Exposure & Response Prevention (ERP): The #1 Mistake People Make

How do you know when ERP is successful?

Boss_It_1Now that you’ve built your hierarchy of fears it’s time to climb it. Starting with the easiest triggers to the hardest you’re determined to begin. You don’t feel like you’re ready but you start anyway.

It’s not helping. You feel overwhelmed. You feel worse. More afraid than ever. Why isn’t ERP working????

How do you know it’s not working? What’s your end goal?

I’ll know ERP is working when…

I’m not anxious anymore.
I stop thinking these thoughts.
The urges are gone.
I feel at peace.
I know for certain…

#1 Mistake
None of the above is the correct way to measure success. You’ll know ERP is working when you ARE anxious and not doing anything to fix it.

In fact you’re asking for more anxiety. You’re saying to OCD, “Bring it.” “Give me your worst.”

You’ll know ERP is working when you’re tolerating anxiety and living your life even though you’re anxious and having thoughts.

Wanting the thoughts, sensations, urges and anxiety to stop is your #1 mistake. This is only going to make you continue to suffer.

This is the first hierarchy to climb. It’s a mental Kung Fu hierarchy. It’s called “I Want Anxiety and A Lot of It.” or the “I Want to Feel Uncomfortable Forever” hierarchy. 

Make a hierarchy that has nothing to do with your obsessions. The list contains things that you know will make you anxious but not necessarily trigger your OCD.

Watch a scary movie and don’t cover your eyes.
Give the incorrect change to the cashier and don’t apologize.
Ask for a slice of pizza at McDonalds.
Start singing in the middle of the mall.
Call a department store and ask if they have a non existent DVD.
Ask for a job at the Apple store.
Say hello to someone who’s waiting with you in the check out line.

Your list will be unique to whatever makes you anxious and nervous but doesn’t trigger your OCD. Number the items on your hierarchy from easiest to hardest. Then climb this hierarchy hoping with all your might it causes you to be anxious.

You want to be anxious and you want it to last.

Go be anxious. Do it gladly.

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