Category Archives: Habits

Five Little Known Secrets About Compulsions

Compulsive behavior
Here, my little friend, I know the way out!

You’ve probably discovered OCD can be very convincing. What a brilliant mind OCD must have. What must it take to convince you to buy into doing compulsions? OCD has got to be very perceptive and calculating. Wouldn’t it be something if you could be just as cunning and sly as OCD? 

Well, I’ve found something that might just help. A lot of people write books about OCD but did you know OCD has written books too? They’re very hard to find and that’s why I was so excited when I stumbled upon OCD’s Playbook of Compulsions.

When I read this book I wasn’t surprised to learn that OCD doesn’t play fair and square. In fact, its entire game is one of deceit. I’m reviewing a chapter from OCD’s Playbook and it’s called, “Five Little Known Secrets About Compulsions.” 

In this chapter OCD reveals five secrets about compulsions:

#1) You Get Good At What You Practice

At first performing compulsions is awkward and hard to get just right. But with practice, you get really good at them and to not do them takes you out of your comfort zone.

Compulsions Defined
I can see you!

A compulsive behavior can be invisible or observable. Most everyone is familiar with observable compulsions and there’s really no limit to what they entail.

Observable Compulsions Include:

  • Retracing, stepping or walking a certain way
  • Checking locks, appliances, switches or cords
  • Repeating certain words or phrases
  • Blinking, counting, tapping, stretching, touching or doing things in a certain sequence
  • Washing, cleaning or sanitizing
  • Avoiding people, places or things
  • Asking for someone to repeat what they said
  • Using only “safe” numbers or words
  • Arranging objects in a certain order
  • Tattling or confessing
  • Reassurance-seeking by asking the same questions or Googling the same thing over and over (click for more info and video.)

Which compulsions do you tend to perform?

 

OCD Can Be Very Convincing But Also Very Conniving

It is especially important to identify or target mental compulsions. You’ll mistakenly think you have pure “O” if you don’t. Don’t overlook mental acts. Make sure you identify mental compulsions because if you don’t how will you know what to stop doing so that you can recover? 

Mental Compulsions Include:

  • Counting or creating images and shapes in the mind
  • Scanning the body or the environment
  • Checking for intention (Was that thought deliberate? Did I mean it? Is that thought me or OCD?)
  • Mentally going over and over something in hopes of getting certainty
  • Checking for the ability to feel connected to others
  • Making promises to self throughout the day
  • Checking, “Am I feeling what I “should” be feeling?”
  • Repeatedly rewinding & replaying an event or a conversation
  • Replacing a bad thought with a good thought, or a less bad thought
  • Checking to see if the obsessions are still there or similarly, obsessing about obsessing
  • Analyzing a thought to discern real vs. “just OCD”
  • Trying to figure out why a certain thought keeps occurring
  • Repeating the same phrase or word in your mind 

Which mental compulsions do you perform?

 

What OCD Doesn’t Want You To Know About Your Compulsions:

You get good at what you practice. Practice compulsions you’ll get good at doing them. You’ll get so good they’ll come rather easily and eventually turn into a hard habit to break. If you practice feeling uncomfortable, you’ll get good at it. Everything you ever wanted is on the other side of fear. To get there you’ve got to go through it not around.

#2) Performing A Compulsion Is A Choice

There is no supernatural force making you do compulsions. You choose whether or not to do a compulsion. What you think about is not your choice. You can’t choose your thoughts but you can choose how to react to your thoughts.

Compulsive behavior
Nothing happens unless I say it can happen!

You choose compulsions to feel more in control.

The urge to perform a compulsion is usually prompted with relentless and persistent warnings: “If you don’t do this you’ll be sorry. Things will get out of control and bad things will happen.” It can be seductive and promising, “You’ll feel more in control, just do it this one last time.” 

Although some compulsions were started so long ago that they’ve become more of a habit than an urge, you’re still choosing to do them. When I put the cap on the toothpaste there’s not a lot of thought behind the behavior.  It’s really a habit.  But, I still have a choice whether or not to put the cap on the toothpaste.

