This belief betrays a poor understanding of the nature of certainty and how it differs from confidence. By letting go of resistance to uncertainty, you free yourself up to act like a person who thinks things will work out fine. Obsessive-compulsive disorder is often dubbed “the doubting disease” because it makes you second-guess yourself.And uncertainty about life can make my anxiety skyrocket. The OCD may say, “This is evidence that you are gay.” The urge to compulsively neutralize that by saying “No, I know I’m not gay and this is just an exciting scene in the movie” may be very strong. Certainty is an illusion, an assessment that events (e.g. What if there is disease-causing bacteria on my hands? You’ll start believing what you say when you consistently act as though what the OCD is saying doesn’t matter (while not doing rituals), allowing your brain to accept the uncertainty of the situation. And most people with OCD do in fact have some overt compulsions such as these. Not having a good relationship feels like the worst thing to me so naturally my OCD attacks it. It’s all OCD. I work at … They are the behaviors that send the message to the brain, “warning: confidence is lacking.” We must accept uncertainty about all things, not because all things are likely or even worth any attention at all, but because certainty does not exist. At this point in time I am only on a minimal dose of medication and feel that I could be off medication. There is only confidence. It means only that investing in something unattainable is less helpful than investing in the present moment and in your values. Alright, let’s get down to how we can go about accepting this uncertainty. More likely it is a reflection of the intensity and the fine detail with which they care about the things they care about and are aware of the ways in which these things could be harmed. The aim is to live as if this is already understood and no math is required. One in a 100 trillion is an uncertainty. It was like a blessing to me. I was feeling ashamed of the thoughts that I had in my head. The anxiety had reached an all time high and 2 weeks later I started having harm thoughts. Still, chemicals may respond unpredictably if me observing them affects their behavior somehow. I am going to look into the book you recommend. I also read through the OCD workbook mainly on the topics of ACT and ERP. I am a medical doctor and have had issues with anxiety probably for the past 20 years. I didn’t know I had OCD at that time. Compulsions are designed to increase certainty about these unwanted outcomes. Which all were making me worse. Stu, Hello She works with clients across the lifespan to help them embrace uncertainty, change their relationship with anxiety and move toward living a life worth living. When demanding certainty and predictability ,our attention is very future-focused as our mind worries in an attempt to gain certainty. The foundation’s resources and experiences reach over three million sufferers each year. Thoughts. It’s a lot less daunting if you think of it all as OCD, and remember no matter where your OCD pops up it’s the same beast you’re fighting. However, accepting that your OCD could be right does not preclude assuming that it isn’t. By registering, you'll gain access to inspiring stories, important educational information, ongoing live content, volunteer opportunities and more. Posted 2020-03-24. A key part of accepting uncertainty is knowing that you WILL find some way of coping if your worst fears really do come true. I too suffer from intrusive thoughts! Go see your doctor or a CBT therapist they will be able to help . Rather than 1 out of 2, it can also be looked at as 1 in some number so big that to attempt its calculation would be an inefficient use of our finite time on Earth. Except that I have not carefully examined all people who have lived and live no more. I am confident that if I tell my wife I love her, she will reply with the same or something similar. Posted by: Anon Posted on September 22, 2016 May 18, 2020 Posted in: ACT, Anxiety, Harm OCD, Intrusive Thoughts, What If. Mostly we use the word certainty interchangeably with the word “confidence”. Since this effort never really works in the end, either because the compulsions intensify the obsessions by validating their existence or because the compulsions ultimately feel unsatisfying when the truth can’t be locked down, the thinker is left with only one option – accept uncertainty that the feared concept could be true. You might also be certain about particular chemical reactions, that if you make two molecules interact, there may be some predictable response 100% of the time (I’m going to assume Neil deGrasse Tyson won’t be reading this and that if I am wrong, the larger message still holds true that some things may get close to being certain). I began my own research on the internet and came across the book “The mindfulness workbook for OCD” and also the “OCD workbook”. A person without OCD might have the same thought very quietly or not even be aware of a thought like that formulating unless their attention was drawn to it, so treating it like nonsense is easy. I really liked the mindfulness workbook and read it few times to learn the concepts and start applying them. Failure to do the OCD’s bidding results in anxiety, disgust, or some other unwanted internal state, often coupled with vivid mental storylines of brutal consequences. Accepting uncertainty. To say these things is not to say that I believe these concerns are as likely to be true as a flip of the coin. I hope you’re feeling better! Uncertainty is simply the absence of certainty, which is a state you are already in. I read a study recently which