Unwanted and bad thoughts/scrupulosity

What to do when unwanted bad thoughts or “bargains” pop into your head? I know it’s irrational, but I feel like God will punish me anyway if I don’t follow through. For example, I sometimes have a cigarette and relax at night when all my work is done. I know it’s obviously not the thing to do. I will have the thought that it is bad and if I do this, something really bad will happen like my son will not belong to God anymore. It’s a horrible thought and just comes out or nowhere! But I become really paranoid that if I do this, the consequences will REALLY happen. Usually I am not like this but I have 2 or 3 times a year when these kinds of thoughts kind of intensify and they make me anxious and feel horrible - and I can’t get them out of my head. I also once had a thought pop into my head that if I ever bought another piece of jewelry I would go to Hell. I mean, it sounds ridiculous but I can’t control the thought and once I’ve had it, I feel trapped and bound to it even thought my first words after that was please don’t hold me accountable to that - I didn’t mean to think that!

So I guess I just need some reassurance that you can’t make these kinds of “bargains” and I am just being paranoid so I can relax. I tell myself God wouldn’t take your sin and put it on someone else and that I’m being ridiculous but I just can’t get rid of the anxiety. I tell myself, do you really think God would send you to hell for buying earrings??? A monk once told me to just say a prayer to God when this happens.

I highly suggest that you bring this issue to a holy priest and put yourself under his spiritual direction. This is a very efficacious thing for a scrupulous person to do.

I am scrupulous myself. Recently diagnosed OCD. My main type of OCD is religious scrupulosity. People here can tell you that it is very irrational to think that if you smoke a cigarette, your son wont belong to God. But that wont help. I cannot see any stretch of the imagination that buying jewelry would send you to hell. Do you feel you are buying too much jewelry? I recently got in a episode where I had these thoughts that if I do not stop smoking, it meant that I was choosing tobacco over God, violating the 1st commandment and going to hell. I asked a priest if that was being scrupulous and he looked at me and without a moments hesitation told me “Yes” It made me feel so much better. I want to quit smoking. But I have been smoking for about 12 years. It is a habit I picked up before I became Catholic. I will quit one day hopefully.

Certainly, make a appointment to speak with your pastor. This can be hard because priest’s are so busy. I tried to email mine, but I guess he did not want to answer me through email so the next time I saw him he told me that we need to get together and talk. Obviously he sees my questions as a big issue otherwise he could have just gave me a quick answer. He must want to really get into depth. So, we are still working on finding a time when both our schedules work but I will get some time to talk to him eventually. Also another priest I recently confessed to at another parish told me that if I want to ever talk to him, to just go to The Parish office and make a appointment. So, help is out there if you will just ask. You probably are not going to get comfort from strangers on the internet. You should seek talking to your priest and then seek a spiritual director. If the intrusive thoughts and scrupulosity get really bad, you might want to consider looking up therapy in your area. I found a place that treats Religious Scrupulosity OCD in my area. You must seek help outside of your own mind. Do not give up. God loves us. God is mercy. I will pray for you. God bless.

Not to mention, all spiritual masters (such as St. Ignatius of Loyola, St. Alphonsus Liguori etc.) recommend it. This is the best advice that one can give.

Benedicat Deus,

I am sorry but does that mean talking to my priest is an effective way to help my anxiety? I guess I don’t understand what you mean by efficacious. :confused: Sorry

If Father understands that you are scrupulous and understands what scrupulosity is, he can help you. Not every priest can. But it would be worth the look to find out if there are any near to you that can help you. You can start by asking your senior pastor. Tell him what you are going through. Make a appointment for this. That would probably be better than just blindsiding him.

Look, I know what you are going through. I just met with my senior pastor today. I told him I have been recently diagnosed OCD and that I am scrupulous. I asked him if he has ever dealt with people with extreme scrupulosity. He told me yes and gave me a example. I tried to talk to one priest about it a few weeks ago and he gave me a definition of scrupulosity that made it seem like a good thing. He also told me that to receive communion when in doubt about the status of a sin IS a sin. It made my mind blow up, because I am never 100% certain that I am not in mortal sin for something. It is just part of my OCD to doubt always. I would say, at best, I can be 99.9% sure but NEVER 100% sure. I have since then been told by two priest’s that that advice I got was not right. One told me he just flat out disagreed with that advice and my senior pastor told me “That is not right” about that advice. Both told me why they feel it is not right. I feel so much better. You need to trust in someone else’s judgment other than your own.

At the moment I cannot read the posts…

But I will re- post another older post of mine

All sorts of thoughts can happen to us out of the blue…

The fact that a though happened to one- does not mean per se there was any sin.

And for mortal sin one needs grave matter, full knowledge and deliberate (complete) consent…


For the next few moments --try real hard NOT to think of an Apple.

then scroll down.

What did you think of?

An apple.

Even though your will was against it -you did not want to think of an apple.

Now back to unwanted thoughts…

The best thing to do with such thoughts is not to fight them directly --not fear that they will come—simply do not consent and simply and calmly turn to something else…(or it may be best to keep doing the good thing one is doing…like they come out of the blue when your at work …keep working…keep praying …etc)

(one can gently - conversi ad Dominum - turn towards the Lord -perhaps with a look of love or a short prayer which is a very ancient practice - pm me if you if you need more).

Ignore such unwanted thoughts like one would ignore a hissing goose or a barking dog. One does not stop to argue with a hissing goose or a barking dog does one? No one keeps on walking…

(as noted above the image there comes from a Carthusian Monk from centuries ago…)

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