We are always in control of the choices we make. Sometimes we’re just not being mindful enough to choose wisely.

What OCD Doesn’t Want You to Know About Compulsions:

You started compulsions to feel a sense of control and now you have less control than ever.

#3) Every Compulsion Is Done to Avoid Discomfort

You might proclaim that you perform compulsions to save yourself or somebody from harm. But, that’s just a story. Like any OCD story, it’s irrelevant. What it all boils down to is that you don’t want to feel uncomfortable.  

Follow any OCD story to its end and apparently, the result is catastrophic as you will either be destroyed or abandoned. 

  • If I get a cold or flu, I’ll miss out. I have to sanitize. If I miss out I’ll get behind. If I get behind I’ll fail miserably (destroyed) and end up alone (abandoned). 
  • These horrible thoughts make me feel like a bad person. I’ve got to stay away. If I act on these thoughts I’ll feel guilty and won’t be able to live with myself (destroyed) and no one will ever love me again (abandoned).
  • I don’t think I’m good enough. I’m so inadequate. I have to double triple check everything. If I make a mistake I’ll be held responsible. I could lose everything (destroyed) or be laughed at (abandoned).
Compulsions
Baaa hahaha…

In OCD’s Playbook of Compulsions, there is a cartoon of OCD basically boasting from underneath a bed, “Baaa hahaha…if you were willing to be uncomfortable there would be no need for a compulsion.”

What OCD Doesn’t Want You to Know About Compulsions:

You started compulsions to avoid discomfort and now you’re more uncomfortable than ever. 

In OCD’s Playbook of Compulsions, there is another chapter called, “How to Manipulate the Reward Center of the Brain.” It goes into great detail about how OCD manages to get you addicted to compulsions. 

For now, we’ll have to save that chapter for another time. (Unless OCD finds out I have the Playbook and breaks into my house and steals it back.) But OCD also briefly mentions the “reward center” in the current chapter we are reviewing: 

Five Little Known Secrets About Compulsions

#4) Performing a Compulsion Only Gives Temporary Relief

In a nut shell, the reward center in the brain reinforces the compulsive behavior by releasing a happy juice called, Dopamine.  Pleasure becomes associated with the compulsion. You become addicted to the compulsive behavior.

You become addicted because the dopamine doesn’t last long and you crave more of it. How to get it? Perform the compulsion again. C’mon, repeat it. Once more, repeat it. Last time, repeat it. The relief doesn’t last long. That’s how you get hooked.

OCD is like a drug dealer and entices you with its promises of feeling good. The idea is to get you to buy without even thinking about it. Once you’re hooked the price just keeps increasing.

What OCD Doesn’t Want You to Know About Compulsions:

You started compulsions to feel good and now you’ve never felt worse.

#5) The More Compulsions You Perform, the Less Confident You’ll Be

Compulsions are performed to gain a sense of certainty. Except OCD is a fraud and can’t give you certainty. Nobody on this earth has certainty.

Did I turn off the faucet? If you check you won’t feel very confident the next time you use the faucet. When you check you give your brain the message that you can’t be trusted.

Compulsive behavior
My memory is horrible!

If you take a picture of the iron unplugged and bring it to work with you the picture tells you that you left the house with the iron unplugged. Unless of course OCD messes with you and makes you doubt what day you took the picture. 

You’ll need to take a picture every time you use the iron because you’re giving your brain the message you can’t be trusted. In fact, you’ll start to doubt whether you turned other appliances off and take pictures of them too. Soon you’ll be dragging photo albums to work.

What OCD Doesn’t Want You to Know About Compulsions:

You started the compulsion to get rid of doubt and now you have more doubt than ever. 

Today’s Best Advice On How to Resist Compulsions:

Everything you think a compulsion will do for you–expect the opposite to occur. If you are willing to experience uncertainty and doubt (discomfort) there is no need for a compulsion. There is no need to avoid.

Resisting compulsions
Everything you ever wanted to know about how to resist compulsions
“The Cold Ugly Hard Truth About Compulsions”
Resisting compulsions
Questions? I can help!