speculated that people with Relationship OCD tend to get a lot of their self worth from their relationships. Fred Penzel, Ph.D., is a licensed psychologist who has specialized in the treatment of OCD and related disorders since 1982. Maybe/Maybe Not “Maybe I made a helpful decision, maybe I didn’t.” “Maybe I will get sick, maybe I won’t.” The Blessing Of Accepting Uncertainty In OCD. I’m fighting to accept uncertainty. In order to cope with this uncertainty, we must accept that there is no 100% certain answer to this question. Rather than it having to be a net negative experience, it can be a freeing one. What it means is you have abandoned the mandate to determine what the odds are in the first place. Letting go of your need for certainty and accepting uncertainty as being an inevitable part of life, can be easier said than done. I was feeling ashamed because I am a doctor and I had tons of intrusive violent images, I was getting scared with thoughts like: “What if I do that? I prioritize staying connected over ‘informed’ This is probably the hardest on the list for me. Why the OCD Community Holds the Key to Coping with COVID-19 Anxiety. And I didn’t know how to tell my psychiatrist. I have been scouring the internet to see if I can find anything similar to what I am going thru. OCD seems monstrously overwhelming, but in reality, it only has two main weapons: doubt and guilt. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) » Accepting uncertainty with relationship/morality OCD; Forum home New posts My favourite threads Community Achievements Creative community Community stories. I feel recovered from my OCD. For example, a person with OCD may think about the possibility of a sinkhole suddenly appearing beneath them and just write it off as nonsense. She may or may not reply the same next time, but I assume so strongly that she will, I can’t bring myself to analyze the reasons why she would not. I noticed a significant improvement with doing my own ERP. This allows for the understanding that the possibility may be so low, that I can treat it with such disinterest such that I refuse to even analyze how low the possibility is. It disturbs me so much I literally feel sick to my stomach. Because I was feeling miserable and I wanted to get help I gathered all of my strength and talked to my wife and one of my friends, who encouraged me to talk to my psychiatrist. I began to figure out how my intolerance to uncertainty has lead me to my OCD and how it has been controlling my life. By Laura Joseph. So even as the OCD stretches as far as it can into the grotesque, the sinful, or the horrifying depths of your mind, it is still simply trying to con you with the idea that it’s found the one exception to the rule. More succinctly, the OCD sufferer may be less willing to view the issue as a simple matter and may find more issues to be uncertain about. “For some people the idea of accepting the discomfort of uncertainty is anathema, and they may resist the very idea of attempting such a thing,” Corboy said. uncertainty, or alternatively, to learn to accept the impossibility of ever obtaining absolute certainty. Join our newsletter list to receive weekly emails about the latest podcast episode, OCD news from around the community, competitions, events and much more. When confidence is absent, we can find it by engaging in the behaviors of confident people, not by certainty-seeking. That is what lead to my diagnosis of OCD. There is no getting around this, no matter how absurd or irrational (or abhorrent) the fear may appear to you. Bothered by OCD’s Uncertainty Trap. A person with OCD in the same scenario may conceptualize hygiene as a function of social responsibility and connect it to the safety of others and the determination of their morality and thus, may be consciously grappling with whether or not e. coli has gotten on the hands, what the probability and specific health consequences are of e. coli getting from their hands to another person would be, and what the philosophical ramifications would be to a person who was indifferent to this harm. Though it would break my heart if she ceased to reciprocate my love, I can envision a life in which I cope with and even tolerate living with a broken heart. It doesn’t mean everything you care about hinges on the flip of a coin. There is a myth that OCD promotes in the mind that you don’t deserve to be happy; that if you’re happy, it must be the result of not paying enough attention to something important. Fred Penzel, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist who has specialized in the treatment of OCD and related disorders since 1982. The OCD makes it seem as if the content of your specific obsession is the one thing a person should never have to accept uncertainty about. With OCD treatment, a change in belief about the OCD content tends to follow a change in action. The number this is out of can be as high as you want. Danielle Henderson. A cognitive behavioral approach would be to accept uncertainty that maybe the reaction to the movie is a sign of some sexual orientation confusion. Real Stories That Educate & Inspire Those With OCD. For those with morality-themed obsessions, this means assuming you are good instead of trying to prove it to your OCD. Though exposure is scary and often painful, learning to accept uncertainty about obsessions need not be viewed as a form of defeat. My anxiety went through the roof about 2 and a half years ago and I began experiencing panic attacks. In my clinical practice and in the online support groups I contribute to, I often encounter people who are repeatedly telling themselves incredibly negative things about reality assuming that this is the only way to do