Why Does Relationship OCD Feel So Real?
ROCD is based in anxiety.
When you can understand that, and understand anxiety, then you can understand ROCD so much better. Yes, you might be saying, but sometimes I don’t “feel” anxious. You probably are thinking that anxiety is all physical symptoms, hyperventilating etc.
When I think about it this way, I think of a person having a specific thought, which causes a reaction (anxiety), which in turn a person goes to the cycle of OCD to relieve it
Now, if you understand anxiety, then you can understand why ROCD feels so real.
Anxiety alerts us that we are under threat, that something bad is going to happen or will happen. It’s like ringing 100 alarm bells throughout our system - our fight or flight system is alerted that there is danger. The reptilian brain takes over.
I thought that person was attractive.
Anxiety (Reaction to that thought)
”What if I have to leave my partner?”
Now, when the alarms ring off, we don’t typically recognize it because we are obsessing ourselves into a rabbit hole of doom and false planning of an imaginary future.
But, our whole body reacts, and that specific habitual pattern of anxiety, obsessing, going into compulsions (or not) becomes a pattern and the pattern gets wired, and then re-wired into our brains, until it’s rooted into our unconscious.
The more we go into this pattern, the more we raise an alarm and alert ourselves that these thoughts are dangerous, the more we deepen these grooves.
These thoughts become unconscious, which is why many times it just happens without us thinking about us doing it.
The more we go into these patterns, the more we believe them to be true, and the more we start questioning our reality.
So taking a step back for a moment.
Let’s say that you tell yourself everyday that you’re ugly. For years maybe.
What happens? If you don’t question the thought, you believe it to be true.
The more we repeat a habit, the more it becomes habitual. Which is why it feels so damn real.
The brain truly is extremely innocent - it’s just using these habits as a way to conserve energy, which is why we develop habits. If you can build this habit of obsession, you can build a habit of non-obsession.
Now the point to all of this is something very magical and beautiful.
The fact that you got to this habitual point of creating these grooves, means you have the potential to create a whole new form of wiring of the brain.
We also have a part of ourselves that is full of wisdom, understanding and education. That wisdom part in us that says “a thought is just a thought” “a feeling is just a feeling” starts to retrain this old, reptilian, scared parts of ourselves.
You have this amazing power and capacity to now create new pathways.
This might feel harder because our brain is drawn to anxiety vs. something peaceful - as we have a negativity bias and are wired for survival, but we can actually use our brain for the goodness of ourselves.
If our brain can get to become obsessive, then it can also get to a clearer, more open, calm state of mind.
We can get to the point where becoming more grounded, attuned, mindful, present and loving with our partner feels and becomes so much more real than the obsessive thoughts.