Something that helped me immensely with recovery was learning that I would experience whatever I believed was a valid reason to do compulsions. So if physical sensations and pain were reasons that made compulsions ok, then I’d be having all sorts of physical issues and checking Dr. Google or taking weird supplements. If real events were an excuse to do compulsions, then my brain would happily throw up real things that happened. If it was false memories, then it’d go searching for twisted, vague rememberings. If I was into checking feelings and reading my intuition, then I’d have “gut feelings” that the compulsion was necessary. I saw signs! And so on.
This happens because the brain only cares about the compulsion. That’s all it’s craving. So it’ll throw up whatever withdrawal symptoms fuel the compulsion. To tackle that, it helped to approach everything in my head as the same. A thought about a real event from the past is still a thought. It’s no different than a thought about a future event when I’ll ride my space whale to Neptune for a bowling match with a bunch of cyborg unicorns on quantum roller skates. Same level of real thought. All in my head.
There is no such thing as “my real thoughts” and “irrational thoughts”. There are thoughts. Tons of other stuff, too, up there. So it helped to see it all as brain stuff. No need to get caught up in judging it as real or whatever. There’s going to be brain stuff and what matters is what I give my time and energy to in this moment. I could give it to the brain stuff, but I’d rather give it to building and creating things I care about, for myself, and those around me 🙂