One of the problems with a mind laden with OCD is that you think a lot in absolutes. It’s one of the first things you need to stop doing when you finally decide to get help. But six years in, I still haven’t conquered that beast.
Thinking in absolutes when your in a good mood is dangerous because you tend to think you’re so much better than you really are. Example:
Someone tells me I’m a good writer.
Translation in absolute: I’m the best writer in the business.
That’s rubbish, of course. But it’s the way someone like me thinks when I’m wearing my stupid hat. Another example:
Someone tells me they really admire how I am with my children.
Translation in absolute: I’m such an awesome dad.
I try to be. But trust me: I’m not.
Someone tells me I’m a great husband.
Translation in absolute: I’m the PERFECT husband.
Sadly, I am far from it.
Most of the time, when I’m thinking in absolutes, it’s on the negative side. Examples:
You missed the mark a bit with that headline you wrote.
Translation in absolute: 16 years into this career, I still suck at writing.
You shouldn’t have let the kids watch so much TV.
Translation in absolute: I’m a horrible father.
That’s what thinking in absolutes is to me. I either think about something in the best possible terms or the worst. The truth is always somewhere in the middle.
When I think in absolutes, I’m thinking outside the box of reality. It makes for some manic mood swings. Lately, I’m realizing that I’m as far away from getting a handle on this as I was the day I realized something was seriously wrong inside my head and that I needed to get help.
With that in mind, I go thinking in absolutes again: I’m no better a person than I was all those years ago.
That’s not true, of course. I’ve made tons and tons of progress.
But I have a long way to go.
That’s not something that’s absolutely terrible or absolutely wonderful.
It’s just the way it is.
Fortunately for me, my wife, kids and friends are able to see me as I am, and that — for better or worse — they accept me anyway.
I’m thankful for that.