Scrupulosity OCD - Religious Intrusive Thoughts
In this episode, I discuss religious intrusive thoughts and some key things you can do to overcome them. This is the third episode in this series on Scrupulosity OCD. I also discuss different intrusive thoughts people experience such as blasphemous thoughts directed towards God, the church, or religious leaders. I also discuss different compulsions people engage in and how you can tell the difference between religious obsessions and faith-based questions.
All right. Hey everyone and welcome to another episode where we are going to talk about intrusive religious thoughts, right? And so sometimes this is referred to as a, you know, scrupulosity or religious OCD. And in this series on intrusive thoughts. Really I'm, what I'm trying to do is target different types of thoughts that people experience and kind of talk about, you know, case studies and things that I'm, you know, I've had people done that are, that are working through these particular issues. So on today's episode, what we're going to talk about, our intrusive thoughts that are in the religious umbrella of, of and kind of the religious thoughts, categories and what I'm going to talk about specifically our kind of intrusive thoughts about God and what happens sometimes when people are experiencing these thoughts, they'll have what they'll call blasphemous thoughts, right? Or thoughts that are maybe aggressive or violent or you know, just just, um, towards God or towards their church or church, their religion.
And so, you know, um, places that, where they usually go to church become very triggering for them because, you know, they don't want to go in and have these specific thoughts, right? But as I've talked about in this series, when you try not to have a thought, it reinforces the idea and you do compulsions to try not to have thoughts, right? Whether it's thoughts, oppression or you know, thought replacing or avoiding things that trigger that thought. What happens is, is that it reinforces the idea that that thoughts dangerous and then which actually makes your brain populate it more and then which ultimately leads to you doing more compulsions and kind of starts this cycle, right? So some of the thoughts that people with this particular sub theme of OCD might have are, you know, again, violent or maybe even sexual thoughts towards God or a religious figure.
Um, they might have, you know, um, like just blast miss thoughts like insults and stuff like that towards God. And I also kind of want to throw in the theme here of existential obsessions where people will get into this idea of, well, what if God doesn't exist? Or what if I'm, you know, the, what's the meaning of life? And they'll get stuck in these loops, right? And so this is the, the category of thoughts that we're talking about in this episode. And, and again, there's obviously several I didn't mention so, but I, what I, what I want you to look at here is kind of the overall arching theme that I'm talking about. Okay? So when you're, when you're talking about religious obsessions, that first and foremost, the key learning point that I, that I want you to take away, right? There's going to be three points that I want you to take away in this.
I'm in this episode. The first point like I've talked about in the past two episodes, is that this is not a religious problem. Okay? And, and it's so crucial to make that separation because as long as you think that this is a religious problem, then you're going to look for the answers in religious texts. Or, you know, with your pastor or priest and, and that's why, you know, people will go to their pastor, a priest, and they'll ask for that. They'll ask reassurance for the same exact question, right? So maybe even if you are, um, you know, a priest or a pastor, I mean, you'll, you'll, you, I'm sure you've had, um, people coming to you asking you the same thing again and again and again and, and again, people will do things like praying about the situation again and again and again and again.
Right? And that repetitive behavior, right? That's the compulsion that's feeding this fear. K. and so being able to separate this idea from being an OCD and intrusive thought issue to a religious issue, right, is so, so crucial to your success, um, when it comes to overcoming these thoughts. Because as long as you think that it's the thing that OCD is saying, right? And that's, and that's with anything, right? So someone who has contamination, OCD, we have to really ingrained the idea that this isn't a germ problem or it's not an AIDS problem, right? It's an OCD issue. And the same with harmful obsessions or sexual obsessions or hit and run OCT, right? It doesn't matter the, what OCD saying what, what the problem is, is that you're listening to OCT and that you're doing what it says in you're feeding it by doing compulsion's. Right?
So separating that is the really the first key to success in, in just committing to the idea that, Hey, look, this is an OCD issue. It's an anxiety issue and we need to treat it as such. Okay. The second thing that I want to bring up is this idea of love versus fear. And so I was talking with a client about this and again, you know, I've, um, was, um, talking about my own beliefs, right? My own struggle with OCD. And I remember I had those intrusive thoughts about, um, getting possessed, right? And that was one of my big themes with those study when I was really struggling and I had this fear of, well, what if I get possessed? What if I get possessed? Right? And I would do all these religious compulsions to try not to get possessed, right? That, that, that was my goal.
And, and I thought what I was doing was protecting myself. And, um, you know, the thing is, is that after I got better and I realized this was OCD, I was really resentful at the idea of, you know, church and, and God and religion because I was like, well, all these things I was doing was actually making me sick. And what happens with people is, is, is that they can, you know, have like a mixed feeling on, um, on God or religion after they actually get treatment for OCD. And what I kind of realized was that it was never about God in the first place, right? It was never about religion or anything like that. It was just about fear. And one of the things that I always, um, you know, we'll talk with clients about that have these specific themes is they'll come in and they'll be like, well, you know, am I gonna, you know, is God gonna send me to hell or is this going to happen?
