- “Maybe I’m a failure as a … mother, wife, Christ follower etc.”
- “Maybe having this thought or that emotion makes me a terrible person …”
- “Maybe I’m not committed to God enough…”
An OCD sufferer passed along their bold, victorious acceptance script. It’s one of the many tools we use to treat OCD through CBT and ACT, and two ways we use them (besides for exposures) is to facilitate acceptance of current reality and to validate that which is in service of our deepest values. It reminds me of The Lord’s Prayer by Jesus in Matthew 6:11. We only have this moment, yet so many of our troubles pile up when we fight against that which is out of our control and even time itself. I celebrate with the person who passed this along and the many others who have walked this path.
“My root, core fear is that I am a bad person and I have to do everything I can to prove that I’m not. I’m afraid that certain thoughts or feelings or emotions will indicate that I am a bad person and so I engage in lots of mental compulsions to reassure myself and try to prove that I’m not. These include, suppression, mental review, perseveration etc. I will research compulsively, I will seek reassurance from other’s that I’m “okay,” I will practice conversations in my head over and over before they happen, I will replay my own words in my head over and over to make sure I shared something wholly and accurately. I will feel a strong metal urge to “figure it out right now” (like I can’t move on to anything else until I figure this out and prove to myself that I’m okay. I also bite and pick at my fingers and skin until I bleed and compulsively check door locks. All these things are a futile attempt to prove myself. Prove to myself, and to the world and to God that I’m not bad. That I’m okay. It feels like I’ve spent a lifetime with guilt and shame nipping at my heals and as soon as I prove I’m “good” or “okay” on one area, the next thing will just pop up. Questions and uncertainties like:
- Maybe I’m a failure as a … mother, wife, Christ follower etc.
- Maybe having this thought or that emotion makes me a terrible person …
- Maybe I’m not committed to God enough…
I can never ultimately outrun them. The key lies in leaning into these scary emotions that my instinct tells me to avoid at all cost. I say to that feeling “oh hey! You’re here! Join the party. Stay as long as you need to. I’m so glad I’m having this thought or feeling so that I can get more practice sitting with it!” And ya know what happens? My physiological body learns that this feeling doesn’t need to elicit a panicked, survival mode reaction. And by not figuring it all out, I actually can let it go and move on with life!
The value that I have added into my life as I move forward is the idea of valuing peace with uncertainty. Maybe yes, maybe no. I’m just going to choose to move on. In the last few months, I’ve practiced imaginal scripts, practiced noticing my thoughts objectively, eliminated reassurance seeking, practiced cognitive restructuring, proactive thinking, body language adjustment, and interoceptive exposure. These and other practices have greatly decreased my compulsive behaviors both in severity and in time duration. I’m tempted to think that I will only be all better and all done with this when I never struggle with or participate in any of these compulsive behaviors again. However, that’s not realistic and doesn’t fit my goals either. I can make peace with uncertainty and that can bring freedom.”
If you would like to read more on the topic of acceptance and acceptance scripts, check out my article, Accepting the Unacceptable in Anxiety & OCD.