Religious Obsessions - Scrupulosity - What if I offend God
In this episode, I continue discussing intrusive thoughts under the umbrella category of scrupulosity or religious OCD. In this second part of this series, I discuss specific intrusive thoughts related to fears about offending God, worrying about whether or not you committed a sin, and worrying if something was immoral. I also discuss different compulsions people engage in and important steps in the treatment process.
All right. Hey there everyone, and welcome to a new episode where we're going to talk about religious obsessions and specifically the fear of offending God. And so in this episode, this is a continuation on our series on intrusive thoughts. And specifically, you know, generally speaking, we're talking about OCD, but this can be any form of anxiety, right? Um, but with OCD, what happens is people get, you know, these intrusive thoughts that happen, right? And they know their, their ego dystonic, right? They know they're not thoughts that are logical, but their thoughts that kind of get stuck in this loop again and again and again. And in this episode, what I want to talk about is, are, are, are these thoughts of these religious obsessions but the subcategory of thoughts that are this thought of, you know, what if I offend God and if something in that context, what if I upset God?
What if I offend God? What if I did something that God thinks is bad? You know, and, and it's kind of this, um, you know, hyper morality type of thoughts, right? And so these will be things and you know, it can be as simple as like someone hugs, uh, another person in, they're like, well, did I commit adultery in the eyes of, of God? Right? Or did, um, you know, and, and there are all these doubting thoughts around that concept. Okay. So that's, that's what this episode's about. It's about that overall arching concept of what if I offended God? And so when, when I'm working with someone with these types of obsessions, um, again, just as in the, in the, in the previous episode, it's so crucial to understand that this, this isn't a religious or offending God problem, right? And making that distinction is so crucial, right?
Because again, you know what, what happens is you end up going back and forth with people, you know, to the, to the nth degree, and they'll, they'll recite specific religious scripture that will support what they think. And again, what's happening is, is they're in that fear lens there in that OCD anxiety lens. So they're, their senses are very heightened in their hyper aware and, um, they're, they're just not seeing things clearly. Right? So part of treatment is getting people out of that lens and so that they can look at the problem of objectively without this big emotional component. Because that's what's really happening is these thoughts are appearing kind of in their conscious awareness and they're causing such a high emotional spike that they, they are ultimately seeking answers to bring down that emotional spike, right? And, and the, they believe that the, the fact that they have this huge emotional attachment to this thought validates that it must be real.
Okay. And that's generally the problem when it comes to facing these thoughts. So, you know, oftentimes I've heard of people that are like, they'll go and get reassurance, right? So let's talk about some of the compulsions that people will do, right? Because again, we have the four components that we look for with the, um, with the OCD loop of you have the thought, right? Which she intrusive thought. Do you have the emotional or affective component where you have the anxiety spike or the doubt spike? And then you have the compulsive behavior that generates the fourth part, which is the relief, right? And so with compulsion's, there'll be really tricky because people will do things like pray, right? And so it's like they'll get afraid of, Oh my gosh, I offended God. So they have to pray because they think if they don't pray that they'll go to hell or you know, this and that.
Right? And our, you know, there'll be consequences. And so the prayer will give them relief temporarily, but then they'll have the thought again. And so if I'm working with someone with this, it really is about distinguishing whether it's a, you know, a religious problem or a God problem or a OCD and anxiety problem. And if the person's been praying about the same thing again and again and again and again and again, well then that kind of shows that it's an OCD problem, right? And then we'll also do things. So let's, um, you know, some other common compulsion's can be asking for reassurance from, um, their Reno religious leaders or pastors or priests, um, things like that from church. And they'll go to that person and they'll confess their sins, or they'll ask for reassurance. Like, are you sure I didn't offend God? And then you know, someone will, you know, eventually reassure them that no, they're okay, but then they'll ask again and again and again and again and again.
That's really what we want to look for is that pattern, that loop, right? Because if someone's asking for this reassurance on the same topic repetitively, then at at that, at when that's like our key determining factor that it's, it's not a religious problem at that point it's an OCD problem. Right? And if it's an OCD problem, we have to treat it like an OCD problem. Right? And in, in the same light of, you know, what if I, you know, get possessed and things like that. If, if it's something that's gone on for several, even weeks or months or sometimes even days, but definitely in that weeks or months range, then we kind of know that this is an OCD issue. Right? And and separating that is, is crucial. So then the treatment or you know, ultimately working with this person becomes the same, same process, right? It becomes the idea of identifying the obsession, right?