If you have questions about how to resist compulsions be sure to add them to the comment section on this post. I’ll be sure to address your questions and give you…

The Best Advice On How to Resist Compulsions

How to Control Anxiety: Should You?

The harder I tried to stop thinking about it…………..the faster I thought about it.

Don’t think about the pink elephant.

The harder I tried not to feel it….the stronger I felt it.

Don’t feel the couch on your back.

If you’ve been properly treated for OCD then you know the answer will never be to stop. You can’t stop thoughts. You can’t stop anxiety. And you shouldn’t try! What then should you be doing? 

Want the thoughts. Want the anxiety. The only way out is in, not out.

If someone is telling you to just “knock it off” send them this blog. If you’re telling yourself to knock if off…keep reading!

Let’s assume your OCD is a little you. A three or four year-old version of you. If this is true, and I think it is…telling such a young worrying child to “KNOCK it OFF” is not really teaching any kind of life lesson. 

A young boy is about to take the stage for the first time in his life and sing with the chorus. His brain is asking, “What’s wrong? How come my legs feel funny?” The brain MUST search for and provide an explanation. “Why are my legs wobbly???” The brain must explain. It’s human nature. If there’s an explanation there’s got to be a solution.

Searching for an explanation can occur below the threshold of consciousness. You don’t even know you’re doing it. The attempt to explain physiological sensations can be too subtle for the conscious mind.

Only one or two seconds have passed. Ah-Ha!!! The brain has found a reason for the wobbly legs!!!! “Mommy, what if I fall in front of everyone? I feel like I’m going to fall!”

What do you think most Mommies say? I hope you take the poll before reading any further! We’ll have lots of fun if you do!

 

The problem isn’t the wobbly legs. Agreed? The wobbly legs are a symptom of the problem. If we only talk about the wobbly legs, then we address the symptom but not the cause.

“You’re not going to fall. Your legs are very strong.” In this response the focus is on the legs. But, what’s causing the wobbly legs?  

“Here, drink some water and think about the pizza we’re eating after this.” The focus is on trying to stop worrying about the wobbly legs. Distract. Reassure. “You’ll be just fine.” Don’t think about the pink elephant. Don’t feel the couch against your back.

“The chances of you falling are very low. It’s possible but not probable. So far no one else on that stage has fallen. So you’re not likely to fall either. And I bet they’ve got wobbly legs too.”

Again, the focus is on the wobbly legs not being likely to cause a fall. Why won’t this work? Because that little brain of his quickly calculated that he could be the one and only kid that falls.


In this precious moment, this boy has an opportunity to learn a life lesson. This is the kind of lesson that will carry him through many rough times in his life.

The answer to his question, “Mommy, what if I fall” has the power to rewrite the script playing in his mind.

The way you answer your question also has the power to rewrite your inner thinking patterns. Even though your thought patterns are automatic due to practice and repetition you can retrain your brain.

Let’s talk about the little boy’s wobbly legs for a minute. We all agree that the problem isn’t his wobbly legs. Right? It’s his anxiety.

Anxiety is felt physically. In nerve endings. In muscles-tense or weak. Aches. Pains. Twitches. In breath-fast or slow. In the skin-clammy or itchy. The racing heart. Upset stomach. Tremors. Saliva.

There’s nerve endings everywhere so anxiety can be felt anywhere! 

The brain doesn’t like unexplained things. It will notice the physical sensation, create a story to explain the physical sensation, and it will build control mechanisms into the story.

When the brain explains the physical sensation, it won’t automatically consider that it’s just ANXIETY!!! And it certainly won’t conclude that the anxiety is okay. (That part has to be learned.)

Instead the brain will focus on finding a way to stop the discomfort. It will focus on the story, not the anxiety.

How can it be stopped. Hmmmmm, lets think of a story that has control mechanisms. How might this look for the little boy afraid to take the stage?

“If I skip three times and jump up once, I won’t fall.” Does that sound like OCD? The focus is on controlling the situation. The brain created a story that explains the physical sensation and now he has something he can do about it.

