Category Archives: How to Trick OCD

The Top 8 Reasons Why Resisting Compulsions Can Backfire

I tried to resist compulsions before, and it didn’t work. I felt worse! Why should I try again?

resist compulsive behavior
You can’t choose your thoughts but you can choose your reaction.

Resisting compulsive behavior and mental acts is a long process. The process has a beginning, middle and no end. At any time during the process you can:

  • expect to have setbacks
  • anticipate having POLS (Persistent, On-fire, Lasting, Sinking- feelings)
  • doubt resisting is worth the pain and agony
  • continue to have unwanted, intrusive thoughts even though you’re resisting compulsions

Contemplate this truth: Resisting compulsions is going to be the worst and best thing you’ve ever done.

In the beginning, more times than not you will think, “Resisting compulsions isn’t working.” If you think it’s not working, does that make it real? Does it mean you’re not getting better if you don’t feel better?

Does it mean you’re getting better only if you feel better? Such as when you’re performing a mental act or compulsion. Upon completion, you probably have some relief.  It’s only temporary, but let’s admit it, briefly, you feel better. Does that mean you’re getting better because you’re feeling better?

Not at all. To get better, you’re not going to feel better at first. Is that okay with you? Will you commit to resisting compulsions even though you’re going to have POLS? Besides, when you’re performing compulsions, you still have POLS.

Do this now: Put your hand on your heart and vow to do whatever it takes to get healthy. 

“That’s easier said than done.”

Of course! You’ve performed your rituals and mental acts to the point of automation. In other words, you’ve habituated to your compulsions. You’ve gotten used to them. Breaking a habit is hard! Does that mean you shouldn’t break it?

There is an excellent technique for this kind of automatic compulsive behavior. I call it “recontaminating the scene of the crime.” The crime is the compulsion. So whatever the compulsion “fixed,” your job is to unfix it. Recontaminate the scene by reintroducing the anxiety. For example, if you:

  • counted car door handles before you pulled out of a parking space, pull back into the spot and this time back out without looking at the car door handles.
  • sanitized after touching a doorknob, go back and touch the doorknob and resist washing.
  • rewound and replayed a conversation you had earlier to see if you said something bad, go ahead and say something bad.
  • scanned the environment to see if you dropped identifying information about yourself, drop part of your social security number in the parking lot and walk away.
  • checked the faucet too many times, turn the faucet back on and let it drip. Walk away. Don’t check.

The most critical part of recontaminating the scene is what you say to OCD while you’re doing it. Your words must be tough. Like this, “Oh yeah OCD? You think something bad is going to happen now that I recontaminated? OK OCD. Whatever happens, happens. Time will tell.”

Resisting compulsions is going to be the worst thing you’ve ever done. It’s also going to be the best thing you’ve ever done.

The Top 8 Reasons Why Resisting Compulsive Behavior Can Backfire

#1   Did you resist compulsions for the right reason?

The reason to resist compulsions is not to get rid of unwanted thoughts or anxiety. That can be the prize but never the goal. Put your nose to the grindstone—focus heavily on the work not the bonus.

The right reason to resist compulsions is to learn how to be incredibly strong, perceptive and empathic. It’s the exercise of learning that is life-changing. Resist compulsions because you like working hard to learn how to be grateful and optimistic in dark times. Value the challenge, not the reward. 

#2   Did you think Control was all you needed?

“I can control my thoughts” is the same thing as saying “I can control my compulsions.” The name of the game is not CONTROL. Trying to control is what got you into this mess. It’s about surrender. Read on.

Don’t expect to control: Frantic Effort to Avoid Reality

#3   Did you put in an honest day’s work?

You need a strong work ethic. What is a strong work ethic? Stop asking others to help feed OCD with reassurance or safety behaviors. Be more cooperative with your team. Just because you don’t like what they’re telling you doesn’t mean you shouldn’t hear them out. 

Compulsive behavior
Dive in. This is no time to wait.

If you don’t put in the time, then the work won’t get done. Get a lot of therapy done each day. Be productive. This is no time to avoid—or be idle. You’re in the fight of your life. Climb your exposure hierarchy with a vengeance. Get to it!

