Our friend Lauren asked the question below on the public side of this page in response to my post about self-confidence and self-esteem. She has graciously agreed to let me use her question as a prompt for today’s message in hopes that it may help others. (I absolutely love the selflessness of the awesome people who follow this page.)
Lauren: “Thanks for this. What would you say about when the ones and things you love/d are the object of your obsessions? When it feels like you’re not sure what you like, believe, etc. etc.? I definitely have some mixed issues going on here.”
Thank you for the question, Lauren. I actually hear from a lot of people who struggle with this theme of obsession. It could be thoughts about whether you love (or hate) your spouse, significant other, friends, or children; Or that you have friends who are gay/lesbian and you have thoughts that you may be homophobic or that you have friends of a different race and you have thoughts that you may be a racist, or it could be that you question your Faith, and on and on. And to top things off, when you get around the people involved in the obsessions or who care about the same things you do (like religion), you have a compulsion to tell them about your thoughts hoping that it may make you feel better, but then you are afraid how they will react to this information. These obsessions/compulsions can basically apply to anyone or anything that you naturally love or love to do. Many people tell me that they have this overwhelming sense that they are just a big fake and a fraud. And maybe the most frustrating thing is that the sufferer doesn’t know how much of it, if any, is OCD related. I mean, after all, everyone has random unexplainable thoughts, right? So what in the world to do. . . . .
Now that I have set the issue up, let me give my normal caveat — I’m not a therapist. I’m jus a guy who had OCD really bad and, with help, figured a way out of the dark forest. With that said, in my own battle with OCD, once I developed my strategy, I tried to stick to my strategy. When I was in the middle of the storm, I tried to slow it down and break it down. I tried to figure out whether OCD was at play or not. In one sense, the way you posed the question, answers the question. You described the thought as an obsession. Yes, it is confusing, because I think most people naturally and randomly have such thoughts. BUT, here is the difference, and this applies to any naturally occurring thought or emotion (such as guilt). When the thought starts acting like OCD – intrusive, repetitive, unwanted thoughts causing anxiety and leading to some mental or physical compulsion — we have a pretty good idea that it is OCD and we can treat it as such.
For me, that meant, even though I was still uncertain that it was OCD, I would allow the thoughts to be in my mind (I became indifferent) and I would resist (as best I could) performing the compulsion. I kept my plan simple and I defaulted to the plan, no matter how much OCD changed. Bottomline, you know who you love and you know your character. The rest belongs to OCD. I hate this disorder. Hang in there.
#OCD can be defeated. I’m with you. Let’s go.