Carson’s self-evaluative thoughts didn’t seem to cease in his life. He was consumed with thoughts such as, “I’m so dumb! Did I eat something that contained alcohol? I’ve sinned” “I’m so despicable for having those impure thoughts!” “I don’t deserve salvation.” “I’m unworthy of God’s love!” Unfortunately, there are many others who also experience these types of thoughts when they struggle with scrupulosity OCD. The human mind’s main function (OCD or not) is to protect us when it perceives we are in danger. However, when you’ve made a “mistake” (believing you’ve sinned, though you haven’t), and start stressing about it, your mind can quickly come to the rescue. It may provide evaluative thoughts so you can do “better next time.” The q
When OCD takes over your life, you might feel like you have no choice. OCD can make you believe that avoidance is the only option. It may seem helpful but only temporarily. Though anxiety and uncertainty is part of life, the OCD mind may insist that you can eventually get rid of those feelings permanently. You may fall for its lies when it says, “If you don’t do your rituals, you will be anxious. Your worries may come true. You may end up acting on them. Fear will keep you safe!” Hearing those thoughts coming out from your mind can be scary. You may falsely believe that your compulsions (public and private) prevent you from acting on your fears. You may believe these rituals are actually helping you, but are they? You don’t ha
You can apply these steps when you feel shame or other emotions! You can recognize that being imperfectly good is enough. You can change your relationship with the unpleasant internal experiences (e.g., anxiety, shame, guilt, and uncertainty) and find joy in what matters most to you—your values. Be patient and remember that though you may be imperfectly good, it is possible to navigate religious and moral anxiety (scrupulosity OCD) so you can release fear and find peace!
Next time you feel overwhelmed by shame, take a minute to think of a loved one who has experienced a failure, feels inadequate, or may be struggling with a challenge similar to yours. What would you say to acknowledge their feelings? (“I know you don’t like feeling this way. Shame hurts a lot.”) When you experience a difficult moment, what would a loved one say to you? Take a moment and think of your suffering. Imagine your loved one telling you these words. Then, change the statement and say it to yourself. (“I don’t like feeling this way. Shame hurts a lot!”) Experiencing scrupulosity OCD is an intense hardship. You need and deserve to treat yourself with kindness when shame shows up! Stories Across Faith: Navigating
We all have stories that may have initially triggered shame, guilt or other unpleasant feelings in our lives. When we were kids, we all fibbed to our parents. Do you remember what happened when you got caught and the grown-ups reprimanded you and expressed their disappointment? You might remember it as a funny or unpleasant story. Have you noticed how your amazing mind reminds you of it at times? The Amazing Human Mind The adults in our lives most likely had good intentions in correcting us. If in that very moment we experienced unpleasant feelings such as shame and guilt, our brain automatically recorded the link between the situation and the feelings and thoughts we were experiencing then. AND there is a slight little challe
Can you develop kindness and compassion for your present self as you would for a young child? Will you be willing to be imperfectly good and live your values–do what matters most in your life? Some people worry that in loving themselves they’re being selfish and, worse, narcissistic. The reality is that the scrupulous mind is leading you to become the extreme opposite of a narcissist. As you get fused with unhelpful thoughts and feelings, you begin to feel miserable and fail to give yourself even a crumb of love. It is not effective, is it? Would God want you to mistreat yourself? You can develop self-compassion skills when you a) connect to the present moment of pain, b) remember your common humanity with others, and
Life is difficult, and when scrupulosity OCD is present, it can be tremendously hard! The good news is that you can learn how to respond to your thoughts and feelings. You can choose to live with vitality even when those unpleasant thoughts and feelings are present. When you don’t engage with the unhelpful thoughts, you can start creating new brain pathways that will allow you to be free from the scrupulosity trap. You can be imperfectly good and live your faith and other values you care about most in your life!
Are your fears compelling you to constantly look for reassurance? Your yearning for coherence with your thoughts can lead you to cease doing those activities that bring you joy. (“I wish I could be with my friends, but my ugly thoughts may show up, so I’d better stay home.”) Uncertainty is unpleasant and naturally creates other uncomfortable internal experiences. Reassurance-seeking is the easiest path. Even though you may not realize it, private compulsions may be your current go-to rituals to find relief. What are you willing to do to decrease this pervasive compulsion? Notice how often you look for reassurance either mentally or behaviorally?
Treating anxiety disorders and obsessive-compulsive disorder became personal for me years before I became a psychotherapist. Unbeknownst to my husband and me, our youngest son’s early childhood stubborn streaks were an indication of his anxiety challenges. By the time he was in elementary school, his “just so” behaviors were evident, but we hoped he would grow out of them. By middle school, we realized he needed professional help. Long story short, we literally “took the tour” around the different cities in our state in search of a therapist who knew how to treat anxiety disorders and OCD, to no avail. It wasn’t until our son was in his early twenties that he himself found a specialist from California. Our experience motivated me
What shows up in your mind and body when you see these images? Have you ever gone on a white-water rafting excursion in your life? If you are a white-water rafting fan, you probably yearn to go back to turbulent waters and experience the adrenaline rush. If you ask me, this was a once-in a life time experience for my family. None of us wish to ever repeat that event in our lives! As I began to write “Imperfectly Good,” I thought of my rafting experience and my clients who struggle with fears related to their religious and moral anxiety (Scrupulosity OCD). Many of them report, “It is as if I’m drowning on dry land.” So they fight for their lives and do whatever they can to escape the turbulent waters within them. Their frightful e