It helped me with recovery to recognize that judgments are the first compulsion. Non-judgment is something I now work on frequently with clients. We have a superpowered label maker in our skulls. It’s incredibly useful, but when we start slapping those labels on random brain indigestion, we can create so much struggle for ourselves.
If we label a thought as dangerous or judge it as meaning something about ourselves, then of course we’re going to feel anxious! Of course we’ll want to control it, and check for those “bad” thoughts. But that’s not a problem with the thoughts. That’s a problem with those judgments we stuck on them. We could’ve just as easily labeled them as clouds, not worth spending any time or energy on today.
A flip in my way of thinking that helped me was to see that I was the one doing things to thoughts. I’d always seen it as me being the passive victim of intrusive thoughts and images and disasters. It was the other way around. I was the intrusive judger charging into my brain’s world and sticking everything in tiny boxes with labels that triggered emotions I hated.
It was better to simply let the thoughts be there and save the label maker for filing my donut collection.