Breaking free from OCD can be quite troublesome when the obsession is accompanied with guilt or shame.
Hold on though…Not all guilt is bad. Right? Guilt causes people to fall in line and properly behave. We’re socialized to feel guilt so that we learn to control our behavior and emotions. If people feel guilt or shame they’ll be less likely to do anything wrong.
We’ve all experienced real or appropriate guilt.
Today at the grocery store I was using the self check-out. I’m proud to say I’ve memorized lots of produce codes. I entered the code 4011 for regular bananas. I was submitting my payment when it suddenly occurred to me that the bananas were organic and therefore I hadn’t paid enough.
This is an example of how guilt stabilizes a society and prevents its citizens from wrongful behavior. If you do something bad then there will be a consequence.
Real or appropriate guilt happens when you’ve mis-behaved. Guilt is the emotional penalty of misconduct.
The problem with OCD is that it generates inappropriate guilt. Nothing bad has to occur in order for you to be overwhelmed with guilt. Guilt adds a whole other dimension to OCD.
When Should You Feel Guilt or Shame?
It’d be so much easier to break free from OCD if you weren’t dealing with so much inappropriate guilt.
When it comes to OCD, you’ve got to become defiant. OCD will tell you what rules to follow. These rules are not reasonable and will take you down the rabbit hole. You must disobey OCD.
To do that, it helps to have your own set of rules to follow no matter what OCD says.
To make it easier, what if there was a Code of Conduct for you to follow? No matter what OCD says, if you follow this Code of Conduct, you don’t pay the emotional penalty of guilt. Maybe it would be something like this:
(Draft Copy) Code of Conduct:
DO NO HARM
- Don’t do to others what you would not want them to do to you.
- Don’t destroy the environment upon which all life depends.
- Don’t do to yourself what you wouldn’t do to others.
- Don’t make decisions for people who can make their own.
- Don’t manipulate and control others.
- Don’t take care of others when they can take care of themselves.
- Do to others what you would like them to do to you.
- Do practice gratitude and express thankfulness.
- Do put the oxygen mask on yourself first; your mental health must come first.
- Do help this needy world through acts of kindness, not fear.
- Do respect a person’s right to self-determination. (A person controls their own life.)
What do you notice about this Code of Conduct?
- Is there a common theme?
- Is there anything missing? Something you think people should pay the penalty of guilt for, but not mentioned here?
- Is there something that doesn’t belong?
- What do you notice about the transfer of responsibility? What are you essentially responsible for? What are other people responsible for?
- If you stick to these rules would it be appropriate or necessary to still pay the emotional penalty of guilt or shame?
Please leave your answers, questions, and comments. As always I will post them anonymously.
This publication is part of a series of posts about OCD and guilt. The next post will be “Guilt Beyond Circumstance: A Different Kind of Guilt.”
If you want me to address a certain question about guilt, be sure to leave me a message.
In addition to your other comments, please share what you hope this series of posts about guilt will accomplish.
Thank you for your comments. They mean so much to me and also help others!