In this article we explore the concept of letting go of OCD. In theory it sounds simple, but in practice it can be incredibly hard. With the right tools though, we can learn to let go of OCD and arrive at a place where it simply doesn’t bother us so much.
Letting Go Is A Useful Skill
Recently I was discussing with someone about the importance of letting things go. Be it arguments, relationships, or even a house sale that didn’t go through, learning to let things go is a very useful skill and can save us a lot of wasted time and energy on things that just aren’t serving us.
Letting go of OCD is no different. So lets get clear on what I mean by letting go of OCD. I don’t mean getting rid of it. Of course one of the main things that keeps anxiety disorders going is pushing it away, so we really don’t want to be doing that. As you probably know, acceptance is key when it comes to OCD.
You Don’t Need To Perform Compulsions To Push Things Away
By ‘letting go’ I am referring to giving up the struggle with OCD. Once you truly begin to accept anxiety on a deeper level you start to realise that you can tolerate it, that you don’t need to perform compulsions to push it away and that in fact, this just makes things worse.
Once you understand this both with the mind and the body, on a thinking and feeling level, then you can start to drop the struggle. You more easily recognise when you have slipped into ‘OCD mode’ and can make a conscious decision to just walk away from the thoughts, without having to resolve anything first.
There’s No Need To Resolve Anything
This is a far cry from how I would deal with OCD in the past. Rather than letting it go, I would do the literal opposite and hold on to it. Looking back I can see that in a way I was addicted to the worry and rumination. It gave me a false sense of control and way to at least do something in response to the anxiety.
By performing compulsions each time I found myself stuck I was not only holding onto the OCD, but pulling it in closer to me. In order to change this, in order to truly ‘let go’ of all this obsessing and compulsing we simply have to start making better choices.
Start Off Small
Start with small ones. Choose one aspect of your OCD that you would like to start working on and make a list of simple exposures you could do that will make you face that fear. Importantly though, start with the easiest things first. Choose something achievable that only gives you a small amount of anxiety and work up from there.
The idea is to face the fear without performing a compulsion to lessen it. This won’t be easy at first, but each time you are successful, you are taking a step towards acceptance and letting go of your fears. The more you can choose to face your fears in this gradual way, the more freedom you will have from them.
It’s A Mindset
Learning to let go of OCD is not easy at first, but with sustained practice of exposure work and learning core skills from acceptance commitment therapy, you learn that it is perhaps not as hard as you first thought.
Like with all things OCD, the mindset is a big part of it. Cultivating a more mindful and accepting approach to OCD will serve you incredibly well.