When you have OCD and you have constant bizarre, scary and anxiety provoking thoughts it hard too look past them and we often find ourselves thinking there MUST be something wrong with us for thinking the way we do. I learnt what I am going to talk about at the OCD Treatment Centre and it’s really eye-opening, so I thought I’d share what I was taught with you guys!
From my personal experience whenever I had thoughts I considered bad I used to instantly think I must be a bad person to think such horrible things. Which is one of the main reasons OCD is a problem with our beliefs about ourselves and the meaning of our thoughts. Thoughts are just thoughts, the meaning we attach to the thoughts is the problem, e.g ‘If I have a bad thought I am a bad person’ so is the thought we had actually bad? not really thoughts are harmless they are just brain activity, we have created a belief that certain thoughts are bad and should not be thought about.
Often OCD sufferers like myself get stuck in something called ‘Thought-Action-Fusion’ also known as magical thinking which is basically thinking a thought, is just as bad as acting on it or it happening, which is no wonder we feel so much anxiety and guilt if we think about certain things or do not perform mental or physical rituals. How could you not feel anxiety when your brain is saying ‘If you can think about that, you must be a psychopath’ ‘If you don’t do this then your family could die’ its because a lot of the time thinking these things to us is as bad as it happening, or thinking these things means it is almost certain to be true. which you can find out more about HERE as well as other factors of OCD.
I have always been told everyone has intrusive thoughts, but people with OCD get stuck on them, unlike people without OCD who don’t take any notice or can easily dismiss them as ‘silly thoughts’, but that’s because they haven’t attached any meaning/belief to them, to them they are just ‘thoughts’ but to people with OCD like myself, they MUST MEAN something. A belief is nothing more than what you have told yourself or been enough times that you believe it, often beliefs are irrational and unhelpful, but hard to get rid off.
An example of this is Person 1 has a belief that the colour red is lucky, person 2 has a belief that red is unlucky. Person 1 is going to have happy, pleasant and positive thoughts and feelings towards the colour red, because they have the belief its lucky. Person 2 on the other hand is going to have horrible, negative thoughts and feelings towards the colour red because they have the belief its unlucky. Person 1 will like red and want to be around it, person 2 will want to avoid red. So whos belief do you think is correct, person 1 or 2?… neither its purely a belief they have both attached to the colour.
Which is the same with a person with OCD and without, the person with OCD will have a thought, feeling or urge and see it as a negative thing that means something about themselves, or that they need to do something about e.g perform a ritual.A person without OCD will have a thought and still be at peace with themselves, because they have no meaning or belief attached to the thoughts. A good thing I got taught by Sharon Davies from the OCD Treatment Centre was that it’s not the story or the content that’s important, a story is just a combination of thoughts, It’s the meaning we have attached to the story’s/thoughts, it’s what we do about the story (thoughts) which becomes the problem.
Which is true it’s not our thoughts, feelings and urges that are the problem it’s what we do about them, whether we choose to acknowledge them and be sucked in by OCD. So when you think about it, a thought is just a thought, if we get rid of the meaning and belief we have attached to the thoughts, OCD couldn’t survive because we would no longer be bothered by the content of the thoughts and without our attention OCD cannot survive. Trying to change a belief you have had for so long can be really hard, as I have found out and still am, but once you realise you have an irrational belief that’s the start of getting rid of it. Remember if you no longer believed your thoughts, feelings and urges meant something bad, where would your OCD be? Gone.