Still worried about obedience, scrupulosity. Please help if you're not tired of me yet

A priest who knows about my scrupulosity, when I told him I was afraid that some advice itself might turn into a compulsion, said: “Don’t do anything out of compulsion.”

Of course it can be difficult to overcome scrupulosity. His words have helped me I think, but now I am worried that if I do something out of compulsion I am sinning by being disobedient.
Now: One priest once told me that obedience is of relevance only for monks/priest and for the penance in confession. But in another thread here somebody wrote that if a priest tells me something is a sin and not to do it and I go against it, I have added the sin of disobedience.

This “don’t do anything out of compulsion” - does that now have to be seen as something I have to obey to under the pain of sin? And what if I am not sure if something is compulsive.

Right now I am worried because I decided not to light a candle for something because I felt it would have been a compulsion. So I went away without lighting it. But then kept worrying about it and was afraid I was taking that intention not serious enough - so far that I told God something like that if because of my not lighting that candle something bad would happen to somebody else, I would have to take the same bad upon me or give up a life dream or something like that.

(This is typical. What I call the “dream attackers”. It seems like whenever I have something I feel strongly about, a way that seems right for me, something I enjoy too, “they” try to find things to make me feel guilty about it and ruin it for me.)

I realized I shouldn’t have said something like that. So I went back and lit two candles, one for the original intention and one to pray for peace from scrupulosity etc and ask God for forgiveness.

I am not sure now if I did that out of compulsion or not. I kind of did it because I felt I made a stupid “deal” with God that I wanted to get rid of by lighting the candle anyway.

But somehow it is still compulsion. And I was aware of it. If it was compulsion, it was stronger than the priest’s advice. (Or order??) So did I sin by not obeying now? Or was that statement not binding under obedience?

And then of course now I start being worried that again I took something as too important that is a dream I have in my life, and worry that THAT made me go against obedience, and that makes my dream bad (as in: Aha, that is more important to you than obedience???) :frowning: But really it was the “dream attackers” that led me, right? But how to be sure?

Did I sin by going back to light those candles?
But if I hadn’t, I know I would have been so worried that I made a stupid deal that I shouldn’t have made.
Do you think I am ok?
I am really feeling bad right now. Very worried. And at the same time I feel like I am on the verge of a change, like I should follow my dreams and listen to the good in me and not worry so much.
But then come the attackers and say “you’re not allowed to have that dream for your life because it has become too important.” This has happened so many times.

Priests and spiritual advisors have told me it is good to take my dreams seriously, to be where there is joy. If it is not something sinful of course. Why am i doing this.

But the most important question for me right now: Have I sinned against obedience because I may have done this out of compulsion?


Bit more distance now. The thought has faded into the background of my brain. Distractions.
Just another scruple?
Ha I could take this even a step further and say, did I post her eout of compulsion too? And so go against obedience again, if indeed that goes against obedience?

Maybe I should just not worry about it. Yes, a priest told me just yesterday to just send such thoughts away.
But what if I have really offended God? My heart tells me I haven’t. I should listen to my heart.


From my own experience battling scrupulosity, my own opinion is that your anxiety over the situation has blown things all out of proportion; it sounds more like the priest who said ‘don’t act on compulsion’ was just trying to give you comfort and advice.

‘But what if I have really offended God? My heart tells me I haven’t. I should listen to my heart.’ This is the important part! :slight_smile: If you look inside yourself and see this is mainly based on emotion (that is, the more anxious you get, the worse it seems, you go over and over the facts but never come to a resolution for long e.t.c.), then its your scrupulosity taking over. I’m sure there is no sin involved - the very definition of a compulsion is something you don’t have true control over. You would need full control of will for it to be sinful. Please, be at peace. I know the agony you’re feeling all too well. I’ll be praying for you!

Now, if only I could follow my own advice. :stuck_out_tongue:

I do not know your history or really that much about you, but if you aren’t already, you REALLY need to get some anxiety/obsession counselling from a professional. You sound like you could eventually drive yourself nutty. This really isn’t healthy, and God gave people doctors for a reason. I do not think that simply seeing a priest is going to do much more for you, especially since in some cases it actually aggravates your worry.

The best advice is to follow what your regular Confessor (who knows about your scruples) says. That, and find a good Catholic counselor

Try doing a search here at CAF for “scrupulosity”.

This issue has been discussed quite a bit.

The Liguorian fathers have published a newsletter [Scrupulous Anonymous] as well as a book on the subject.

Read those. They do help. It may take a while. But reading them does help.

Part of scrupulosity revolves around the trust issue.

It is possible that for some reason it is difficult to trust folks,

But, when a priest says your sins are forgiven … trust him, that your sins are truly forgiven.

God loves you. And when we say, yeah, but this particular sin involved this or that … God knows that you really want to be forgiven. Trust God, the Infinite. The priest does have the Authority from God to forgive sins. The priest knows you are sincere in your desire for forgiveness … so, when the priest, speaking for God, says your sins are forgiven, they really ARE forgiven.

What I like to do is to sit in front of Jesus-in-the-Monstrance at a holy hour or in a perpetual adoration chapel. And just let His Grace flood over you.

Just visualize that …His Grace flooding over you.

Get a good spiritual director you trust who is holy. Go by what he says strictly and don’t worry - you’ll be in God’s hands then. If he and you feel his spiritual direction isn’t enough, then you might want to take something for your compulsion as well.

