Funny thing about us OCD-addict types: When the going gets tough, we blame it on someone else. Call it the Woe Is Me Disease, where the sufferer is an eternal victim, forever screwed by everyone but his or her self.
It used to be that it was impossible for me to see the problems as my own. It was always the result of something someone else did to me or failed to do for me. Eventually my disease settled into a pattern where I blamed myself for everything, to the point where I just kept beating myself instead of doing what was necessary to move on with life.
My Mom, who passed many of her OCD tendencies on to me, is a textbook example of victim-based OCD. This isn’t meant as an insult or criticism. It’s simply the way the problem manifests itself in her.
She lacks the ability to see things she doesn’t like as the simple way of life. Nothing is ever her fault. It’s always someone else’s fault. She is the perfect victim. In her own mind, anyway.
Seeing yourself as a victim every time the going gets tough is probably one of the worst things you can do. It holds you back, keeps you from improving yourself and makes you look pathetic in the eyes of people who don’t understand where the emotion comes from.
I’m reminded of this after getting a message the other day from an old friend who has been fighting his own battle with OCD. I won’t tell you who he is, but I’ll share what he wrote to me, because he is choosing to do something about his problem:
I recently finished my PHP for my OCD. It was a great program and glad my wife recommended that I enroll. So many things helped me change my way of thinking. One of the most important things I learned was to find ways to be proactive and a problem solver (where before I would be reactive and put my head in the sand).
Additionally, I realized that I suffer from “victim” type of thinking (such as this is not fair, I can’t handle this, etc…) and I need to think more like a “survivor” (I can handle this). I could go on and on about what I learned. I still plan on writing a “guest” column about my experience. I haven’t had much time to put my thoughts down on paper and it’s really important to me to do justice to describing my PHP experience.
I have a huge folder of handouts that I need to organize. I do know that just because I went through the program doesn’t mean I’m miraculously cured. From here I on out, I have many “tools” in my toolbox to handle whatever life throws at me.
I’m looking forward to that guest column.
He’s also right that people like us are never miraculously cured. We simply gather up a series of coping tools and pull them out when we need the help.
As a result, we stop being victims and become, as he put it, survivors.