Monday, July 5, 2010

Learning to Advocate for Myself

It seems like the default state of my mind is often that others are right until proven wrong, and that I am wrong until proven right. I hate arguing about things that are important to me because it becomes very difficult for me to internally support my opinion or my view of a situation. I want to see something one way, but as soon as someone starts pointing out all the holes in my argument or view, I cave internally, agreeing that they have a point. Their version becomes right and mine becomes wrong. It's not until someone else points out the flaws in the other person's point of view, as well, that I begin to see that their stance may be just as fallible, or more fallible, than my own. But until that third party steps in, I have a hard time standing up for my point of view internally or even distancing myself enough to recognize that what that other person says is their opinion and not necessarily fact.

Of course, this is not true across the board. There are certainly those occasional situations in which I feel I am hands down right, or there are those situations in which I can at least say, hey maybe they're right and I'm wrong, or maybe they're wrong and I'm right...doesn't really matter. I can live my life my way and they can live their life their way. But when it comes to subjects where I feel my knowledge and ability to judge is inferior or to situations in which I already struggle with myself on an issue (like whether or not I have OCD), I am very sensitive to others' comments and have difficulty defending my own beliefs. They point out the flaws in my perspective and rather than recognizing that their opinion is just that, an opinion - one way to look at the situation that may or may not be "right" - I take it as truth. They are right. I am wrong. Their external doubt compounds that doubt that I already feel internally.

Needless to say, people who are very confident in their opinions or who have steadfast views about how things should be done can drive me insane. They make me feel dumb, inferior, wrong, etc, if my point of view differs from theirs. While some may be able to dismiss such a person as overconfident or just plain wrong, I feel my confidence in my own opinions beginning to erode away before the assault of such assuredness. They are like the live, real life manifestation of my OCD voice, challenging the way I do or perceive all sorts of things that are important to me.

I'm not really sure what the solution to this problem is, and it is probably a common sentiment that extends beyond the realm of OCD, but I feel like OCD can make it harder to challenge. OCD agrees with the other person and tells you that, yes, you are wrong and they are right. End of story. Instead of your views versus those of another person, a fair one-on-one game, it quickly becomes 2 versus one with OCD siding with the opponent, leaving you outnumbered and struggling to defend your ideals against two foes, one external and one internal.

This is something that I certainly need to work on - learning to emotionally distance myself from others' points of view and to internally advocate my right to have my own opinion, but it can certainly be difficult when OCD puts a metaphorical megaphone to others' lips, amplifying their argument in my own inner world.

1 comment:

  1. I can identify with this! I remember in the 7th grade noticing that I changed my opinion to match whoever I was talking to, because it felt too scary to disagree in any way--I felt ashamed of doing this, because my self image was "You are defective" and I thought it was another sign of my defectiveness, rather than a girl with OCD and lot of other things to deal with.

    It helps me to "take my best guess" as to what my opinion is(sometimes it's hard to tell because I pre-empt it so quickly), and then carry on with my day, and letting the anxiety be there. The more I get into a protracted battle with the OCD voice saying I'm wrong, the more active my OCD gets.

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