Usually talking to a priest helps me.
I have been in therapy before. I am still on medication. It helped tremendously. I have been able to go down with the doasage. But recently I have been going through a crisis again somehow.

I am kind of still hoping that this crisis will pass again without me having to go through the whole therapy thing. I am kind of afraid of that. A lot of my scrupulosity has to do with Christian/Catholic values, and I am also a bit afraid a “regular” therapist would not be able to understand that enough.

This is a cross I am bearing right now.

Thank you for your advice. You really think I could go completely nutty :o. It is just times when it gets worse.


Yeah, I guess that’s what happened. Again. :blush:

I’ll pray for you too!:slight_smile:

I think right now maybe that might not be good for me because then I’d be even more worried about breaking any small part of obedience… And what if the spiritual director I get is too different from me? Would I have to do everything he/she says, and if he says I have to make a drastic life decision or give up something I’ve been working for, I’d have to do it?? Or how does that work?

I am not even sure how long I will live in the same place. Something in me says that might not be for me.
Is that sinful, thinking that?

I do. I do believe that. That’s not usually where I ahve a problem. :slight_smile:

I do something like that sometimes too. Those relieving, wonderful moments. Yes. I ahve it in me, I know it, I do believe that I usually KNOW - kind of - when something is overly scrupulous. And I want to do good. You know, I really want to do good too. I want to be somebody who spreads love.

Talk to your doc about your medication. It may need to be adjusted again. Or at least maybe when you are in a crisis you may have to up it.

If the SD is too different from you you would still have to obey him like a doctor when he directed you on how to respond to your compulsions (e.g. He could tell you: You will see me no more frequently than two weeks time and then you will make your confession, and unless you can swear on a stack of Bibles that you commited mortal sin, you will not see me before then; or - Everytime you are not sure you have sinned, just confess these times the next time you make your confession in two weeks; etc… But if a spiritual director tells you something like he wants you to quit a job or do something big, it would be a good thing to do, I imagine, but you are not bound to obey him by pains of mortal sin, generally speaking. If you don’t trust your SD, then get just another one. Keep switching until you find one who is holy and well balanced. No, I don’t think it is sinful for you to believe you would be better off without a SD. But if you can find A GOOD ONE, I’m quite certain you would be better off. People with scrupulosity need good a SD. I had scrupulosity really bad and it has improved tremendously with good spiritual direction. I didn’t even have to go back and forth from priest to priest. I just went to priests who were holy men, orthodox, and well balanced.

Oh yes, and if the priest is unfamiliar with scrupulosity, a religious form of OCD, then you would just then have to seek out a good holy priest familiar with pastorally treating it.

This is the kind of thing I was worried about I guess.
Would I talk to him/her about all life decisions and just have to what he/she tells me? Like, being totally at their mercy, kind of?
And if I don’t feel ready to do that, does that mean I don’t want to abey God enough? Etc.


Everyone has already given you very good advice. I just want to tell you that you are in my prayers. I suffered through years of scrupulosity, and it was agony. Nobody can truly understand the anguish unless they’ve been there.

Best wishes for healing for you. God bless.

If you don’t feel ready yet for spiritual direction, it could just be due to fear. Conquer yourself and think of the holiest priest you know. Tell him you suffer from scrupulosity and tell him that someone told you spiritual direction could help the situation. Tell him you don’t feel ready for spiritual direction and have fears about being totally at the SD mercy. He will know how to handle the situation. Different SD handle spiritual direction differently. Tell him you specifically want help with your scrupulosity, not in making major decisions and let him respond. If he is holy, orthodix, and well balanced, his answer will only help you. Believe me.:slight_smile:

About you asking if you don’t want to obey God enough by not feeling ready for spiritual direction. I’m sure you want to obey God. But maybe you just need to push yourself in the direction of spiritual direction for your own benefit - like eating spinach you don’t like for the sake of the vitamins you might be in desperate need of.

So it is important to go to the same priest every time?

The priest at the church in my hometown is very nice and knows about my scrupulosity. With me he has been letting me make my own decisions, just kind of steering me in the right way.

Then there is another church in the bigger city close by where they have confession scheduled three times a week. I know some of the priests there. I kind of have been going where there was something scheduled, and if there wasn’t went to my own church and talked either to a priest or to one of the two spiritual counselors there. One of them is a woman and I feel very comfortable talking to her I think. The other one too. But they are not priests.

The priest as well as the woman counselor at my church have done some kind of training for counseling now, it said so in the church paper. That that is available upon request. It is just a short term thing, a few sessions or so. But that’s not the same as spiritual advice, right?

If somebody has a spiritual advisor, does that mean you have to tell them everything that is on your mind? Your most personal fears, dreams, hopes? Sometimes these things are hard to even put into words.


The other thing of course is that a lot in my life is up in the open. Even if I will stay here. Could a spiritual counselor “order” me to stay here if I have plans to move??
OK, I guess a holy man would only do that if he was convinced it was truly for my best!

I think the priest in your home town is good for you. He’s nice and he knows about your scrupulosity. Steering you in the right way is probably the best way to describe what your SD will do for you. A good SD is supposed to be able to take you to where he is at in the spiritual life. That is why it is important to go to a holy priest. Ask your priest from your hometown if he wants you to discuss your most personal fears, dreams, and hopes with him. He probably wants you to talk about things you need help with and will probably bring up things he might think you might like to think about. He wouldn’t be making your decisions for you. You are an adult. He will probably offer you advice where he feels it is needed. If things don’t work out, then just end having him as a SD. That’s all.

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