Dear Soft Hearted Loves,
This week we’ll discuss how to let that OCD thought or urge arise as the inner critic instead of resisting or battling it. The inner defender may tell the inner critic kind things, but the inner critic-inner defender battle will continue without the quiet, calm, centered part of ourselves. So much of Western, colonialized psychology tells us to challenge and invalidate ourselves. The inner defender may defend shouting things like “no, I’m not going cra$y, I’m going to therapy, talking more with friends about what’s up inside, and trying my best.” Essentially, the inner defender may reassure and defend with evidence, much like Western/colonialized psychology promotes. While this may serve some folx at certain times, the inner critic-inner defender battle is often only a temporary fix. What is more helpful is outlined below and summarized from my experience as a psychologist who serves several folx with OCD and also from the workbook recommended last week (can be purchased at this link: https://bookshop.org/a/23992/9781626254343).
- Note it. Okay so this can be difficult when the OCD voice tells people what it says is reality. It can be difficult to note the intrusive thoughts, but when you start to work on noting or observing the thoughts without judgment of the content of the thoughts you are rewiring your neuropathways and letting the thoughts arise without giving them more momentum to keep looping. We like to say something like this to the thoughts that arise, “oh there’s the thoughts, I see you, okay.” It has the person not engaging in a back and forth with the inner critic and inner defender. I’d also check out meditations such as on Insight Timer for noting and observing thoughts.
- Accept it. Listen, OCD thoughts can be so difficult. I don’t say this lightly. These thoughts can be so difficult folx may even think of hurting themselves to rid themselves of the painful OCD (if that’s the case for you, please reach out for safe help as soon as possible, because you are not alone). Internal family systems (IFS) says all parts are welcome and the workbook we’ve been talking about also states that acceptance that intrusive thoughts will arise from time to time. It’s not great or bad or okay, it just is. These thoughts will arise like hunger will arise. It is a simple fact. You may wonder, “how can Dr. Joharchi tell me to accept intrusive thoughts that tell me I’m evil or that I may hurt children or people I love,” or how can she tell me to accept thoughts that make me cry and feel like I’m spiraling?” You’re right, I don’t accept the content, nor do I believe it defines you. I simply accept that this is the way your brain is right now. I recommend you learn what you can about OCD to accept that these thoughts and urges will arise and that says nothing about who you are. We do not have to identify with the thoughts or wonder when they will go away. We can simply accept that the thoughts are here in this moment. That will help with reducing the internal resistance, which as we’ve discussed eventually makes it worse. One tip that helps with acceptance is fostering a deep feeling of self-compassion by talking to ourselves like we’d talk to a little one who has these thoughts or urges. We’d be kind, gentle and understanding.
I’m so proud of you for even reading these articles on OCD because that in itself can be triggering. Good job and we’ll see you for part three of this series soon!