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 experiences seem endless.
I don’t know what it’s like to struggle with OCD, but I know what it is like to experience fear and experience the uncertainty of whether I’ll survive a frightening event. At one point in this fearful trip, we came to a point called El Chorro (“the faucet” in Spanish). Even with everyone paddling and doing their best, we simply couldn’t make it and our raft capsized. I wasn’t sure if I was ever going to come up. I thought I was going to drown as the current pulled me under. I was glad I remembered these instructions: “If you fall into the water, don’t let go of the paddle no matter what.” Eventually, I was able to get to a pool of calm water, where I waited to be rescued.
What does scrupulosity OCD feel like for you? If you don’t relate to the drowning metaphor, what does religious and moral anxiety feel like for you? What is it like when you have the urge to live your religious and moral values perfectly?
Adversity Is Part of the Journey
I do not believe that sheer suffering teaches. If suffering alone taught, all the world would be wise, since everyone suffers. To suffering must be added mourning, understanding, patience, love, openness, and the willingness to remain vulnerable.
—Anne Morrow Lindbergh
As we travel through the turbulent waters of life, the different types of challenges we encounter can help us mature emotionally. Indeed, adversity is part of life, and being free of it all before finding joy in life is a futile proposition of the scrupulous mind.
The good news is that you don’t have to wait for your trials to be gone to start living life. You don’t need to change what you care about the most. Instead, you can change how you see your struggles. “Imperfectly Good: Navigating Religious and Moral Anxiety” can provide you with skills that will allow you to create the life you want!