm OCD as Harm OCD or Jay.