Thursday, 12 June 2014 2 comments



What a beautiful word.

Congruence means ‘agreement, harmony, or compatability’.

When there is congruence in a situation, it means that two or more parts come together to make everything flow easily, work well and feel right. This is where we get to another beautiful word – ‘synergy’

Synergy means ‘The interaction of two or more agents or forces so that their combined effect is greater than the sum of their individual effects.’

So when two or more parts come together, each with their own unique attributes, they combine in a ‘congruent’ way that means, together, they achieve a higher and greater potential than if they were to remain separate.

Sorry for the English lesson but I feel these words are very important to me, especially in relation to OCD.

There are two parts to each of us. The internal us and the external us. We can tell people about ourselves, but no matter who you are, or how much you talk with someone else, they will never really know everything there is to know about you. I just don’t think we are built to do that, but also we are so complex that I just don’t think we’ve all got enough time to spill the beans on who we are completely. There is naturally therefore a difference between the internal and external us, because to others some of our internal is always unknowable.

My wife and I are close. We trust each other and feel comfortable with each other. We have achieved a level of understanding between us that we could share almost anything with each other. Our sense of knowing each other, much like everyone else, is based on broader principles, yet we don’t know all the little details and all the thoughts and all the nuances of feelings. She sees the external me as well as more of the internal me than anyone else. My wife definitely doesn’t know the extent of my OCD. I just don’t want to talk about all of that with her. Don’t get me wrong, she knows a lot, but individual thoughts and emotions she has no idea really.

The internal part of us, more often than not, needs to agree and be in harmony with the external persona we put forward. Not that we have to be an open book about everything, but they have to correspond. This is normally a given. We can’t help but be who we are. This is what makes us comfortable being us. However, we can for periods of time put up a front, constantly control our responses and say we are fine when we are not etc.

The lesson I've learned is that this is really hard work. It is exhausting.

With OCD this is not often a choice. We generally feel that there is no agreement, no harmony, no congruence between ourselves internally and what we share with others. It has internal effects that we just don't want to share with others because they are embarassing, shameful and upsetting. This is all because the obsessive thought doesn’t even fit with our beliefs on who we really are internally. It doesn’t match up to the way we define ourselves, or how we wish to portray ourselves.

We hide it. We stop people seeing it. This then makes us think we are living a lie. We present something different to what actually feel when we are trying to cope with it.

We are put at odds with our own perception of who we are and therefore feel fake and false in the world as we try to live despite that discrepency. OCD can make you very tired. It’s almost like your brain is doing ten times as much work as others. You are filtering all the time. You are choosing to hold back and hide what’s really going on.

We must never see this as deceitful, but rather it’s about self preservation.

There can be real incongruence between how you feel and how you act.

Not all OCD thoughts lead to incongruence, Some are so scary to us that they actually stop daily activities in their tracks and we are consumed with the thought or the compulsion. This is what people see. This is what I hate the most. It is almost like I am betraying myelf. The thing I want to hide pours out like a cracked water dam suddenly exploding for everyone else to see.

Before this gets depressing…..

I am learning that there is more congruence than you think. Just like the relationship with my wife, I am trying to accept things in broader terms. Broadly speaking, who am I? What do I stand for? In the scheme of things where do I fit in?

The belief that every thought or every emotion or every feeling has to be entertained as significant is the first fallacy.

Everyone has all kinds of thoughts. The difference is others can filter them and clearly choose which ones are significant and which can be treated as fleeting thoughts.

Quite often people will have a thought, think about it for a minute and then, even unconsciously, rationally dismiss it. This ability to process a thought and disregard it is how I think most people maintain congruence between their internal and external personas.

For OCD sufferers the problem is exacerbated by ‘synergy’. The combination of thought and anxiety together leads to a devastating combined force that is much stronger than just the sum of the thought and the anxiety. Together they make what seems like a formidable opponent.

Synergy works both ways. The perceived incongruence between the internal and the external creates the negative synergy.

I like to think of OCD as a challenge of achieving congruence between the internal and the external. It involves embracing and accepting thoughts and situations. Once we can accept our thoughts, whatever they are, we automatically experience greater congruence, since we are not running away or fighting them.

We also break down the barrier between ourselves and others. If we are more settled with the problem, we are not so scared of sharing it with others.

If we can work in broader terms and develop congruence between the internal and the external personas there is great power in bringing them together. Developing congruence between these will lead to positive synergy, where we can start to achieve greater things than we would ever have imagined in our current OCD haze.

Remove the barriers between the internal and external. Be yourself. Accept who you are. Don't be afraid of thinking a thought, embrace it as something that is going on in your mind. As you become more comfortable with the thought, it loses its power.

For additional help, maybe another thing to consider is congruence and synergy between ourselves and the Saviour? Does combining our efforts with His create synergy? I'm pretty sure it does.