We all fall short and make our share of mistakes. We are going to make mistakes and we are going to “screw up.” This could be minor mistakes or these could be major mess ups. OCD, depression, anxiety, etc, can seem like more that enough to deal with on a daily basis. Sometimes emotional struggles can increase our guilt about a situation. We may make a mistake and then punish ourselves for days or weeks. Sometimes we really do screw up and it’s better if we own that. We can give an apology if needed. We can try to improve the situation. We can attempt to do better next time. If we are a person of faith, we might pray about the situation. There is nothing we can do obviously to change anything in the past. The 12 step community talks about the concept of living amends. Guilt gives us something to do, but just like overanalyzing or rumination, it usually gets us nowhere. If we have guilt about a situation, let’s get busy continuing to live our lives and do something constructive about our guilt. These may be apologies, amends if possible, truly trying to do better the next time. Sometimes apologies aren’t possible or even helpful depending on if it will cause more harm than good. Let us remember that we are not doing ourselves or anyone else any favors by sitting around simmering in a sea of guilt. We start from where we are, today, trying to do better. Forgiving ourselves can be very difficult but it’s often crucial for our overall mental health. Emotional struggles will also at times put guilt on our minds that doesn’t need to be there, when we have truly not done anything wrong. This is important to be mindful of and to notice when these kind of thoughts or feelings pop up. With OCD and with life, we will never be completely “certain”. I know first hand how difficult this can be when we think we may have said something, “offensive”, or hurt someone’s feelings, etc. OCD can come up with an unlimited list of examples of how we have inflicted harm. When treating OCD, uncertainty is where we want to hang out. Life is uncertain and the irrational OCD bully asks for certainty. It’s best to continue to use our OCD tool box, ERP techniques, ACT techniques, etc, when the OCD or Certainty Police show up. Talking with a therapist can be helpful in these situations.
Let’s try to keep getting back up when life knocks us down, and it will. Whether it’s guilt, fear, anger, anxiety, sadness, or physical pain. Let’s keep moving forward and do something constructive about these struggles. These things are gonna try to occupy us anyway, therefore we have many opportunities to continue to meet them head on. Just like “screwing up” or making mistakes, if we own it and do what we can to make the situation better, we then can have a smoother path so we can live our lives in spite of the struggles.
“It ain’t about how hard you can hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward. – Rocky Balboa