Even after you’ve climbed your hierarchy go back and climb it again. Find some other fears to face. It’s how you keep your brain sharp and your OCD dull. This is a life-style, not a one shot fix.

People who have a strong work ethic are led by values—not fear. They are distinguished from others by their dedication, integrity, and self-discipline. Put your nose to the grindstone and focus heavily on your therapy. Let nothing get in your way of an honest day’s work.

Are you: Finding Excuses And Reasons?

The Top 8 Reasons Why Resisting Compulsive Behavior Can Backfire

#4     Was there a pity party goin’ on? 

If you think it’s unfair that you have OCD then your ability to power up and find strength will be quite limited. The sooner you accept you have this neurological condition and do something about it—the sooner you will do something about it!

Asking, “why is this happening to me” is not going to get you anywhere but deeper into the hole. When you’re resisting compulsions, you have to talk tough. “Oh yeah, OCD? You think if I don’t do this compulsion something bad will happen? Well, time will tell. Whatever happens, I’ll deal with it. I’d rather take the risk than live like this.”

You’re in the fight of your life. Stop wishing you weren’t. It is what it is. If you think like a victim, you will feel like a victim and then act like a victim. Wipe “I wish” from your vocabulary. Stop saying “I can’t.” Yes, you can.

Watch out for: Failure Expected And Received

#5   Did you enter the combat zone unwillingly or hesitantly?

Did you enter your OCD recovery program with boots on the ground? If you knew your loved one in the military didn’t go into combat yelling “BOOYAH” and instead was pleading, “No please…” you’d question his or her readiness. Can you afford to have OCD question your readiness?

compulsive behavior
Booyah! Let’s go! Now!

The moment your eyes open—your feet hit the floor, you are in COMBAT.  YOU NEED TO HIT THE FLOOR RUNNING. Resist compulsions and stick to the plan. Feelings don’t matter in combat. Second guessing your mission won’t save your life.

To help you remember BOOTS on the GROUND put a pair of old unused boots near your bed. Look at them when you wake up and remember you’re entering a combat zone. Until you master the skill of resisting compulsions, you’re in the fight of your life.

Drills develop skills. You’ll get good at whatever you practice. You can’t build skills on the run. Stay and fight.

Don’t: Forget Everything [you’ve learned] And Run!

#6   You didn’t surrender during the combat.

Resisting compulsions is not the traditional combat zone. Your combat is different. For you to outwit and outplay OCD, you need to proudly fly a white flag that reveals you’re surrendering.  

resist compulsive behavior
This is not how to resist! OCD is just as stubborn as the donkey!

Whatever OCD says might happen if you resist a compulsion, nod your head and agree. “Yes, maybe that is so. Time will tell. Whatever happens, happens. I will deal with it. It will be horrible, but I will handle it.”

After all, this ain’t your first rodeo. You’ve been through plenty of real-life situations. And you probably dealt with them better than most.

You’re really good in an actual crisis. It’s the things in your imagination that creep you out. But when push comes to shove, you’re the one who holds your head above water while others are drowning.

YOU ‘RE SO FREAKIN’ STRONG! BOOYAH!

Do: Face Everything And Rise!

The Top 8 Reasons Why Resisting Compulsive Behavior Can Backfire

#7    Did you stay in the moment?

OCD is the most significant force you will ever be up against. It knows what you fear. It will work very hard to keep you from ever having to feel that fear. OCD is not your enemy. It’s trying to protect you from feeling afraid.

Just because you’re afraid doesn’t mean something is wrong. But, OCD doesn’t know this! Just because you’re startled or anxious—it doesn’t mean stop.

If it’s not happening, now…it’s not happening. Stay in the moment. Live one moment to the next. OCD has no clue what this means. Do you?

“In this moment, right here, right now I’m pretty okay.”

Did you: Forget Everything’s [Actually] All Right?

Contemplate this truth until you understand it clearly: OCD doesn’t get the meaning of anxiety or weird thoughts. It can’t differentiate reality from imagination. You can’t count on OCD to lead the way.