He probably won’t fall. So what will the brain conclude? “You didn’t fall because of that skip and jump thing you did. Good job buddy! See! Anytime your legs are wobbly, skip and jump and you won’t fall.” Liar, liar pants on fire!!!

The compulsion has been reinforced in the inner thinking-below the threshold of consciousness. And now the subconscious will run the show. This will easily grow into a habit and soon he won’t even remember why he does what he does.

This little boy has anxiety. Your OCD is young, like him. A three or four year-old part of your mind. It’s only a part of your mind. There are so many other beautiful parts to your mind. But, this part has the potential to run the entire show.

What is the life lesson this little boy has an opportunity to learn? What will make his brain a lean, mean fighting machine? Choose as many answers as you think will be most helpful:

 

The actionable steps for YOU to take are:

  1. Stay focused on the anxiety-not the story that is trying to control the anxiety. Anxiety doesn’t need to be fixed. Notice it, name it and move on. Steer away from the story and go towards the anxiety.
  2. Want the anxiety. Want the thoughts generating the anxiety. “Good, there you are. I need the practice.”
  3. Seek the anxiety. “Let’s see if I can make myself anxious right now and learn to experience it as something making me stronger.”

The anxiety comes from a very young part of you that truly doesn’t know very much about life at all. But, you have all these other beautiful parts of your brain that are very rationale and fun-loving.

Let those parts talk to the little you, who really shouldn’t be leading the way.  

I’ll lead the way now.

“I know you’re afraid and uncomfortable, but I know how to move forward. You can trust me.”

One other actionable step you can take:

To work on rewriting your inner thinking patterns, let’s rewire the messages that are exposed to the mind, but are too subtle for the conscious mind to know about.

Using post-it notes or reminders on your phone, or messages that flash on your computer while you work, write messages like these:

  • I can meet any challenge even though I’m anxious.
  • I’m ready for anything because I don’t mind anxiety.
  • I go after what I want in life even though I’m anxious.
  • Everyday my confidence grows stronger because I’m okay being anxious.

You don’t even have to read them. They’ll be picked up by your subconscious mind.

Sharpen Your Mental Ability to Pay Attention

We all get weird thoughts. How we react to those thoughts is pure choice. If you’re not paying attention to the fact that you have a choice, and just operate on automatic pilot, then you’re likely to get stuck in a loop. Watch this video for a warm and humorous explanation of how to manage mental habits and prevent getting stuck in a loop: (I had trouble embedding this video so click on the link above or “show all content”.)

Key points:

Thoughts cause habits. Some of these habits are mental acts. Mental habits appear invisible. But they aren’t! When there is a thought there is a choice of how to react. If we don’t notice the choice we will automatically react as we have before. It’s human instinct to repeat, repeat, repeat. Pay close attention to the choice!

Our reaction to a thought will either reinforce the same thoughts or reduce them. If we don’t want to perpetuate a thought then we have to do something different to break the habitual response.

Notice an unwanted, intrusive thought. Recognize there is a choice on how to react. Don’t use the same old response you’ve been using that keeps you stuck. Your reaction must be different.

One time I helped a married couple who were arguing all the time. During their sessions all they would do is yell at each other. I couldn’t get a word in. Finally one day as soon as they came into the office I had them lie down on the floor with heads touching. They never raised their voice once. The pattern was broken by doing something different.

A lot of times people will stay away from something that brings them joy because they don’t want to associate something bad with something good. What they end up with is everything bad and nothing good.  This is a great example of doing the same thing over and over and getting the same outcome. Be courageous and break the pattern of keeping everything that is good locked up. Let the goodness touch the bad. Do something different.

It sounds simple and too easy for such a tough problem. It’s hard for a while but stick with it and there’s a payoff.

This is day 23 of a 30 day challenge. If there’s something you love to do, but you’re not doing it because you’re afraid a bad thought will pop up. Break this pattern. Take the good with the bad. Don’t let your world get so small.

Do You Have Trouble Getting Out of Bed?

The importance of managing physical energy seems obvious right? But, if you are working on defying OCD and bossing it back, then you’re probably focused on Exposure & Response Prevention(ERP) and barely thinking about your physical energy. Yet, without physical energy it’s difficult to think clearly, focus on the task at hand, or have enough wherewithal to face fears.

