July 23, 2020

What on Earth Is Moral OCD? (Matt Mintz, C. Ht., CAADC-I)

Have you every heard of Scrupulosity? It is a form of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder that I prefer to call Moral OCD. You may not have heard the term, but there’s a good chance you’re familiar with some of its symptoms. Read on and find out!

Moral OCD traits are something many spiritual people have to deal with. How often do you…?

  • Agonize over your decisions
  • Take life too seriously
  • Skip much-needed rest
  • Have to manage guilt over imperfections other people just consider a normal part of being human
  • Feel like you should be giving more and working harder
  • Ruminate on social interactions after-the-fact, worried that you hurt someone’s feelings

Here is a quick story about that last symptom on the list: I once wore a Misfits T-shirt when my family and I ate out at the Bass Pro Shop. The shirt’s design included a black and white American flag. We were served by an African-American waitress who seemed like she didn’t like us. I later realized this was because she probably thought my T-shirt was a Blue Lives Matter logo, even though it wasn’t. Thinking I may have accidentally offended her still bothers me. 

That meal was three years ago! 

Can you relate? 

Listen, I don’t saddle myself with mental health diagnoses and you don’t need to either. But this one fits me like a glove! I am a survivor of religious abuse. I think I was born with high standards. And I grew up in a very unstable home. Which means that I try to create the illusion of certainty in my life is by obsessing about being good. Morally pure, efficient, productive, preferably perfect.  

Here’s the thing: if you struggle with Moral OCD and you are a part of a halfway decent religious community, you can just talk to someone in the church. Chances are, they will help you put your fears to rest. But it’s harder when you are on a more ‘off the beaten path’ spiritual journey. You try to talk to friends and family about this condition. Most of them just don’t know what to do with you. Some even suggest that you’ll feel better if you just try harder to be a better person!

Here’s the QUICK AND EASY solution for dealing with Moral OCD, my friends: attend just about any HOPE group (especially our Support Groups). Share from the heart what you’re dealing with. Get strength and clarity from the group. 

In the meantime, though, here’s another tool:

Embody SURRENDER daily. Allow this state of heart and mind to show up in your body, in the way you breath and sit. Try it now for a few moments. 

I surrender. I surrender. I surrender. 

Now get curious about how Surrender shows up in the body. Some people experience it by a pleasant melting sensation. Others experience a lifting feeling. The chin gently raised and a smile on their face. How does it feel to you? 

Can we agree that Surrender rocks! And remember: you’re not waving the white flag on Life. You’re just giving up on the pursuit of total control. Admitting that you are really bad at creating absolute certainty. And remember:

You are good.

You are strong. 

You are guided. 

You are guarded. 

And you are safe. 

That, you can be sure of!

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