#8   Did you give up too soon?

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will
When the road you’re trodding seems all uphill
When care is pressing you down a bit
Rest if you must, but don’t you quit
Oh, no, don’t you quit
Whoa, no

Success is failure turned inside out
The silver tint on the clouds of doubt
But you never can tell how close you are
It may be near when it seems so far, ooh
Gotta stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit
And when things go wrong, oh, you must not quit
Oh, no, don’t you quit

You got to stick to the fight
When you’re hardest hit
And when things go wrong
No, oh, no, don’t you quit

Don’t give up the fight
Don’t give up
You better not give up the fight
Don’t give up
Oh, no, no
  ~Caron Wheeler “Don’t Quit”

No Matter What, Stick To It

It takes a lot of patience, intention, and mindfulness. Arm yourself with inspirational stories of people who persevered and carried on even in the face of difficulty or adversity.

Think of all the famous stories we know about people who had stick-to-it-ness. Your story is no different.

  • Even after failing to land a role and being called too ugly, most Academy Award nominations, Meryl Streep never gave up on acting.
  • Steven Spielberg was rejected by the USA film school three times.
  • After his first performance, Elvis Presley was told, “You ought to go back to driving a truck.”
  • Dr. Seuss was turned down by over 25 different publishers.
  • At age 30, Steve Jobs was fired from the company he founded.
  • Ludwig Van Beethoven’s music teacher said he was hopeless.
  • Oprah Winfrey was told she “wasn’t fit for television.”
The ingredients for success
Inspiration, opportunity, creativity, patience, resilience, vision…All of this equals results.

The Day You Quit Is The Day You Were Going to Win!

  • Thomas Edison’s teacher told him he couldn’t learn anything.
  • Colonel Sanders became a world-known figure by marketing his “finger lickin good” Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC). His recipe was rejected over 1,000 times before it was given a chance.
  • Before winning six NBA championships and receiving five Most Valuable Player awards, Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team. 
  • The Beatles were rejected by a recording studio that said, “They have no future in show business.” 
  • And Albert Einstein’s parents and teachers said he would never amount to much.

The secret ingredient all of the above people had is stick-to-it-ness. This ingredient is available to you too.

Contemplate this truth: A setback is a setup for a breakthrough.

Yes, Face Everything And Rejoice!
Today’s Best Advice On How to Resist Compulsions:

If you’re struggling with resisting compulsions, review the above 8 principles and see which ones need improvement. Don’t quit. Keep at it. Resisting compulsions is a marathon comprised of a series of sprints. 

resist compulsions
The storm clears eventually.

You are the blue sky. It may seem cloudy and the thunder may roll, but the blue sky always, always comes back.

This post concludes the series, “The Best Advice on How to Resist Compulsions.” Let me know which one(s) helped you the most. If I overlooked a topic that you have questions about please ltell me in the comment section! Other topics covered in this series:
Forget Compulsions Try This Instead

Do Compulsions Really Save Lives?

It’s not easy to resist compulsions when you think they save lives.

But wait a minute…are you on a mission to save lives? Wow, that’s extraordinary! What a stunning and exceptional way to live. 

That’s not how you feel though is it? Saving lives with compulsions is a heavy burden. It’s like having a young version of you on one shoulder and an adult version on the other. And, they just argue back and forth all day long about what’s real and what isn’t.

There’s a part of you that knows the compulsions…all the mental acts, repetitive movements, counting, sanitizing, checking, can’t really control whether someone lives or dies. But, then there’s this other part of you that just isn’t sure. 

The voice of OCD can be so convincing even in the presence of absurdity. “That toothpick on the sidewalk could cause someone to die of a prolonged muscle spasm.” It’s ridiculous but your anxiety is so high that you go back and pick up the toothpick.

What can you do to resist compulsions when you think they save lives?

  • Confront the absurdity with even more absurdity 
  • Admit you’re not qualified to save lives
  • Stick to your own set of rules, not OCD’s
  • Ask people if they want to be saved by you

Absurdity Meets Absurdity

It’s hard for you to be willing to see what happens if you resist compulsions. Part of you says nothing would happen. You’re definitely not 100% sure that compulsions save lives.