One of the keys to bossing it back is having enough physical energy—enough fuel. A car can’t run without enough fuel and neither can the human body.

Simply put, physical energy comes from a balance of glucose levels. The amount of energy we have depends on what we eat, what time we eat and how we breathe and sleep.

Are you someone who has no energy in the morning? When you wake up how long has it been since your last meal or snack? Possibly 12-16 hours! And the snack was probably sugar, like a bowl of ice cream!

Do you skip breakfast or grab a quick carb as you’re heading out the door? It’s actually recommended that to balance glucose levels we “graze” by eating 3 meals and 2 snacks a day.

Ask a “go-getter” about his or her diet and they’ll tell you they avoid carbs and sugar and eat plenty of almonds, apples, avocados, bananas, beets, blueberries, broccoli, cashews, cherries, eggs, wild-caught fish, kale, and pumpkin or sunflower seeds. Foods that are low glycemic or high in L-Tryosine slowly release glucose. Slow release prevents the crash and burn you get from sugar spikes.

Do you overeat? Recently I was on a cruise and one of the waiters at dinner asked if he could surprise my table with a 12-course IMG_1295-1meal. We felt adventurous and said sure! We had no idea what he would bring us. I must say it was glorious! So yummy. But, by 7:30pm we were all ready for bed! We were unable to enjoy any of the night time activities. This is an example of too much fuel!!!

This is day 20 of a 30 day challenge. Consider your diet. Accept the challenge of being mindful of what you eat and when you eat.

Compulsions: Maybe You’re Not Doing Them Out of Fear

160_F_68916283_YWEclzyepzuVzgZ6TSAjzexKQugucuw0After years of being a slave to OCD it’s hard to stop. A lot of compulsions are done out of habit and not fear. I noticed a 42 year old tapping the left knee twice and then the right knee twice. This is what our session sounded like:

Q- Why are you doing that?
A- Hmmmmm. I don’t know anymore. It’s just something I’ve been doing for a long time.
Q- Are you aware of any particular thought before the urge to tap?
A- No not really.
Q- Well what would happen if you resisted tapping?
A- I don’t even know. I don’t remember why I started doing this.
Q- Does it make you nervous to think about resisting?
A- Yeah, but I don’t know why.
Q- Do you have other things you do that you don’t know why?
A- Oh probably but I’m not really aware. I didn’t even know I was tapping until you mentioned it.

That’s a great example of performing a compulsion out of habit. It’s very common!

During an exposure exercise in my office a young woman touched an object that she thought was contaminated. She’d been doing some exposure exercises on her own, but not really building any momentum. So this particular exercise was a bit more challenging than what she’d been working on. She hesitantly touched the “contaminated” object and this is what our session sounded like:

Q- What’s your anxiety?
A- I don’t know. I can’t tell. But I wish I hadn’t done this.
Q- How come?
A- I think I’m going to go home and spend hours washing.
Q- That’s what you used to do all the time, right?
A- Yeah, I don’t think I’ve touched anything like this in a long time.
Q- Maybe your brain has updated and you don’t need to wash anymore.
A- I don’t know. I’m really regretting this.
Q- How anxious are you?
A- I don’t know. I can’t tell.
Q- Well, you can go wash right now. It’s your choice, not mine. It’s up to you.

She went and washed her hands, but she wasn’t gone for more than a couple minutes. In the past washing hands would take a good 10-20 minutes.

Q- Now that you’ve washed how do you feel?
A- I don’t know.
Q- Do you think you might leave here today feeling disappointed in yourself?
A- I don’t really know why I just washed. I actually didn’t feel a strong urge. I just did it.
Q- Because that’s what you used to do?
A- Yeah maybe? I don’t think I really needed to do that.
Q- Do you want to try this exposure again right now?
A- Yeah. Let’s do it.

She did the exposure exercise and felt no need to wash her hands.

