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Tug-of-War with the OCD Monster

5.1.19

When you struggle with OCD, it may feel like you are constantly fighting a monster that just won’t go away. Day in and day out you keep fighting it, and you feel exhausted. ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) researchers and clinicians use the Tug-of War with a Monster metaphor to help people realize that there are better options than fighting their thoughts and feelings each day of their lives.

Let’s pretend that your fears and doubts are like a big, hideous, and strong monster. You hate it, and you want to destroy it. The monster is holding one end of the rope and you are at the other end. In between the two of you there is a huge cliff with hot lava. You don’t want to fall over it. You want to control the monster, and so you keep pulling hoping he can fall over the cliff and die.

Every time you pull, the monster pulls with the same force. No matter how hard you pull, you don’t seem to even gain an inch in getting the monster closer to the cliff. You feel stuck and drained.

  • What if you didn’t have to fight the OCD monster anymore?
  • What if there was a better alternative to this never-ending battle?
  • What if you were willing to let go off the rope? You may say, “No way!” I cannot let the OCD monster win the battle. I have to win!”

It would be nice to win and maroon the OCD monster to a distant land so it would never come back. The question you have to ask yourself about this situation is this: has fighting the OCD monster actually worked? It has not gone anywhere and fighting it has actually made matters worse.

If you were to drop the rope, the monster may not go anywhere, but your relationship with it could change because you would no longer be fighting it.

As you drop the rope, you drop the struggle and life actually can change for you. You are no longer wasting time fighting this monster that has its own mind! Your outlook can change when you drop the rope and stop digging in your heels to get rid of the OCD monster.

Next time you have the urge to fight OCD, notice how much you are pulling in this game of tug-of-war and whether OCD is pulling as hard.

Has fighting OCD worked for you so far?

What have you missed in life because you have spent precious time fighting the OCD monster?

There are alternatives, and at Mindset Family Therapy we have the tools to help you “drop the rope” and start living life!

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