Sometimes our thoughts can get out of control or maybe they’re just at a constant high speed. I know for me mine don’t stop until I’m asleep, 24/7 they’re on full blast and don’t let up until my brain shuts down. Even then – my subconscious is having a field day, giving me the most bizarre and random dreams. But that’s a topic for another time.
When thinking about recovery, or the journey through it, it’s almost like we’re given a prize at the end of the line, a golden incentive to keep going, and that is the promise that our thoughts will go away. I know for me, that’s all I’ve ever wanted, for the thoughts and images to stop. Because once they cease, then there’s no rituals, and if there’s no rituals or thoughts then there’s no OCD and it’ll bring everything else toppling down like jenga blocks if you can simply remove the foundational component of the thoughts.
But what if it’s not about that? These thoughts are intrusive and out of our control, there’s no way to tell when they’ll appear or not. They’ll pop up at the worst of times and stick around like a bad smell. But what if it’s not about getting rid of them? At least not in the short term. These thought patterns and images have taken years and years to build up and get to the habitually engrained status that they currently are, so they’re not going to go away immediately. It takes a long time to break a habit and replace it with a new one, the same goes with thoughts.
It’s about understanding and observing the thoughts. Completely detaching from their contents and realising they’re not who we are or what we think. They’re simply representations of fears, anxieties and worries manifested as random sentences and images in our minds. It’s about lessening the importance and attention we give to them. Like a barking dog trying to get your attention, it will give up eventually when it knows you’re not responding. The thoughts cannot survive without our participation. As long as we continue to dismiss them as simply passing things in our head and nothing more, we take away their power. And without that, they will gradually disappear.
There’s no use resisting and fighting because that is giving them traction, that’s giving them the attention of you they do crave. People with OCD and anxiety, myself included, often think that acceptance means you “like” the thoughts or you’re “approving” them when this couldn’t be further from the truth. We’re simply coming to terms with the fact that these thoughts are present in our minds and they are not us and are out of our conscious control. Acceptance is about letting them be there without fear or judgement to what they mean. But to understand that their contents is meaningless and irrelevant to you as a person in your life in reality.