This is day 19 of a 30 day challenge. Consider the possibility that you are performing some compulsions out of sheer habit. These compulsions may be rituals or mental acts. Try to detect what it could be and then challenge yourself. There’s a strong possibility your brain has updated and you just don’t know it. Let us know if you have success!

The Second Biggest Mistake People With OCD Make

If you have OCD the second biggest mistake you can make is to not stick to the plan. When you go off plan, OCD gains momentum and takes over. This is very harmful because once you give in to OCD, it not only robs you of time and energy, it’s intensely painful trying to get back on plan. You can’t afford to get through your day on automatic pilot. You’ve got to stick to the plan no matter what. 

So that’s the second biggest mistake people with OCD make; not sticking to the plan. What’s the first biggest mistake? The first mistake is to not have a plan! If you have no plan you’re drifting. And if you’re drifting you’re going nowhere fast. It’s a life of desperation filled with regret. OCD is in charge and it’s running you ragged. Without a plan, all your dreams and hopes pass you by. 

You can beat and defy OCD if you stick to the plan. By now you’re asking, “WHAT’S THE PLAN???” As a Cognitive Behavioral Therapist I’ve worked for 10 years focusing on helping only those with OCD. My practice is dedicated to helping people develop a plan to defy OCD. People who stick to the plan do very well. You can have all the strategies and tactics in the world but if you don’t have a plan, what good are they? 

160_F_104942289_OG15RaCiY8rHeyNh8qFqcIh99VDa1cMF

The plan I’m speaking of consists of four proven components that spell out the word DEFY:

Determination
Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP)
Mental and Physical Fitness
Yielding with Radical Acceptance

I wish I could explain these four components in one blog, but I can’t! So I’m giving myself a challenge. I promise that during the month of April (which starts tomorrow) I will post a short blog every day that will help you develop a plan to defy OCD. By the end of 30 days you will not only know exactly what the plan is—but you will have an opportunity to stick to the plan for 30 days. Doing something for 30 days is very powerful and effective! Do you accept this challenge?

In each blog I will give one actionable step for you to take. So this is your challenge, to read the blog every day and take the actionable step.

Warning: I will remove each blog post after 24 hours. I’m doing this so you’ll have an incentive to stick to the 30-day plan. There can be no, “I’ll get to it tomorrow.” Procrastination is not part of the plan. 

Who shouldn’t take this challenge:

-If your own therapist or doctor tells you not to do it.

-If you don’t really mind being bossed around by OCD. 

-You don’t believe you have the time to Boss it Back.

If you want a reminder each day to read the blog, make sure you’ve subscribed to my Email tips.

One final note. I just came back from a cruise. Here’s a funny video I took on the deck of the ship one beautiful afternoon. I stuck to my plan but I’m not sure these people did!

How to Build Your “Boss it Back” Toolbox in One Day: Tool #6 Most Recommended by OCD Experts

In the heat of the moment it’s so easy to forget everything you’ve ever learned about bossing back OCD. Here are 8 essential toolbox must-haves!

emptytoolbox

Tool#1

Make a collage of what you are fighting for. If you weren’t feeding OCD, what would you be doing? Get pictures from the Internet or magazines that reflect your values, hopes and dreams and make a collage for inspiration. In the heat of the moment, especially when anxiety is at its highest, refer to your collage. Remember what you are fighting for and resist feeding OCD!

Tool#2

Find an object that symbolizes the patience, energy, and time needed to master the ability to defy OCD. Defying OCD doesn’t happen overnight or in one week. A symbol that signifies kungfuiachievement through hard work and long practice is captured in a Chinese term: Kung Fu. Use something like a stone, piece of jewelry or decal to remind you that defying OCD is mental Kung Fu—it takes hard work and time.

Tool#3

Replace compulsions with healthy habits. Many people report a loss of identity and purpose when they stop filling up their time with feeding OCD. You can recreate personal satisfaction and personal meaning by creating healthy habits. Since checking off a habit each day and keeping a log of progress improves motivation consider using an app to keep you on track. Siri will gladly remind you about the healthy habits you are working on. If you want to get more in depth coaching, get an online or smartphone habit App. Some of the best apps include: Nozbe, LifeTick, Strides, Coach.Me, Habit List, irunurun, Goals on Track and Daily Goals. I also offer Healthy Habits private Facebook groups and personal recordings.

