11 Ways to Resist Compulsions

OCD is a trickster. That’s why every day with OCD is April Fool’s Day. Even if you conduct exposure exercises every single day of your life (which I highly recommend) you still can be fooled by OCD. It’s sneaky and will try everything up its sleeve to trick you into a compulsion or ritual.

OCD is scheming and manipulative—just like a drug pusher. All it needs to do is get you to buy one compulsion and you’re on your way to becoming a junkie. 160_F_78158575_49KcyvYHDAccjysVb1Lexz48ZSRh8V52The life of a junkie is a life of emptiness. All hopes and dreams vanish and the only thing you care about is your next fix. Your next compulsion.

Here’s how to tell the scheming manipulative trickster-drug pusher “NO THANKS”

  1. Recognize what OCD looks like. It’s the drug pusher offering you relief at no cost. “Just this one time. You’ll feel better.” In a room full of 100 people how many of them are worrying about what you’re worrying about? If the answer is not many then it’s OCD! Would you tell your friend to do what you’re doing? Would you take the piece of candy from the clown in the dark van? You’ve got to say, “I know you OCD. I see you. I know what you’re doing.”
  2. Make sure you’re doing exposures every day of your life. This isn’t optional. If the drug pusher sees you facing your fears you’ve got no weakness to be exploited. You have no problem that needs solving.
  3. You can’t talk your way out of buying a compulsion. As long as you’re talking to the drug pusher, you’re showing an interest in becoming a buyer. Don’t explain anything to OCD. Don’t answer any questions. Shrug at whatever OCD is selling. Would you really stop to explain to a drug pusher why you don’t think you need drugs?
  4. Practice focusing your attention for 10 minutes every day. Juggle or focus on something that is quite boring. You want your mind to wander. When your mind wanders, notice it and bring your focus back. Every time you bring your focus back you’re improving your mindfulness. The more mindful and aware you become the less likely you go on automatic pilot and act out of habit.
  5. Know what you’re fighting for. If you can’t figure that out because it’s been so long since you fought for anything, let your values drive your behavior. Write a script that basically says, “I’d rather take the risks (name them) than live like this (describe).”
  6. If you get a strong urge to do a compulsion—delay. Act like someone else for 15 seconds. Read your script. Think about what you have to lose if you give in. If you create enough space between the urge and the act, you can win.
  7. Give yourself permission to be anxious and uncomfortable. “This is unpleasant but I can handle it. I don’t need to fix this.”
  8. If you’re worried about something happening, remind yourself of the 100 people in the room. If they don’t have to do this compulsion, why should you? You might be unique but you’re not special! You don’t have some kind of special power! Stay in touch with reality! 
  9. Play mental Kung Fu. “Okay if that terrible thing happens so be it. I will gladly pay the consequence if it ever happens.”
  10. If you do get tricked, “recontaminate.” In other words, undo the compulsion by triggering yourself again and sitting with the discomfort.
  11. Make sure you’re eating enough protein, exercising and drinking plenty of water. This helps your brain to be a lean mean fighting machine.

This is day 15 of a 30 day challenge. Which of the above 11 ways to say “NO” will you work on? Choose and commit!

7 thoughts on “11 Ways to Resist Compulsions”

  1. I am trying to do my exposure drawings and writing everyday or at least every other day– when I tend to get in a good spot I forget to keep that as part of my routine.

  2. One of these ways that I work on a lot is focusing my attention through meditation, which I started doing in February. My routine for the past couple weeks has been 5 days of 15 minute meditations and 2 days of yoga. To be honest most days I don’t feel like meditating, but I do it anyways. I’m striving to improve myself and if 15 minutes of meditation will help then I will do it no matter how I feel. I used to interpret the quote “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone” as life begins ONLY when you do something that makes you nervous. Now I interpret it as life begins when I do things I don’t feel/want to do whether they make me nervous or not. Meditation doesn’t make me nervous, I just don’t want to do it. It’s given me a new perspective on the habits I’ve been trying to create.

  3. All of these are great, but number two really resonates with me. I try to expose myself to one of my fears daily, even though I’m not always successful. The other day, when I was reading this post, I had a certain chocolate treat in front of me with peanut butter inside. This is ordinarily a very good thing, except for the fact that I’m very afraid that I’m going to develop an allergy to peanut butter. So strong was the fear that I had not eaten peanut butter in quite a while. I read this post and thought to myself, “What better time than now? Something bad may happen, but so what? If I have a bad allergic reaction, at least I’ll have eaten something delicious.” Much to my surprise, I’m still here! …Although now I can’t stop eating those treats, so that presents a different problem.

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