So in this case, you know, what if I offended God, what if I did something that upset God? That what if thought, that's that Lewer that I talked about, right? That's, that lure, that you know, the, those cities or anxieties thrown out there and saying, Oh my gosh, what if this right? And as soon as you bite on that lure and you engage in it and you do compulsion's will that, you know, again, showing that that, that Lewer works. So it just keeps producing that thought again and again and again. So what we need to do is we need to remove the compulsive behaviors. And so we need to identify all the compulsion's that are, that are taking place, whether it's asking for reassurance, whether it's silently praying in your head, whether it's reading, religious texts, whether it's avoiding certain things, um, you know, because, because it's related to that specific fear.
So in this instance, right, um, you know, if someone was afraid of, let's say, let's say they, you know, wore a dress, right? I mean, I remember I worked with someone, um, that, that had this, uh, obsession. And, and it was this lady that was worried that she wore a dress and God might, you have thought it was too provocative. Right? And it was something that happened and she never wore it again. And um, you know, and then sh so, so part of the treatment was actually like having her like put on the dress at, in her home. Right? And sitting with that anxiety and uncertainty. Um, you know, because part of it was, is this idea of actually experiencing and doing the things that to, to trigger up the OCD because again, this isn't a gut. Once we separate that idea that this isn't a God or religion problem, right?
And that's not what we're actually dealing with. Are you dealing with an OCD thing? Then we have to actually do the exposures and remove the compulsion to allow that anxiety to surface and to ultimately habituate the anxiety. Right? Cause once we're able to have bitchy weight, the anxiety that removes the emotional component out of the situation and you can view the problem in a much more logical or you know, kind of, um, you know, common sense approach. But as long as there's that heightened anxiety there, then, um, you know, then it's always going to be confusing and they're going to be in that kind of distorted lens. And that's the hard part about treating with, with religious obsessions is people will say, well, I need to pray because, you know, I, it's part of my religion. And, and so again, like I'll, I'll never forbid someone for praying or something like that, but it's what are you praying about if you're praying about something that you've been praying about and praying about and praying about in a fear, in a fear and anxiety basis, and that's relieving the anxiety temporarily, but then it keeps coming back.
Well, we know that that's, that's actually turned into a compulsive behavior, right? And it's not that prayer's bad, it's just this idea that we're using prayer in a compulsive way, right? Because we can use anything in a compulsive way. And if we do that, or if we're going to the same pastor and asking for reassurance every single day or every single week, and you're asking and asking, asking that again, that's a compulsion problem. Right? And, and again, I know that this is, this can be confusing and it definitely is on a case by case basis. You need to, you need to kind of assess what the compulsion's are. But the, again, the main part of, of treating these kinds of thoughts of, well, you know, what if I offended God is first assessing what kind of problem is this? Is this actually an, you know, a of an offense to God or a sin problem or all that.
And once we can determine that it's an OCD and anxiety problem because it's something that's just a looped again and again and again. Well then we have to look at it like an OCD problem only. We can't blend the two. We have to say this is an OCD problem. And now that we know it's an OCD problem, we have to remove the compulsions. So the anxiety goes down. And then once the anxiety goes down, that will allow you to, you know, see the situation much more clearly. So I'm, you know, again, hopefully that's, uh, that that provides some clarity on these, uh, specific obsessions for this episode. And again, I'm going to continue on these, um, religious, um, obsessions as we, as we continue in the series because I'm, you know, again, they're very common and, and they get, they, they, these lines get very blurred.
And so I'm trying to, you know, again, provide some clarity. Um, you know, if there's something that you're struggling with to kind of send you in the right direction, because what happens a lot of times as people look for the answers in their church or you know, with their pastor or in the Bible and you know, again, they're, they're looking for the answer for the problem of anxiety and OCD. Essentially. They're, they're looking for that, just that reassurance. They're not actually looking for the answer. They're looking for that thing that provides them that temporary comfort. And again, that just reinforces the fear, which reinforces the OCD. So again, um, yeah, hopefully you found this, uh, episode helpful in a, again, to support us please, uh, you know, like, and subscribe, um, you know, comment below and, uh, and give us any feedback of, of, you know, questions or things that you want us to address in future episodes. And again, please follow us on all our social channels. We really appreciate the support and the discussion and there's some free resources below, um, that you can take advantage of right down in the notes. Um, you know, where we have some free guides, free assessments, things like that, um, to help you on your journey. So thank you so much for taking the time to hang out with this as this week and we will see you on the next episode where we're going to continue on intrusive thoughts. All right, thanks so much.