Accepting OCD: Why It’s Important to Be Okay With Obsessions

Living with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder can be a tremendous challenge. The “obsessions” (recurring, persistent thoughts that cause stress) can impact your life each and every day, and the compulsions can be embarrassing, frustrating, and often lead to further life stress.

OCD is also a cycle. The stress from the obsessions and compulsions leads to further stress that exacerbates the way you react in the future:

  • You have a thought
  • That thought brings you stress
  • You worry about that thought
  • You have that thought again
  • That thought brings you more stress

You try so hard not to have those thoughts day in, day out, and yet they keep coming – sometimes in even greater frequency. Stress and anxiety is often the result.

Accepting Them is a Solution to Treatment

What’s interesting, however, is that sometimes the best way to decrease the frequency of the thoughts is to accept them, and to be okay with the idea that they’re just thoughts.

Studies have consistently shown that the more you try not to think about something, the more you think about it. This isn’t just anecdotal. Lab research with subjects has shown that the more you try to suppress a thought, the more you think about it.

A study asked half of participants to press a button every time they think of a white bear, while the other half were told NOT to think about the white bear but to press the button whenever they do. The latter group, the one told not to think about the white bear, thought about the white bear significantly more often than the one that wasn’t told to avoid the thought.

Accept the Thoughts as Thoughts

If you have obsessions, then you know how often you’ve tried to avoid them. You’ve tried to stop having them, and yet they keep coming back.

This research shows that, in general, one of the reasons that you are experiencing such a recurrence of these thoughts is because of how much you don’t want to have them. If we apply the research into our lives, then the solution to avoiding as many recurring thoughts is to accept them. Be okay with the idea that the thoughts will occur, and the fact that they’re just thoughts and they’ll come and go as needed.

If you can accept that the thoughts will happen, be okay with them, and not try to fight them, you should experience the obsessions less often. That doesn’t mean that you’ll never experience them, but you can decrease the frequency that they affect you.

Accepting the thoughts is one step towards controlling your OCD symptoms. If you’re in need of additional OCD help in Long Island, contact me today.