How do you stop a compulsion?

I am honestly trying to stop a compulsion. I’ve been working on it and sometimes I’m doing great and I can stop myself from compulsively carrying out a specific action. Other times I cave and I do what I know I shouldn’t, what I promised I shouldn’t, what I’ve been working on trying to stop.

Things have been altered to help me not do this, things have been put in place to help me not do what i do. I know I have to stop, but for some reason I can’t seem to.

I still find myself in the middle of my kid sisters room going through drawers and closets and everything else. I keep turning her room over. I thought I was doing so well. But I just started again. She’s been cool with me about it.

But the thing is, I’m really mad at myself for this… I did promise. I’m trying to figure if this is just habit, paranoia, compulsive behavior,… maybe the motivation doesn’t matter… I have to stop this. I am working on it… but it’s not going well right now.

How do others stop their compulsive behavior? Looking for ideas…

I had severe OCD for a couple of years, it stopped when I turned 16. I told myself that I wouldnt find anything good for me in compulsive behavior, and that compulsions were for me a way to busy myself and relieve anxiety, so I made myself do other things to relieve anxiety. The hardest was stopping my schedule- I had a schedule for eating, exercising, showering, doing homework, watching tv, everything had a time and a place, but it at first made me panic if I didnt do things on time, so I gradually did things out of order and practiced being flexible.

But I kind of tapered off of compulsive behavior, basically. I didnt quit my many compulsions cold turkey. I also asked myself what would happen if I didnt do my compulsions and told myself that whether I did my compulsions or not, whatever it was wouldnt happen. Sometimes I wasnt sure what would happen, I just felt like I would lose it or something. Ironically I did lose my mind at 19, so the worst did happen, 4 years later, LOL

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does she know you are doing this? why do you do this?

the first thing that came to mind for me was whats the harm?

maybe it is something that you like doing

but i think if it was me and it was my stuff i think i would say it is an invasion of privacy and i wouldn’t like that.

but what would happen if she got a lock for her room door to stop you going in there? do you think that might hep, thats the only thing i think might work but idk how that would affect you, maybe it would make you feel more suspicious but idk its just a suggestion.

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I’m right there with trying to put the shoe on the other foot too. If she turned my room over, I know I would flip out. So I have to stop turning her room over.

I used to tell her I was making sure she wasn’t on drugs… considering she’s a straight edge, that really made her upset thinking I didn’t trust her or believe her. I also used to read her journals. Not cool and I’m still trying not to do that.

The lock on the door didn’t work. We were in a house fire together when she was 3 and I was 14. When she put a lock on her bedroom door last year, I sort of flipped out and chopped the door down. So no locks.

I have no idea because I have a compulsion to buy things and it is on and off so I totally understand. Did you have this before diagnosis?

Maybe the question is why are you doing it? There should be a reason for the compulsion. Perhaps identifying it will help you to figure out if it is paranoia driven or something else.

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It sounds like maybe you’re expressing the fact that you care about her by sorting through the stuff in her room etc. It makes sense. I would try to just meditate and focus on reaffirming your behavior by doing something more practical such as communicating through a journal or writing out your feelings so that you can express what it is that you are thinking or feeling at a given moment.

Human beings are fairly complex, but simplifying things into constructive activities—like organizing someone’s room or even re-arranging furniture shows that you do care. But I’m sure she might find it a bit annoying. You need to not worry so much about controlling your actions as you do controlling the thoughts, emotions, and ideas behind your actions. For instance, if you can’t break a habit try and close your eyes and mimic the action in your mind, then think of a happier thought and then gradually let go.

Hope this helps. When I found myself feeling compulsive in the past, my personal technique was to redirect and affirm my actions. I taught this to myself, and it was introduced to me in my early therapy sessions. The idea of taking a thought that’s negative and replacing it with something equally as “negative” but less harmful. That was what the therapist taught me. Like if I’m afraid of the cold, she told me to hold an ice cube and then telll me what it made me think. What you are doing…you keep doing it because it’s a behavior pattern or trait that you probably developed, like me, over time to deal with schizophrenia or any other disorder like OCD or PTSD.

It’s like sorting through her room is like sorting through your thoughts, and shes a supportive influence in your life so…does it feel grounding to you? Does it make you feel clear headed…?


I used to have OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) with a habit of checking for stuff, switching lights on/ off etc. But I got to find out what the underlying problem was and it turned out that I was socially anxious whenever I was leaving the house. I faced up to my social anxiety ( through therapy) and eventually my OCD’s receded.

you need to find the trigger for why you are doing it,
does she have something in her room that can harm her ?
is it because of the fire you and your sis were involved in ?
are you triggered by stress or other things.
when i am over tired i check certain things , maybe saying a mantra to your self when you are at work, walking down the street, the mantra being something like. …" my kid sister is smart , safe and she deserves some privacy ".
try to see her as the beautiful woman she is becoming not the cute six year old in her mermaid costume.
take care


A pdoc once told me if you don’t do a compulsion in response to an obsession no matter what enough times, the obsessing and compulsing on that issue whatever it is will lessen. I was checking alot then.

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Nothing in her room that can harm her. Not because of the fire. We are very fire safe. I don’t smoke in the house under any circumstance. I have a little patch of concrete away from the lawn with a fire extinguisher by the back door. Smoke detectors are in working order. We have a fire escape plan.

It has to be a stress trigger or a stress mixed with panic. I have no idea what I’m even looking for. I just seem to keep turning over her room.

I think you might want to talk to your doc and therapist about this. There are some great meds for OCD-like tendencies, and therapy is also very effective.




I do have to talk to the therapist about this one. I can picture her now just shaking her head. But oh well. My kid sis has been cool about this. She doesn’t like it, but she won’t freak out about it.

I’m getting this weird feeling like I can’t tell what’s triggering this action until I can figure out what I’m looking for.

I can’t figure out what I’m looking for if I can’t tell what’s triggering this… circle again.
This doesn’t feel like my compulsion with light switches or little boxes. This feels different.

But I definitely want out of this spin cycle.

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I think, with some guided introspection with your therapist, that you’ll soon find out what that trigger is. It could be something as simple as subconsciously wanting to protect Riley. You HAVE been taking on the protector role with everything that’s going on between her and your brother. Just a thought.

I have faith that you’ll get through this. You’re a fighter and you’re committed to your well being :slight_smile:



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Thank you for this… Your on the outside looking in and that is a huge help. Sometimes I can’t see the forest for the tress sort of thing. Thank you for this idea. I think there is something very valid to this theory. It’s a starting point if not the answer.

Thank you again.

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Do you remember anything from childhood that scared you? It would have to be a fear that you got over by someone else talking you through it. Maybe you could learn to talk yourself out of it that way.

Try to channel some of the discipline you develop in your other activities like swimming. Maybe put yourself in that mindset.

Or you could substitute it with a less harmful ritual. It helped my ex boyfriend quit smoking for a few years. :wink:

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