Can Positive Thinking Become An OCD Compulsion?

Last Update on July 19, 2023 : Published on July 19, 2023
Can Positive Thinking Become An OCD Compulsion

If your frustrations have been dismissed by others with a dash of positivity, then you’ve encountered toxic positivity. Positive thinking has always been a tool for personal growth, resilience, and optimism. It is what encourages us to stay hopeful and keep a positive attitude in life, but when this positive thinking becomes toxic, then it can contribute to poor well-being. And what happens when the same positive thinking turns into compulsions?

Positive thinking is when you consciously direct your thoughts and actions toward constructive and optimistic ideas. With positive thinking, you can reframe negative situations, embrace gratitude, and even maintain an optimistic mindset. It is also believed that positive thinking can lead to increased motivation, lower stress levels, and overall better well-being.

But, while positive thinking can have so many benefits, it can turn into an OCD compulsion when it starts to mess with your daily life. In this article, we’re exploring the link between OCD and positive thinking and how it can become an OCD compulsion.

Understanding Toxic Positivity

Understanding Toxic Positivity

When I say positive thinking, I mean thinking of gratitude and having an “I can do it” mindset. But when I say toxic positivity, I mean thinking positive thoughts to an extent where you ignore all negative thoughts and feelings. Toxic positive thinking means not paying attention to the negative things that bring perspective to situations.

For example; you may complain about how you’re overworked, but then others will tell you that you should be thankful for the job you have instead of complaining. Or when you discuss a traumatic situation and someone else tells you to get over it and stop thinking about it.

Toxic positivity can be dangerous because it makes you suppress your negative emotions and dismiss everything that might bring a new perspective to your life. It makes you hide your feelings even when you should not.

Can Positive Thinking Become a Compulsion?

While people with OCD struggle with obsessions and compulsions that are mostly centered around contamination, harm, and other things, certain compulsions can be centered around irrational things such as toxic positive thinking.

However, when you think about OCD compulsions centered around thinking, the common type of OCD compulsion that comes up is OCD magical thinking.

Magical thinking in OCD is irrational thinking based on the reliance that your thoughts can alone change how an event or a situation pans out. Even when there’s no association between the thought and the event you might be targeting.

We all have, once in our lives, thought something that can be categorized as magical thinking. You might even visualize being rich right before you buy a lottery ticket. You might believe in some ritual (like wearing a particular hat) when your favorite sports team is playing. However, OCD’s magical thinking is more than that.

You might engage in obsessive thinking such as;

I had an intrusive thought about hurting someone, so this means that I will hurt them eventually

I dreamt about a natural disaster and it happened truly. It is my fault

I fear being hit by a car but if I allow this thought to fester, I truly will be hit by a car

 If you’re living with OCD, then you might think that participating in OCD compulsions might soothe the anxiety you experience because of these obsessive thoughts. However, that’s not always true.

OCD Magical Thinking And Positive Thinking

I need to think positive thoughts or negative things will happen

If I refrain from thinking about being sad, then I won’t be sad

I need to be thankful for what I have in my life. If I don’t do that, then it’ll all be destroyed

When it comes to OCD magical thinking and toxic positivity, this is what some of the obsessive thoughts might look like. These thoughts can be dangerous because if you don’t engage in them, then they can turn into truly obsessive thoughts.

When you engage in toxic positive thoughts as a compulsion, it can make you turn to unhealthy habits to cope with them. The interesting thing is that we exist in a world where we hear positive thoughts or comments regularly. So much so, that it might even sound true after a point. This toxic positive or “good vibes only” toxicity can only worsen the magical thinking in OCD.

How to Stop Toxic Positivity Compulsion?

If you’re living with OCD, then toxic positive thoughts can be quite harmful. Here’s how you can fight toxic positivity compulsions and even magical thinking in OCD;

1. Figure out toxic positivity

One of the steps to addressing toxic positivity compulsion is to figure out or identify whether toxic positivity exists. It can be hard to recognize toxic positive thoughts because they can be disguised as truths. However, you can figure out if you’re experiencing toxic positive compulsion when you pretend that everything is good and positive when you’re truly not feeling it. Toxic positive thoughts make you feel bad instead of good.

2. Seek professional help

You can also seek a professional’s help to deal with toxic positive thoughts and compulsions that may come with them. Therapy can offer a safe and non-judgmental space to process your emotions and thoughts and a therapist can help you address your frustration without outright dismissing them. Therapy can also work well if you have OCD.

3. Remind yourself to think rationally

You can also engage in rational thinking when you find yourself engaging in OCD magical thinking. You can remind yourself that there is no need to “think positive” every time. You can choose to read some affirmations such as;

Mental illness is not a decision I make willingly. I can, however, choose to make healthy decisions to ease my symptoms.”

“It’s OK to feel sad. It’s OK to express these emotions.”

“Sometimes, situations don’t always go in my favor, but ignoring them does not make them less bad.”

4. Feel and acknowledge your feelings

Know that to heal, you need to acknowledge your feelings. Suppressing your feelings will not make you feel good. Continuing to suppress your feelings can even cause long-term consequences, so try to acknowledge your feelings and feel your emotions as they are. Know that emotions make you human and to acknowledge them is to acknowledge who you are.


It might be tempting to fall into the “good vibes only” trap, but in the long run, this trap can make you feel stuck in a cycle of toxic positivity. When you feel your toxic positive thoughts turning into OCD compulsions, then do not hesitate to seek a professional’s help. It’s OK to feel negative emotions. Give yourself a moment to process and express them as they are meant to. Don’t try to suppress these thoughts and feelings.

OCD magical thinking can also be related to toxic positivity compulsions and if not addressed, can leave you feeling guilty and a mix of other emotions. Positive thoughts are always welcome, but they don’t have to be forced.

I hope this article helped you understand the link between OCD and positive thinking. For more, you can write to us at or leave a comment in the section below.

About The Author

Swarnakshi Sharma
Swarnakshi Sharma

Swarnakshi is a content writer at Calm sage, who believes in a healthier lifestyle for mind and body. A fighter and survivor of depression, she strives to reach and help spread awareness on ending the stigma surrounding mental health issues. A spiritual person at heart, she believes in destiny and the power of Self. She is an avid reader and writer and likes to spend her free time baking and learning about world cultures.

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