Tool #4

Create “Boss it Back” statements that address your cognitive errors.

“If I’m not 100% sure of safety, then there is absolutely 100% certainty of danger.” “I’d rather take the risk than live like this.”
“If I think bad thoughts, bad things will happen.” “If something bad happens, I will pay the consequences.”
“I’ve got to do everything perfectly.” “I’d rather be imperfect than live like this.”

Tool #5

Get some juggling balls or coloring books and practice focusing at least 5 minutes every day. This will help restructure your brain and activate other parts of your brain besides the amygdala. Meditating or focusing exercises will help you develop the ability to focus on what you choose to focus on. We can’t stop obsessions from happening, but can certainly learn how to simply notice these obsessions without analyzing them and focus rather, on the task at hand.

Tool #6

facefear

Write down a hierarchy of your fears and prepare to gradually climb that hierarchy from easiest to hardest. This is widely recognized by OCD exerts and researchers as the most effective way to boss OCD back. Click Here for a description of Exposure & Response Prevention and ideas for building your hierarchy. This self-help book will also help you build a hierarchy.

Tool #7

Celebrate! So that you always have an idea how to recognize your hard work, put a list of ways to celebrate your victories in your Toolbox. OCD hates it when you celebrate and will try to tell you not to do it after you win a battle. Strike a Superman pose, fire up some happy music, do a happy dance or do something nice for someone. Celebrate the fact that you just took a step in the right direction.

Tool #8

Identify an Accountability Partner and put the contact information in your Toolbox so that you always remember this is a tool. Include the reasons why you chose this person as your accountability partner. Share the contents of your Toolbox with your Accountability Partner. When you are struggling go to your Accountability Partner to remind you to use one or all of your tools. Don’t go to some random friend or family member who knows nothing about your Boss it Back Toolbox. They’ll most likely end up reassuring you and feeding your OCD.

There are many other tools for your toolbox but these are some of the top ways to Boss it Back. Get proactive and make your Boss it Back Toolbox today! Don’t waste time! OCD has robbed you of enough!

Three Habits You Should Ditch in the New Year

Around this time of year we tend to think about what to change in 2016. And what I know for sure is that many people with OCD are thinking about bossing it back faster and smarter than ever before. But, some people with OCD aren’t really thinking about bossing it back. They’re thinking about how to make unwanted intrusive thoughts stop.

baby girl crying from ear ache

Bossing it back means letting those unwanted intrusive thoughts exist in your mind without doing anything to get rid of them. (Like performing physical or mental compulsions, seeking reassurance or avoiding triggers.) Think of bossing it back like this: You’re on a plane with a screaming baby sitting right next to you. You don’t try to make the baby stop screaming because that only makes her scream more. You don’t talk to her. You don’t play with her. You don’t yell at her. You don’t judge her. You don’t try to figure out what’s wrong. You don’t ask the mother any questions. There is nothing you can do to stop the baby from screaming. You pick up your book, shrug and read just as you intended before you met the screaming baby. The screaming baby has no effect on your ability to read. That’s bossing it back! The screaming baby is your OCD. Let it scream!

But, OCD is a trickster and can talk you into bad habits to try and stop the screaming. Are you guilty of any of these bad habits?

  1. Thinking a compulsion is no big deal

Well I hate to break it to you but it is. Compulsions keep OCD alive. When you perform a compulsion it’s like paying attention to the screaming baby. She only screams louder. There is no such thing as a good compulsion. They are all a big deal. Don’t get tricked into a compulsion when OCD says, “Just this one time.” Or “Do it and get it over with.” “You won’t be able to get this off your mind unless you do this compulsion.” You know these are lies. I know you fear harm will come if you don’t do what OCD says. Your fear is not the greatest fear ever experienced. There is always someone with OCD who fears harm much more than you. And that person with more fear than you has bossed it back. Don’t use fear as an excuse.