exposure. Posted 2018-02-13. The simplest, or perhaps the most all-encompassing conceptualization of OCD is to understand it as a deficit in uncertainty tolerance. I had my daughter 1 year ago. We try to get certainty because we want to escape the groundlessness of uncertainty. Like, I don't have 110% certainty that I won't stab someone, but I don't struggle w harm-ocd, so I don't have that unanswerable doubt. OCD is indeed a ruthless taskmaster, but it isn’t a legitimate one. I had lots of harm and violence related images. We are a nonprofit and do not sell your personal data to third parties. But I may not. It is actually the greatest exposure, so long as it includes the willingness to be wrong. Accepting uncertainty does not mean accepting that there is a “1 out of 2” shot that your fear could be true. 01 Jon is the Director of The OCD and Anxiety Center of Greater Baltimore and a specialist in the treatment of OCD and related disorders.. 02 In this article, he explains common misconceptions about what accepting uncertainty in OCD really means. Sorry to hear you are having a tough time, it gets better. I have a past with mental health of depression and anxiety which I over came in my teens. This is the goal of OCD treatment — to be able to extend an ability you have in most areas of your life into the domain that OCD … However, for many with OCD, especially those struggling with any of the Pure O variants, their response to their obsessions is more likely to be in the f… When most people think of the compulsions experienced by those with OCD, they think of the stereotypical hand washing or door checking seen in Hollywood films like The Aviator or As Good As It Gets. My thoughts were true compassion for child abuse however I can’t solve the world’s problem I would obsessed for hours on end. Hope that helps. Dr Jonathan Grayson – OCD Recovery, Uncertainty and Virtual Camping. This summer I came across The OCD Stories podcast and I noticed on one of the interviews the interviewee saying how we should be accepting uncertainty. Where they can benefit from this in treatment is learning how to generalize this skill to apply to specific obsessions, instead of only to the plethora of other thoughts on the radar. I was a mess. People with OCD are trained to thrive during a pandemic, but not in the way you think. Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) can sometimes hit you where it matters most. Here I will discuss a few common mistaken beliefs about what it means to accept uncertainty: Obsessions often begin with the words “what if” and follow with some description of an event the thinker finds intolerable. Posted Oct 29, 2009 The Uncertainty Paradox The Secret Key to OCD Treatment AND Confronting Doubt . Intolerance of uncertainty (IU) was first described in individuals suffering from Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). Also worth reaching out to the OCD charity iocdf.org as they will be able to share with you on the science and recommendations for people with OCD. d. To help them accept this, their OCD is explained from a point of view consistent with their experience. Harm reduction drug education for today's teens, teachers and parents, Helping college athletes balance school, sports & mental wellbeing, Helping parents understand and manage their child's anxiety problems, Real mothers share their experiences with post-partum OCD, Tips for preserving wellbeing in a digital world, Live streamed chats with leading doctors and therapists, An introduction to Exposure and Response Prevention Therapy for OCD, Engaging Q&A hours with outspoken leaders in the community, Personal stories from across the mental health spectrum, It's time to talk about mental health at work, Modern issues, faces and stories about mental health, How ACT can be used as a tool against OCD, Investigating the intersections of mental health and art, The importance of emotional health in the fight for change, An intro to EMDR Therapy with Jackie Shapin, LMFT. I went to my doc who then prescribed me an antidepressant (for pnd as this was apparently normal)!? If you assume your fears are untrue and engaging in behaviors that reflect this, while still allowing for the possibility that you are wrong (and hence, necessarily accepting uncertainty), you can allow yourself to enjoy the experience on your own terms. Acknowledging that your fears could be true does not mean admitting your fears are likely or reasonable. Fair enough I began medication and therapy. Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) doubt and uncertainty is something I've struggled with since I was a young child. I need to live with doubt that it may or may not be true and I will never be sure if it is true. It is only when the focus of attention is on a particular obsession (the focus of their OCD) that people with OCD struggle to accept uncertainty. But a person with OCD who thinks about the sinkhole and also has an obsession with dying in a sinkhole, would be more resistant to writing it off as nonsense. You can read more from Jon here. You make an exception for your obsession because the disorder itself creates an illusion that this content must be made certain. It doesn’t mean everything you care about hinges on the flip of a coin. The mantra we learn from CBT or widely suggested in different OCD forums is accept uncertainty. Accepting that life without risk cannot exist allows you to move forward and engage with the world around you, rather than being stuck in an endless cycle of obsessions and compulsions. Enemy Of The Good: Accepting OCD in a Pandemic World. Thanks for sharing. At some point we say, “Good enough, I’m calling it, the sky is blue.”