Resist Compulsions
This is something OCD would want!

Let’s challenge the thought that compulsions prevent bad things from happening with sarcasm. If there’s one thing that silences OCD, it’s humor or sarcasm. It’s a fantastic way to outwit OCD.

So with tongue-in-cheek and a bit of mockery, let’s throw OCD off its game with sarcasm and a few paradigm shifts.

Example of a paradigm shift: 

“I don’t touch pictures of poison because I will get contaminated and spread it to other people.”

“Wow! that’s impressive. Then all we have to do is send pictures of poison to members of Isis to end terrorism.”

Sarcasm is a great way to take charge of OCD. So here comes a lot of sarcasm and I hope no one gets offended except, of course, OCD!

Question Your Authority to Save Lives

“My Compulsions Save Lives”
Resist compulsions
What Makes You An Authority?

Paradigm shift: Wonderful! I’d like to save lives too! How can I sign-up? Where did you get your training? How did you get licensed or certified to save lives with compulsions?

Do You Have a License to Save Lives?

People in the business of saving lives have credentials to do so. Take for example the credentials of a lifeguard:

  • Must meet an age requirement
  • Approximately 35 hours of lifeguard training must be completed to learn water rescue techniques. In addition, the student must learn how to surveil a body of water and how to evaluate each swimmer’s aquatic abilities. The student is also taught when s/he is not required to enter unsafe waters.
  • Obtain professional rescuer First Aid Certification
  • Swim 300 yards, tread for 2 minutes and dive 7-10 feet to retrieve a brick
  • Perform all skills with 100% accuracy
  • Pass a written test proving you understand and can implement appropriate responses

What are the requirements someone like you must meet in order to save lives? Is there any proof that you know what you’re doing?

This list isn’t exhaustive or in any particular order, but just look at all the people who save lives:
  • military personnel
  • law enforcement
  • firefighters
  • microbiology scientists who thwart unstoppable microbes
  • scientists who monitor vaults that hold the seeds of all plants we need in case of a global catastrophe
  • asteroid trackers who keep an eye on possible collisions
  • seismologist and volcanologist who predict earthquakes and tsunamis
  • faith leaders who mediate conflict and feed the hungry
  • disaster preparedness specialists
  • hospital quality assurance officers and inspectors
  • correctional officers
  • criminal investigators
  • security guards 
  • park rangers
  • nurses and certified nursing assistants
  • public health department specialists and centers for disease control personnel
  • doctors and therapists
  • EMT and paramedics
  • ambulance dispatchers and 911 operators
  • ambulance drivers/attendants
  • hazmat removal, waste management, and nuclear energy engineers

Paradigm Shift: If compulsions save lives, why isn’t the job of “Compulsive Behavior Specialist II” included in the above list? Why can’t we find your job in the want ads? Shouldn’t colleges offer Compulsive Behavior as a major?

Resist Compulsions
Who needs qualifications?

It looks as though all the people above who save lives have qualifications. What are yours? It’s just a feeling you have? “I’ve got a feeling” is not recognized anywhere as a credential. I think that’s called something like hocus-pocus. Would you let someone operate on your brain until it feels just right? If you were told to evacuate your city because somebody has a feeling there’s going to be an earthquake, would you leave?

Willy-Nilly Compulsions

Do you ever feel like you’re just shooting from the hip; making it up as you go along? I mean, there’s no consistency to what you’re doing to prevent harm. There are times you skip the compulsions that supposedly save lives. And, nothing happens!

You check locks and electrical cords but buy nonorganic food. Even if you do buy organic, because of the wind factor, do you make sure the organic strawberries are 50 miles away from the field that uses the pesticide Round-Up?

If you truly believe you are responsible for saving lives, then you’d never be able to sleep, go to work, school or just have fun. There’s just too much to do. You can never do enough to protect people from harm. No matter how hard you try, it will never be enough.

So OCD actually gives you a break and tells you that you only have to save certain lives. And, that you don’t have to save them from everything…just some things. How nice of OCD to be very selective about who and how to save people.

