OCD loves to lie. It will pretend to be a helpful ally who wants to keep you safe. But in reality, it is only manipulating you into doing more and more rituals. 10 common lies OCD tells are listed below – along with reasons why you shouldn’t listen!
1. Lie: You have to know for certain. OCD-related fears can greatly vary, but one thing they all have in common is an intolerance of uncertainty. OCD will tell you that something bad will happen unless you have a 100% guarantee that everything is safe. Whether you check the stove multiple times or wish away ‘bad thoughts’, the goal is to feel certain that the feared outcome won’t happen.
Truth: Certainty is an illusion. Ritualizing does not make you safer and it will not give you the certainty you crave. Instead of responding to your fears by ritualizing and desperately trying to achieve certainty, respond with “Maybe…” and work on embracing the uncertainty.
2. Lie: The anxiety will last forever. OCD tells you that the anxiety or discomfort will last forever and that you need to do a ritual to make it go away.
Truth: This lie is not only false, it is impossible. All anxiety will come down eventually. It takes a significant amount of energy to be anxious and as a result your body cannot maintain these feelings forever.
3. Lie: You shouldn’t have bad thoughts. OCD may tell you that “normal or good people don’t have these thoughts” and that you are bad person for having negative or scary thoughts.
Truth: Everyone has weird, intrusive thoughts now and again. In fact, research shows that there are no differences in the thought content of people with and without OCD. The difference is in how people respond to their thoughts. While most people shrug them off and go about their day, people with OCD tend to overreact to these thoughts. As a result, they engage in rituals to reduce their anxiety, which actually makes the thoughts come more frequently.
4. Lie: Thoughts = actions. OCD tells you that having a thought or urge to do something makes it more likely to happen.
Truth: You can’t control the world with your thoughts. Thoughts are just thoughts. For instance, if I think of winning the lottery all day every day I am no more likely to win the lottery than if I don’t think of winning at all.
5. Lie: You have to control your thoughts.
Truth: We can’t stop good, bad, or upsetting thoughts from coming into our heads. But we can change how we react to these thoughts. The more you react to the thought and try to stop thinking about it, the more you will think about it. The less we react to a thought the sooner it passes.
6. Lie: Possibility = Probability. OCD will tell you that bad things are very likely to happen.
Truth: Just because something is possible, doesn’t mean that it is likely to happen. Typically, the feared outcome is highly unlikely.
7. Lie: My thoughts make me dangerous.
Truth: We can’t choose what thoughts we have, but we can choose how we react to them. Your thoughts can’t make things happen or stop them from happening.
8. Lie: You have to do things “Just Right” in order for you to feel okay. Example: If you touch the wall with your right hand, you feel you must touch it with your left had.
Truth: “Just right” is something OCD makes up. Giving into the compulsion only makes the obsession grow more, which means you’ll have to do the ritual even more frequently. Delaying a ritual and sitting with the anxiety is actually what gives you a feeling of safety and control.
9. Lie: If something bad does happen, I won’t be able to cope.
Truth: People underestimate their ability to cope with feared outcomes. We are far more capable of coping than we usually believe.
10. Lie: You’ll never get better.
Truth: Recovery is possible and help for OCD is available. If you or a loved one is suffering from OCD, reach out to a professional with expertise in OCD and exposure response prevention treatment.