Living With OCD: Dissing the Guilt


One of the more difficult things about living with symptoms of OCD, or any mental health diagnosis, is walking under a cloud of guilt or shame.

After all, we should be able to listen to the rational voice in our head telling us we don’t need to check the lock again, wash again, pull out another hair, or obsess about our sexual orientation.

Not only do guilt and shame feel bad and make symptom management more difficult, they also serve no helpful purpose: zip, zero, nada.

If shame or guilt were of any benefit in reducing or getting rid of symptoms, no one would have any. We all need to find ways to give symptom guilt the heave-ho.

Ideas To Help Diss Guilt and Shame

Curiouser and Curiouser

It can help to take an attitude of curiosity toward your obsessions and compulsions (or any type of symptom). Change the quality and tone of your self-talk about symptoms to one of a non-judgmental, curious observer. It will not banish guilt but is better than pouring fuel on the stigma-fire with shaming thoughts.

For instance, you might think: “Here I go again. I wonder why I have to do this. I don’t want to, but I have to - how strange.” Or: “I wonder what causes me to do this. Why would anyone keep doing something that is so annoying? Huh.”

Creatures of Habit

Remember that all human beings are creatures of habit. Even the most spontaneous and flexible people are comprised of many patterns and habits that they repeat every day. While obsessions and compulsions can be intrusive and detract from functioning and quality of life, repetitive thoughts, responses and actions make up a large part of everyone’s daily activity. OCD symptoms are too much of a very human attribute.

Compassion Crucible

Some people believe nothing in our lives is by accident, and others believe everything is owed to chance. Wherever people fit on that spectrum, it is true that the problems we face allow us to sincerely empathize and have compassion for those who go through the same or similar things.

A friend who is also a therapist told me: “I would never have become a therapist if I didn’t have severe anxiety and OCD. Without having these disorders, I would never have believed a person could be almost paralyzed with fear over a job interview or not be able to stop doing something unnecessary.”

Whether they are by design or by default, our struggles make us softer toward others who are having a difficult time, even those with problems we have not experienced. This does not mean we should celebrate having a mental health diagnosis, but having one does give us insight into the human condition we would not otherwise have.

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Do you or a loved one feel like you might have a problem with OCD? Take the Self Test now to get more information.

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