More About My Intrusive Thoughts - Anxiety and Depre...

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More About My Intrusive Thoughts

mvillarreal profile image

Hi, all. I've been struggling a lot with these intrusive thoughts lately. Because I've been questioning my values, I just feel so confused about my moral compass in life. So here's a thought I've had: I hold to the rule of "do unto others as you would want them to do to you." I know that, if I had done something really awful to someone and really hurt them, even though I wouldn't demand, feel entitled to, or expect forgiveness, at least part of me would hope the offended person could forgive me because I would feel like I had permission to forgive myself, knowing I hadn't hurt them beyond repair. At the same time, if someone had done something horrible to me, and I was in a space where I couldn't forgive them, I would not want people pushing forgiveness on me and telling me to "just get over it" or "You need to forgive them" without even acknowledging my pain. So maybe, thinking about how the Golden Rule applies, we can hold ourselves to an ethical standard of forgiveness without imposing it on other people? Is this a reasonable way of framing the issue without dehumanizing either the victim or the wrongdoer? These thoughts have been triggered by my OCD, and I would really like some closure about where I stand in this messy issue.

14 Replies

I don’t have OCD so I may not help. I’m here though.

This whole thing about forgiveness is a personal choice. I don’t care about those I’ve walked away from, or as I say those I walk through. They become irrelevant to me. If it’s an important person like my son then he’s forgiven before he does anything. We humans are so far from perfect. It’s just not an option.

We all do bad things at times unknowingly. You do the best you can every day with the skill set you have on that day. Hopefully no one gets hurt. The past is gone.

Try to be kind to yourself.


Hi M.

Unfortunately we can only control ourselves and not others. And even the control we have over ourselves is limited as we're prisoners of our conditioning. I don't know what situation you're referencing, but I try (emphasis on 'try') to use a karmic principle:

'I am responsible for my karma. Happiness and unhappiness arise with my actions and not external forces.'

Karma is simply cause and effect. In Buddhism, it is the sum total of our previous lives actions; however, the simpler definition works well. What we give we get. In a situation where we're wronged, returning good for that would begin the process of bringing good back to us. This goodness doesn't manifest as what we want, but what we need. It takes time and patience to apply. There is no need to forgive and get over it. Acknowledging and accepting the wrong and it's consequences is part of the process. Burying these items under a false pretense isn't helpful (to me at least). It is our Karma: a cause and effect.

I also have OCD. Mine manifests as repetitive motions (checking to see that the door is locked numerous times). I do empathize with your repetitive thoughts as I used to have those as well.

But doesn't forgiveness help us humanize the person who wronged us?

Hi M.

Apologies for taking so long to respond.

The person who wronged us is already human without our intervention. Our perception of them is not relevant. Their karma (cause and effect) is their own.

I think you're looking at the issue in a really healthy way. Just remember we're all humans - certainly not God-like and need to forgive ourselves for misdeeds. Today is a new day!

I do have OCD and a Master's in counseling. Hopefully I can help. Despite my education and diagnosis, however I have to admit I got crossed-eyed, reading your post. I'm afraid you are complicating things, my friend.

The "Golden Rule" is an okay moral compass, I guess. It comes from that which I have accepted as my moral compass. I have been asked not to mention my moral compass in the public forum, so if you would like to discuss that further, by all means, PM me. I have worked in addictions and have experience helping people find Higher Powers and don't get offended if they don't want mine.

As for forgiveness, forgiving benefits the forgiver every single time. But forgiveness is not "sweeping things under the rug", pretending they never happened. True forgiveness gives the opportunity for change, but it demands it. Over the holiday weekend, I was just discussing with my own parents what I should do, finding myself in the same situation my father found himself in when I was younger - the same situation about which my parents argued EVERY DAY OF MY LIFE! I have trouble finding a good balance between work and family. I used the phrase, "I forgive you, but because the past is affecting the present, I need your help." My parents have changed; I do forgive them. I don't trust them to have an answer for me, but it doesn't mean I don't love them and forgive them.

mvillarreal profile image
mvillarreal in reply to mjcll41

What exactly made you get “cross-eyed” when reading my post?

mjcll41 profile image
mjcll41 in reply to mvillarreal

You're complicating the issue. Stop thinking about it and worrying about worrying. Forgiveness is hard work and won't happen in a finger snap. Just take it one day at a time and each day take a chunk of it small enough for you to handle that day. That's it. Stop obsessing.

This is often a problem with my OCD as much that I fear karma. I should point out that OCD feeds on our fears, and one huge fear with almost every OCD person I've ever talked to is the fear that they aren't good enough to others.

So with that said, much of what you fear is "bad" is most likely not as bad as you think, it's our minds on OCD. Someone without OCD could walk away no problem.

I suffer with real event OCD mostly, it antagonizes me daily making me feel I've done "bad" things that need punishment even though I know if someone else did the same to me no apologies needed.

It's a good rule to live by, but we are human and all make mistakes.

I'm actually not worried about my own badness. I just feel like my ethical beliefs have been challenged in some of the classes I'm taking and am worried that I'm wrong in holding forgiveness as a value, even though it's a value I've held my entire life. On the one hand, I worry that, if I don't value forgiveness, this is dehumanizing to those who do wrong. On the other hand, if I do value forgiveness, that might be disrespectful to those who are deeply hurting and don't feel forgiving right now. I guess, the way I'm thinking about it now is, I can hold myself to forgive without imposing it on other people, but I still worry that I'm looking at it the wrong way. I often hear, too, that forgiveness "benefits the victim," but I feel like this is a very Western, individualistic construction and that forgiveness also humanizes people who do wrong.

In my opinion, it can take time to forgive yourself and to forgive others. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t forgive yourself or others. I think in both cases you should try to forgive, even if it doesn’t happen right away. However, I believe that when you forgive someone, it doesn’t necessarily mean you think what they did was “ok” or “not that bad” or even “understandable”. Because sometimes when someone does something, it’s definitely not ok, is very bad, and is not understandable at all. So in my opinion, forgiveness is when you stop feeling angry towards someone or yourself about doing something, and just move on with your life. Of corse, these are just my opinions so you don’t have to feel the same way.

If we say that we should try to forgive, though, might that be putting blame on people who feel really hurt and have been severely victimized and don't feel like they can-or even want to forgive?

Well I don’t think you should ever force someone to forgive. It’s a personal choice.

Forgiveness is subjective. Don’t feel guilty for feeling how you feel. You can choose to forgive or not forgive. And you shouldn’t be judged for it.

Personally I think there are things that can’t be forgiven sometimes. Forgiveness is great and a beautiful quality. But it’s not always needed in certain situations.

That’s just my view though

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