I often wonder about this, too, every time I think I might be a unicorn and I trot into my favourite coffee shop past the sign on the door that says NO ANIMALS ALLOWED. What if they notice I’m an animal and ban me from ever coming back? Why should I accept that risk and keep going? I should just avoid going so I don’t get banned.
Not all situations are exactly as ironic as that one, so here are two other things to consider:
- When we engage in a compulsion as a reaction to the possibility of something bad happening, we’re actually doing something damaging to our health. So we’re definitely causing damage, to ourselves or others, as a reaction to the fear of damage, to ourselves or others. It’s like going to the beach and sawing off your leg because you’re afraid a shark might attack you and bite off your leg. As long as you insist on not accepting that thought, you’re choosing to perpetuate the suffering and struggling you’re experiencing. Why should you accept a thought? Just look at what not accepting it is doing to your life.
- You might be getting caught up in the superficial topic of the thought, which makes acceptance difficult. The key here is that it’s a thought. You could have a thought that you’re a fire-breathing gorilla that eats children for tea. You could have a thought about the Maple Leafs winning some playoff games. You could have a thought that you didn’t wash well enough to get rid of the germs and should wash yourself again under even hotter water until your skin is red and sore, maybe even bleeding. But those are all thoughts. They’re stuff in your head. They don’t have any meaning that you don’t attach to them. But if you believe thoughts mean things then they can be very difficult to accept. So the very idea that there’s a risk in accepting a thought is still the practice of a compulsion. That belief is something you’ll likely find useful to work on.