Skip to content
Includes Expert Content
anxiety need to control it
An_252569 posted:
Recently I've been experience so much anxiety over little things. Mostly things that seem irrational from other people. This morning while walking about to my dorm I saw a book bag outside. I figured that no one will leave their book bag outside so took it into my dorms front desk, but nobody is at the desk in the morning. I just left it there. I told a worker who works with the OSD students that I found a book bag and where I left it ( I figured maybe one of the students who are in a wheelchair might of lost it). Now I keep thinking what if it was stolen and people think I did it, or what if somebody steals from it and they think I did it because I brought it in. I sometimes feel like I shouldn't be so nice and try to help others because I experience so much anxiety. I like to think that others are like me and appreciate my kind gesture by grabbing the item and placing it inside. But I know people who are not like that.
Reid Wilson, PhD responded:
Hey, An_252569-
These types of worries are common for those who have obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) symptoms. I am not saying that you have OCD, but maybe you can apply some of the skills we use for them. The first step is to acknowledge that you have difficulty with tolerating uncertainty, particularly around issues where you think you may be responsible for causing harm to yourself or someone else (like being accused of stealing).
Second, consider that this specific event regarding the backpack is totally irrelevant to what you need to address. It just becomes a stimulus for your worry. So don't focus on "am I going to get in trouble about the backpack?" Don't even bother reassuring yourself about the topic — in fact, that's one of the ways you can know you are obsessing: reassurance doesn't help.

Your work is to let go of your focus on whether you did the right thing with the backpack. Let go of trying to figure out the answer to that question. And learn to tolerate not knowing if you did right. And learn to tolerate the physical distress that comes from not answering that question. I know that seems like a very difficult thing to do, but you are asking for advice about how to get stronger. This is the way.
If you want to read more about this, you can read the OCD section of my website . It's full of tips.

Featuring Experts

Reid Wilson, PhD is an international expert in the treatment of anxiety disorders, with books translated into nine languages. He is author of Don...More

Helpful Tips

Dr. Farrell's WebMD TV videosExpert
Dr. Farrell has a series of 12 videos that cover everything from your need for sleep, inheriting anxiety disorders, positive self-talk and ... More
Was this Helpful?
68 of 85 found this helpful

Related Drug Reviews

  • Drug Name User Reviews

Report Problems With Your Medications to the FDA

FDAYou are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.