Right? And it's all these doubts and fears. And you know, now that, you know, I'm, I'm pretty far removed from it and been out and been in recovery for a while and again, and I have my own, you know, beliefs as well, and I've maintained my beliefs. Um, the thing is, is that I, I will always revert back to the idea of looking at God as in, uh, in, in, in a light of love as opposed to fear, right? And what I mean by that is, is that if God, if we look at God as like a father, right? In a father figure, right? No father wants their children to be living in fear and um, and terror of them, right? And so if you're living in fear and terror, and because of OCD and you're, you're wrestling with these scrupulosity thoughts, um, you know, and you're, and you're doing these religious compulsions, you have to, you have to realize that, that, that fear and love can't exist simultaneously, right?
If you are, if you really love someone, you don't do things for them because you're afraid of them, you do them because you love them, right? So if I am, you know, for instance, with like my wife, right? I don't, I don't help around, you know, or like if I don't take care of dishes after she makes dinner because I'm afraid of her, I do it because I love her, right? And I, and I want to, I want to help her. Right? And, and in the same light, to have a good relationship with God, you can't be afraid of God. Right? You, you have in the same light. I don't, you know, I really don't believe that he wants you to be afraid, right? And that he is, you know, has your best interest and actually wants good things for you. Right? And, and choosing to adopt that belief will help separate that idea of fear from the issue.
You know what I mean? And so hopefully what I'm saying is making sense, because if we look at God as a loving God as opposed to a, a dangerous God, well then we know that us acting out of fear all the time isn't what he would want. Right? And that's what I don't believe that he would want. And again, I don't want to get too in depth on the beliefs here, but just being able to separate that from a, you know, practical perspective, right? Because most of the people that obviously have these thoughts do hold their religious beliefs, right? And they get, it gets confusing because they say, well, you know, you're telling me not to pray, but that's my religion. And yes, that's true. But when you're praying out of fear all the time and you're doing it repetitively, then it becomes an OCD issue, right?
And it actually has nothing to do with your religion because you're operating out of fear and anxiety. And so shifting it to operating out of love and doing things out of love versus fear is, is going to be a big part of the recovery process as well as, and it will help dictate why you're doing something right. Because a lot of people will hide behind religious routines and religious compulsions and say that they're being a good religious person when really they're just doing it out of fear. And I think making that separation was really big for me in, in shifting into a love mindset versus a fear mindset. Um, and, and what's driving your behavior? And so hopefully that, that concept makes sense and that, and that really is, um, that idea of viewing how you view God, right? Do you view God as a loving God or in one that is, you know, fear and, and you know, and in least in my personal belief that is that that shift of viewing God as a loving father and realizing, well, you know, he probably doesn't want me spending my whole life just obsessing about getting possessed, right?
That that's, that's not what God wants, right? Because he's a loving father. So shifting that view right there really helped, um, me on my own recovery and, and then again, realizing that it wasn't a religious problem all along. So it's not uncommon for people to get resentful at, you know, religion and church, especially if you've been stuck in this for a long time. And I think separating those two things is, is just so important to your recovery, right? If this is, if this, if you deal with these types of intrusive thoughts of religious intrusive thoughts, um, or ex existential obsessions or things like that, separating them between, Hey, you know, this is your belief system and this is OCD is going to be just crucial to your, your success, right? And so realizing that it's an OCD issue and it always has been an OCD issue again is what will help you be successful in your recovery.
And again, what you do with the thoughts on a moment by moment basis is ultimately gonna dictate how, how you're successful. And again, as we continue on this intrusive thought theme, um, I'm going to, you know, introduce more and more, um, tips and techniques, right? But obviously not arguing and not fighting with the thoughts is really the crucial part, right? Is really being willing to accept their presence and not react to them like they're a threat. That is really what is going to break you out of that loop, right? As long as we don't do those compulsions, right, mental or physical, that's what's going to break that OCD loop and ultimately allow you to see whatever you're afraid of from a more objective perspective and allow you to ultimately react to it how, you know, everyone else would react to it. Right? And that's, and that really is the most hopeful part about OCD treatment that I want to, um, you know, talk about here is the idea that you can recover, right?
Your, your brain can literally rewire if you do the treatment correctly. Um, you know, and, and eliminate those compulsion's habituated the fear and you'll begin to see things outside of that lens of OCD. So hopefully, um, you know, that that was helpful today. So do you know, just to quickly summarize, you know, in today's episode we're talking about those intrusive religious thoughts and again, realizing that it's not a religious problem and separate and kind of shifting how you view God. You know, whoever you believe that to be specifically. Cause, obviously it's going to come in many forms, but how you view God and viewing God in fear versus love is going to ultimately show you how you're actually acting. And are you acting in a faith based or anF or in a fear base. Right. And if you're acting in a fear based, then chances are it is an OCD or fear problem.
And so, um, so again, hopefully that was helpful and uh, you know, just a, you know, to quickly help us, um, we, if you, if you found this helpful, please subscribe. Like, and uh, you know, comment, let us know. Um, any, any video, any, any episodes that you want us to make in the future, um, that might be helpful. We also have some free resources available for you. Um, if you are struggling with this. So down in the notes below you'll see some links. We have things like free guides, free assessments, um, you know, stuff like that to help you on your journey. So please check that out just by clicking the links down in the notes. So thank you so much for, uh, taking the time to be with us today, and I hope you guys have a wonderful week. Take care.