OCD and Anxiety Basics

The Importance of Acceptance in OCD and Anxiety Recovery

May 10, 2023

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Insights from a therapist who specializes in exposure and response prevention therapy

Hi! If we haven’t met yet, my name is Jenna, and I’m a licensed therapist who specializes in treating OCD, anxiety, and related conditions. I’ve worked with thousands of individuals with OCD and anxiety, and I’ve seen how debilitating these conditions can be. I’ve also seen how, when implemented correctly, evidence based strategies can radically change a person’s life. Strategies like Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP), Acceptance and Commitment (ACT) Therapy, and other evidence based strategies can help people live a life beyond a person’s wildest imaginations.

In my experience, I have found that acceptance is a crucial component of the recovery process for individuals with OCD. In this blog post, I’ll explore what this means in the context of OCD and anxiety recovery, how it can help individuals better manage their symptoms, and provide practical strategies for practicing acceptance in daily life.

What is acceptance in the context of OCD and anxiety recovery?

Acceptance is the practice of acknowledging uncomfortable or unwanted thoughts and feelings without trying to push them away. In the context of OCD and anxiety, this means accepting the presence of intrusive thoughts without trying to suppress them. Acceptance doesn’t mean resigning oneself to a life of discomfort. It means creating space for the full range of human experience and learning to respond to challenges with greater flexibility.

Why is acceptance important?

When individuals with OCD try to suppress or control their thoughts, it often leads to an increase in anxiety. On the other hand, acceptance allows individuals to observe their thoughts and feelings with curiosity and compassion. This can reduce their intensity and provide a greater sense of control. Practicing acceptance can help you lead a better life, allowing them to pursue their goals without being held back by symptoms.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)

ACT is a form of therapy that emphasizes the importance of acceptance in the face of difficult thoughts and feelings. ACT aims to help individuals develop psychological flexibility, which means learning to accept uncomfortable experiences while pursuing meaningful goals. Try not to view ACT as a passive or defeatist attitude, but rather an active process of opening up to new possibilities.

Practical Strategies for Practicing Acceptance in Daily Life:

  • Mindfulness: Mindfulness is the practice of paying attention to the present moment without judgment. By learning to observe thoughts and feelings with curiosity and compassion, individuals can reduce their reactivity and increase their ability to tolerate discomfort.
  • Self-Compassion: The practice of treating oneself with kindness and understanding, particularly in the face of difficult emotions or experiences. By practicing self-compassion, individuals can cultivate a greater sense of inner strength and resilience.
  • Exposure and Response Prevention Therapy: ERP is a form of therapy that exposes individuals to feared stimuli in a controlled environment. It also teaches them to resist engaging in compulsive behaviors. By gradually confronting their fears and learning to tolerate discomfort, individuals can develop greater acceptance and resilience in the face of intrusive thoughts and other triggers.


Acceptance is a crucial component of OCD and anxiety recovery that allows individuals to better manage their symptoms. By creating space for uncomfortable thoughts and feelings and learning to respond to challenges with greater flexibility, individuals can cultivate a greater sense of inner strength and resilience. Like they say, fighting the rain doesn’t make it stop raining. 

If you are looking for tips on acceptance, check out some recent podcast episodes, or my masterclass on ERP basics.

You got this!!!

– Jenna

This post is for informational purposes only and may not be the best fit for you and your personal situation. It shall not be construed as mental health or medical advice. The information and education provided here is not intended or implied to supplement or replace professional advice of your own professional mental health or medical treatment, advice, and/or diagnosis. Make sure to check with your own physician or mental health professional before trying or implementing anything read here.

© 2023 Jenna Overbaugh, LLC

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