As discussed earlier in my post titled “Human Doing,” people with OCPD are preoccupied with the efficient use of time. To their frustration, however, the combination of their hypersensitivity and orderliness causes them to inefficiently think too much about what can and cannot be done to maintain order in this world. Since rules maintain order without requiring the follower to inefficiently have to think too much, people with OCPD demonstrate a great liking for them.
People with OCPD like rules because rules save them the time of having to inefficiently think about what can and cannot be done to maintain order.
Behind every good rule, there was a person who thought long and hard. Repeating this long and hard thinking process would only be inefficient and redundant. All that is left to be done is following the rule.
But which rules people with OCPD follow highly depend on how much they trust the original rule maker. If they do not trust the original rule maker, people with OCPD will do much of their own thinking and making up of their own rules. Since their own rules were born out of much of their own trusted thinking, people with OCPD will follow them religiously without much concern to go back and inefficiently question their original thinking process, even if it was all flawed.
The breaking of a rule is a big deal to people with OCPD because their all-or-nothing thinking hyperbolizes the consequences. People with OCPD find it “unfair” when others break the rules that OCPDers try so hard to follow. They can feel so much anger when they see this kind of injustice. When people with OCPD break their own rules, they can feel so much guilt.
SO WHAT NOW?
HOW TO CO-EXIST WITH THE OTHER (OCPD):
If you really believe so strongly in some of the rules that you follow, follow them yourself without expecting others to do the same. If others have not asked you to share your thoughts on what can and cannot be done, do not go ahead and impose your ideas onto them. If others break a rule that you follow with so much conviction, do not be quick to judge that they are doing that deliberately to hurt you.
HOW TO CO-EXIST WITH THE OTHER (OTHERS):
If your OCPD friend is upset because you broke a rule, first let him or her know that you did not mean to make him or her upset. In the case that your OCPD friend’s all-or-nothing thinking causes him or her to see you as an enemy, be strong and do not take personally any of the offensive language he or she might use. Assure him or her that the consequence of the broken rule is not as bad as he or she thinks. If he or she claims that the consequence will be something extremely bad, disagree confidently and assist him or her in seeing the “middle-ground.” If your OCPD friend is upset with him or herself for breaking a rule, try to comfort your OCPD friend by telling him or her that it is ok, that the consequence of breaking that rule is not as bad as he or she thinks.
HOW TO BE MORE FLEXIBLE WITH RULES (OCPD):
Understand that, in some cases, it is better to take the time to think about what should and should not be done. After all the thinking, what you decide to do in the end may be quite different from what you would have done had you blindly followed a pre-established rule. When a rule is broken, fight against your all-or-nothing thinking by telling yourself that the consequence will not be so bad.