Break the old habit of thinking compulsions are no big deal. They rob you of your life and waste so much time. People who boss it back realize compulsions are a huge deal. No matter how afraid they are, they resist the urge to do a compulsion. They reach a point where they’ve had enough of the lies. They know that one compulsion leads to another. In many cases, their fear is more intense than yours, and the risk feels far more real than your risk, yet they take the risk anyway and boss it back. Remember this;  there is always someone more afraid than you, who is bossing it back.

  1. Not scheduling time to boss it back

If you don’t set your intentions to boss it back, you won’t. When you’re caught in the OCD trance, you’re on automatic pilot and doing whatever OCD tells you to do. To boss it back faster and smarter than ever, put your plan in writing and use notifications to remind you to execute your plan. There are many user-friendly apps for your smart phone or PC to help you schedule your boss it back plan and you’ll even get daily reminders. Apps that I have used and like are: HabitBull, HabitList and GoalsOnTrack.

Break the old habit of winging it and flying by the seat of your pants. Start a new habit by scheduling time each day to boss it back. Maybe this means setting aside time to conduct exposure experiments and doing at least one thing every day that scares your OCD. I’ve included a link that will give you worksheets to help you formulate your exposures. How about scheduling time each day to listen to your loop tape for a week?  Read more about loop tapes here. If you need additional help let me know! There are also detailed scripts for loop tapes in the back of Jonathan Grayson’s book. (See my Resource page @ bossitback.com.)

  1. Not celebrating your victories

How can you rewire your brain if you don’t let it know when something great just happened? No matter how little you think the victory is, celebrate it. If your brain exaggerates threats it can also exaggerate victories! Happiness can be taught! OCD can be fought! If you resist a compulsion or face something you’ve been avoiding, CELEBRATE!!! Be proactive and make a list of all the many ways you could celebrate. If you’re having trouble thinking of ideas, how would you tell a friend to celebrate? Ask a friend for ideas. Make it fun and put each different way to celebrate on a separate slip of paper. Put all the slips in a jar and pick one when it’s time to celebrate. Check out this playlist of celebratory songs here.

Break the old habit of failing to recognize your victories. Your brain needs positive feedback when you break bad habits. If you give it negative feedback, “Oh I’m not celebrating something I should have been able to do a long time ago,” then you’re brain can’t rewire! Sing, dance, laugh…Here’s that video of me dancercising that I promised you. Sorry it’s kind of blurry!

 

Why Accountability is the Best Thing Since Sliced Bread

accountability

One of the most effective ways to gain power over OCD and get super determined to “Boss it Back” is to get an Accountability Partner. Accountability breeds determination!

First figure out who you want to be, and what it is you want to change or achieve. In 2016, I’m going to try out something new. Instead of setting New Year’s resolutions, that I end up drifting from, I’m going to use this blueprint and review it every 90 days with my Accountability Partners:

DESIGN YOUR LIFE BLUEPRINT

  1. The Purpose of my life is…
  2. My outer mission is…
  3. My inner mission is…
  4. The highest values I live and make decisions by are…
  5. My top goals for the next 90 days concerning health, spirituality, relationships, business and adventure….
  6. Books or podcasts I will use to enrich my life…
  7. Morning and evening habits I will stop or start.
  8. Daily routines will include…(e.g., Gratitude exercise, meditation, physical exercise.)

SHARE WITH AN ACCOUNTABILITY PARTNER

Once you have the details of your blueprint it’s important to share it with someone. That person is called an Accountability Partner. When choosing a partner or partners:

  1. Look for someone who will challenge you but not condemn you. Accountability is not forced but chosen.
  2. Pick someone who is emotionally resilient and positive. You want someone who won’t accept excuses, will ask hard questions but won’t belittle or give up on you.
  3. It’s helpful to pick someone who has had some success in the areas you are working on. You want someone who can help problem-solve.
  4. It’s actually a good idea to find more than one partner.
  5. As a team or individually talk at least online weekly and meet every 90 days.
  6. When you talk with your Accountability Partner, BE HONEST!

Cheers to “Bossing it Back” stronger and faster than ever before!