I’m accepting all of the intrusive thoughts but the anxiety is still there and so are the thoughts! Why?!

If you’re trying to get rid of a perfectly natural human emotion like anxiety, and you’re trying to avoid and control thoughts, you’re most definitely not practicing acceptance. Compulsions are all about trying to avoid and control uncertainty, anxiety, and other feelings you don’t like, so if you’re using acceptance as a compulsion, it’s only to be expected that the feelings and thoughts you dislike would not only persist, but likely get worse.

It’s useful to let thoughts and emotions just be there, like clouds. They’re there, floating around, and we don’t control them. But when somebody says they’re accepting the thoughts/emotions and they want to get rid of them, that’s like somebody saying: “I accept the clouds in the sky… when are they going to go away? They’re ruining my day!” That person is still judging the clouds, devoting time and energy to pointless attempts to get rid of the clouds, still convinced that some clouds are worth engaging with, still tracking progress by the presence or absence of clouds in the sky.

I found it immensely helpful to work on having any thought or feeling, just like I can live my life under any cloud in the sky. That doesn’t mean spending time and energy hating the clouds. It’s not about living my life under bad, evil, disgusting clouds. I don’t spend time during my day judging the clouds. You probably don’t either. You can bring that same practice to the thoughts and feelings you experience.

As long as you commit yourself to hating clouds in the sky, your life will be under the control of the clouds. You’ve probably spent years trying to get rid of thoughts and feelings you don’t like. That practice has gotten you to where you are. It’s time to try something new.

 

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