. But that’s a trap. is heightened by a mistaken belief that accepting uncertainty must mean accepting some meaningful level of probability. 03 The challenging and rewarding work of learning to live with uncertainty can help you find value in … There’s a chance that it could be anxiety, OCD, some combination of the two, or none of the above. Assuming everything will be fine is not a compulsion. I discuss some ways […] Read more . I thought that I probably just belonged in jail. Learning to accept uncertainty about obsessions should not be viewed as a form of defeat. 02 Therefore, the It doesn’t have to be framed that way. I have no history of mental illness or anything like this ever happening . Improving your ability to open up to, accept, or even embrace uncertainty in the face of OCD is essential to getting mastery of the disorder. So we may get close, but certainty is still not a thing. Confidence is a feeling. However, given that OCD sufferers often see things in finer detail and become aware of what others might consider “fringe” thoughts that don’t demand attention for others, consider that OCD sufferers feel like they experience more ideas that require one to be uncertain about. In other words, OCD sufferers are uncertainty-accepting pros. For me, this meant having obsessive thoughts of uncertainty about my relationship. Yes, it might not be the specific type of uncertainty that you’re typically tormented by — but it shows that you can accept possibilities without needing to know for sure. Steve Jobs got fired from Apple in a very humiliating and public way, but he picked himself up, set up another incredible company, and was eventually asked to come back and save Apple. People going through OCD treatment often make themselves unnecessarily unhappy by interpreting uncertainty acceptance as a mandate to assume the worst and then dwell on it. Jon is the Director of The OCD and Anxiety Center of Greater Baltimore and a specialist in the treatment of OCD and related disorders. What if I harm someone?”. 28 November 2019 - 12:26. What if I snap and harm a loved one? But this need not be looked at as an intolerable burden or a recipe for misery. Resistance to accepting uncertainty about things that seem unacceptable (e.g. Recognize you have the skills to handle the current uncertainty, too. This issue may be best exemplified by the OCD sufferer who becomes aware of the thought that he/she might have harmed someone in the past and then meticulously reviews his/her memories to get a sense that the harm could not have taken place. In this article, he explains common misconceptions about what accepting uncertainty in OCD really means. As my doc thinks I have anxiety ocd and depression from all meds. This does not mean they have a general deficit in this area. As I write this, I am accepting the possibility, however small, that my computer is emitting some kind of toxic substance that may be giving me some kind of health issue. Fast forward to now, now I get intrusive thoughts of suicide and “what if I do it?” I don’t want to die or act on these!! It wasn’t until 2 and half years ago that those harm related images popped up. This would probably look something like remaining focused on the film, taking another handful of popcorn, and staying out of the debate altogether. So truly, OCD sufferers are spending significantly more time accepting uncertainty, and doing it well, than people who aren’t noticing the things we have to accept uncertainty about. Accepting uncertainty simply means going with the flow and trusting your initial instinct as to the correct choice to make in responding to any situation. People with OCD may have a deficit in tolerating in some ways. It’s impossible to know.” For me, adding the concept of uncertainty into … The closest thing to a certainty might be that we all die. When religious and faithful individuals are told that the unremitting thoughts that they are trying to get rid of are due to their OCD, they have difficulty accepting it. I am a 35 year old RN. There is only confidence and assumptions. I think that OCD creates that doubt. This is not done by repeatedly making self-reassuring statements (as in, “I assume I am straight”), but by simply responding to the increased heart rate as if it were not a threat. Posted in: Podcast. I am awaiting on my assessment to diagnose me properly. You accept uncertainty in the best way you know how, using whatever therapeutic tools you’ve acquired, and those moles lose their power over you. A Strange Thing to Talk About: My Life with OCD. We're building a global network of advocates & experts. By signing up, you agree to Made of Millions Foundations’ Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. I have always had anxiety and some degree of OCD but never any harm In this article, I’ll share with you why our ruminative cycles and desire for absolute certainty are ultimately vain endeavors. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), specifically Exposure Response Prevention (ERP) Therapy , not only helps sufferers face their fears, but also gives them the tools needed to learn to live with uncertainty. The phrase "accepting uncertainty" is one you find bandied about by quite a few psychologists re: OCD – in terms of H-OCD, one of the most influential articles by Dr Phillipson (linked to on the front page) put great emphasis on it. They would then wash in a manner that ensured confidence that every millimeter of skin on and around the hands had come in contact with soap and the right kind of warm water that had not been additionally contaminated by any contact with the sink or faucet. For people with OCD who experience intrusive thoughts about being pedophiles, murderers, banished to an eternal hellfire, or responsible for the untimely death of innocent people, they may struggle to envision a world in which they cope with these outcomes. In episode 45 of The OCD Stories podcast I … triggers) and responses to those events in the universe can remain constant. harm to a child, violating religious laws, burning down your house, etc.) He has previous experience as the Associate Director of the UCLA Pediatric OCD Intensive Outpatient Program and as a Psychotherapist for the OCD Center of Los Angeles. You deal with them the same way. ... You willingly accept that uncertainty without even thinking about it! Etc. I gradually became to feel more and more open to uncertainty and that is where ACT is playing its great role for me. Made of Millions Foundation is a global advocacy nonprofit on a mission to change how the world perceives mental health. For example, a person without OCD may value hygiene and wash his/her hands after touching a public toilet handle. As long as you leave space for being wrong, you are accepting uncertainty even when you are framing things positively. I may say that I am certain because I feel confident, but I am in fact not certain. Uncertainty is simply the absence of certainty, which is a state you are already in. How did you get on with those medications. However, a limited understanding of what it means to truly accept uncertainty can lead OCD sufferers (and their therapists) toward ineffective interventions and even additional suffering. I was started on a medication- clomipramine. MADE OF MILLIONS FOUNDATION, CANADA. And that people w/o OCD are able to accept uncertainty, in part because they don't have that doubt. So I am too also trying the same tablets as you (Anafranil) could you tell me, did they help? And a little after she was born I had thoughts I didn’t want her. About a month ago I had a series of 2 panic attacks. In retrospect I think I have had OCD my entire life, and it was related mostly to checking repeatedly if I locked the door, turned off the oven or the lights in the house. I recommend speaking with your doctor about your medication questions, as medication affects people differently. And compulsions are the very thing that deplete confidence. What if the faucet isn’t closed all the way and my home floods while I’m at work? Once I learned this concept, I started incorporating uncertainty into all my exposure and response prevention exercises. Using the above examples, a person might wash his/her hands, avoid being around knives, or go back home to check that the faucet is indeed closed. Jon Hershfield is the Director of The OCD and Anxiety Center of Greater Baltimore and a specialist in the treatment of OCD and related disorders. Demanding certainty can be a frustrating experience because we can NEVER do enough to be 100% certain. This gets translated as a reason to commit to compulsive behavior because they simply have to, because there appears to them to be no way uncertainty about this issue could be tolerated. My OCD gradually quietened down and began to be just part of me but not controlling me. For example, for one of my contamination exposures I changed what I was saying to myself during the exposure from “I’m probably going to get some dread disease and die because I just ate off the floor,” to the more uncertainty-friendly, “I may get some dread disease and die because I just ate off the floor. So this we can be certain of. Information about accepting uncertainty, including questions to challenge intolerance of uncertainty, and steps to facilitate acceptance and mindfulness. 01 I was beginning to feel disgusted with myself for having such thoughts and images in my head. Well fast forward about 3 month ago anxiety HIT me like a ton of bricks. They notice what others don’t and they allow things to be as they are more often than not. Improving your ability to open up to, accept, or even embrace uncertainty in the face of OCD is essential to getting mastery of the disorder. All people who have once lived and live no more, have died. A Canadian Non-Profit Organization. You have to be willing to embrace the unknown and to feel all the queasy, uneasy feelings that come along with that. While OCD is an extreme aspect of worry, as leaders we must learn to live with uncertainty, and model this for others. The goal of treatment is to learn to accept uncertainty, habituate to anxiety, and move forward despite not having perfect clarity about the situation. Embracing this difference between the feeling of confidence and the state of certainty is easy when the consequences seem tolerable. I wanted to get help but I didn’t know how to describe what I was feeling inside. © MADE OF MILLIONS FOUNDATION 2021. I am further accepting that, merely by attending to writing this, I may be failing to attend to a more important matter, such as whether I may have committed some kind of crime earlier in the day. Those who are anything but new to the diagnosis, who have seen any therapist remotely acquainted with it, are likely to have heard, “Well, you will have to accept the uncertainty that your fear may be true in order to overcome it.”. In episode 57 of the podcast I talk about how living with uncertainty can help you overcome OCD. I am confident because this interaction has been repeated multiple times. One of the best ways for those with obsessive compulsive disorder to learn to deal with these challenges is through therapy. Queasy, uneasy feelings that come along with that future-focused as our mind in! Ocd attacks it have some overt compulsions such as these we say, “ good enough, I ’ at... Level greater than absolute zero really means medication and feel that I had in head. 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