We start off by reiterating that Jay is a liar. Jay is not interested in making you feel better. He is only interested in pulling you down. So, he will always lie to you. Always! Jay may tell you that you are not as good as you think you are. Or, that you may have accidentally harmed someone. So, you have a choice. Either argue with Jay and try to disprove whatever he is alleging through your intrusive thoughts or simply acknowledge what Jay says without agreeing to the meaning of the thoughts. So, what exactly is acknowledging without agreeing?
Let me give you an example. Suppose you are playing with your little daughter and she wants to make tea for you in her kitchen set. She pretends to pour some in a tiny cup with a tiny teapot and offers the cup to you. You pretend to drink the tea and tell her how delicious it is. At this moment, you are acknowledging having tea.
For the sake of the game play, you acknowledge that you have had tea. But you don’t really agree that you have had tea. If your wife offers to make some real tea, you don’t tell her, ‘I’ve just had tea, I don’t want any more.’. The understanding that you are playing along in a game enables you to differentiate between acknowledging and agreeing and you put it into practice without even realizing it.
Similarly, if you receive an agreement via email, you may send a mail saying ‘acknowledging receipt’. This means you are merely acknowledging receipt of the agreement and not necessarily accepting the terms mentioned in the agreement.
However, when Harm OCD strikes the distinction between the two terms seems to become difficult. You not only acknowledge Jay’s words, but you also agree with them. Let us say Jay tells you that you are not a good person anymore because you do want to hurt others. You need to respond to Jay by saying ‘Probably. I probably am not a good person anymore and I probably do want to hurt people by choice. I don’t care‘. But when you think of saying it, it causes you anxiety. You cannot bring yourself to say it because to your mind, it would mean agreeing that you are a terrible person, which is not a pleasant feeling.
You know, though, that Jay lies to you. If you want to win over Jay, you need to lie back to him. So, you say it. You say, ‘Probably. I probably am not a good person anymore and I probably do want to hurt people by choice. I don’t care‘. When you say that, you acknowledge what Jay says. You are not negating Jay’s words by trying to prove that you are a good person. But you know you are lying because you do care. Since Jay does not need to know the truth, letting Jay know that you do care would mean you agree with Jay’s assessment. So, you acknowledge Jay’s words but refuse to agree with them. Since you have worked to end the debate, you do not need to agree with them. Acknowledge, without agreeing and strip Jay of any power over you. If you acknowledge but refuse to agree, Jay will have to beat a retreat sooner or later. This way you can systematically decimate Jay’s hold over you.