As a person with OCD, discovering self-compassion, the concept that I could be nice to myself, was revolutionary. As I share in the penultimate chapter of Is Fred in the Refrigerator?: Taming OCD and Reclaiming My Life:
I’d been self-critical my whole life because OCD was so demeaning, and I’d unconsciously made its perspective my own. Which is not surprising, because having lifelong, untreated OCD is akin to living for decades with an abusive partner. I’d internalized the mistreatment my partner constantly delivered: I must deserve it, or it wouldn’t keep happening.
But I didn’t deserve mistreatment, and nor do you. So how can you go about treating yourself more kindly?
Dr. Gary Chapman’s book The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts helps readers determine how love is best communicated to them, through words of affirmation, physical touch, gifts, acts of service, or quality time.
If you know your primary love language (and you can take a free quiz to identify it!), you can then show yourself compassion using that language. For instance:
- Are you an acts of service person? Then maybe it would be self-compassionate and loving to hire that neighbor kid down the street to mow your lawn for you, so you don’t have to do it!
- If your primary love language is physical touch, treat yourself to a massage now and then.
- If you hear love best through words of affirmation, maybe keep a daily journal of all the small (and large!) victories you’ve had in managing your OCD.
- Are gifts your thing? Then maybe give yourself a little extra budget to buy something nice to reward yourself for the progress you’ve made in your OCD recovery.
- What if it’s quality time? Well, then you can spend some quality time with yourself, doing something you want to do! It could be reading, gardening, giving yourself an outing, watching an episode of your favorite show (my current favorite is The Great British Baking Show!), going on a trip, or just taking a nice walk in your local park or nature preserve.
When you have OCD, you might not have had a lot of practice in demonstrating self-love. Knowing your love language can give you a starting point for how to best communicate kindness and compassion to yourself.
For more about how I incorporated self-compassion into my OCD recovery, see pages 243, 252, and 265 of Is Fred in the Refrigerator? Taming OCD and Reclaiming My Life.
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FredTalks are not a replacement for therapy, and I encourage all readers who have obsessive compulsive disorder to find a competent ERP therapist. See the IOCDF treatment provider database for a provider near you. And never give up hope, because you can tame OCD and reclaim your life!