OCD is often seen as a bully. In fact, that’s how I saw it for many years. And if that view of OCD helps you stick to therapy, and motivates you in your treatment then that is wonderful and keep at it. But I wanted to share a different view I offer to my clients.
OCD simply put, is our brain perceiving a threat where there most likely is not one. Because it perceives a threat we get a lot of anxiety (guilt, disgust, shame etc). Because the thoughts are scary and the feelings very intense, we react by doing compulsions in the hopes that it lowers anxiety and thoughts.
OCD is not this evil entity determined to torture us. It does not have its own brain. OCD is manifested from our own brain.
Our brain is scared, it perceives a threat, it floods us with anxiety to get us to act, to get us to safety. Thousands of years ago when there were more predators, and rival tribes trying to take our resources, this function of the brain was brilliant, and still is when we are in real danger. However, when experiencing OCD the brain is in overdrive and identifying threats where there most likely isn’t any.
So, our brain isn’t a bully, villain or monster (although it can feel that way), it’s just a scared part of us trying to keep us safe. And unless we can see real danger, we need to start to give that part of our brain compassion. It’s scared. We’re scared. And that’s tough. So let’s drop the fight, and embrace understanding, compassion and the determination to implement the strategies to calm that part of our brain.
Hope that helps.
Illustration by https://namiralph.com/
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