Anybody else who was so inconsistent would be called sketchy! OCD is evasive and lacks consistency for a reason–so it can hide the truth about compulsions.

What Are Your Guiding Principles?

Every single person who is in the professional business of saving lives is required to follow guidelines. If they don’t they’re reprimanded or fired.

What are your guiding principles? Do you have a manual of policies and procedures that you follow for your life-saving compulsions? Who was your mentor? I don’t know anybody that professionally who hasn’t been taught by someone else!

Hospitals are in the business of saving lives. They have rules and regulations to follow. Within the hospital is a Quality Control Unit that conducts audits and inspections to make sure policies and procedures are in place and being followed. 

In order to save lives, people follow a professional code of conduct. Look at all that is involved in saving lives:

  • rules and regulations set by lawmakers
  • professional standards and ethics
  • competency training and testing
  • periodic performance evaluations
  • re-attestations for professional licenses and/or certifications
  • continuing education credit requirements for professional development
  • physical and/or psychological exams results 
  • background checks and drug screenings
  • malpractice insurance companies
Resist compulsions
Willy-Nilly Hocus-Pocus!

Not only have you had no training you also have no code of professional conduct. Everything you do is willy-nilly. Your compulsions are not based on policies and procedures from best practice standards. You make them up as you go along based on how you feel in the moment. That’s OCD at work.

Paradigm Shift: Until you attend some kind of Academy for Compulsive Behaviors we can’t take you seriously. You have a lot of work to do before you’ll be considered qualified to save lives.

If you would like to become certified in saving lives with compulsions, you must first pass this quiz prior to enrolling in the Academy for Compulsive Behaviors:

Override OCD With Your Own Set of Rules

If you rely on OCD to tell you what to do about your anxiety, you’ll engage in compulsive behavior. It will be much easier to resist compulsions if you commit to following a set of rules that the adult-sized version believes in!

Let’s say a local college wants to start offering a major in Compulsive Behaviors. They recognize all your efforts to save lives with compulsions and ask you, the expert, to write policies and procedures, to teach students when it’s justified to use a compulsion.

As you write this policy and procedure consider the following: 

#1) If you see/hear/think/feel something that makes you want to prevent something bad from happening with a compulsion…ask, is it worthy of calling 911?

People tend to call 911 if an airway is obstructed, or a person can’t stand up or walk straight, is bleeding profusely or in severe pain. People don’t call 911 if they think they gave someone a germ.

Unless there’s a cry for help or it’s 911-worthy why would you intervene with a compulsion? 

What about the newspaper that could fly up on a car’s windshield. Shouldn’t I go back and get it? Is it 911-worthy? No. Then leave it, walk away and tolerate the anxiety.

Manuals Give Directions On How to Do Something. Where’s Your Manual?

#2) In a room full of 100 people, how many would be worrying like you? How many would use a compulsion to address this worry?

An action is considered “reasonable” (some people use the word “normal” but I don’t know what that is) when the majority of people in the same circumstance would behave in the same way. (If you can’t figure out what the majority would do then how about the most reasonable person you know–what would s/he do?)

Would the majority of waitresses check to see if it’s shards of glass or ice in people’s water? Do most customers walk through aisles in the grocery store scanning for expired food? Is it common for people to count to a certain number to prevent bad things from happening? If the answer is no…shrug and walk away.

Compulsions Aren’t Reasonable!

#3) If you believe your compulsive behaviors save lives, then why don’t you recommend them to other people? Whatever is applicable to you is applicable to others. If compulsions work for you then they should work for everybody else. 

I have to count when I go through doorways or something bad will happen. If my elbow touches a surface, I have to touch the same thing with my other elbow to prevent bad things. Okay, then everybody should do this.

Ever Wondered Why There Is No Manual On “How to Do a Compulsion?”

#4) If you take this action will you actually be increasing the risk of harm?

OCD is all about preventing something bad from happening right? HA! Nope. The problem with that assumption is that OCD knows nothing about life. OCD is about 2 or 3 years old so I hardly think there are years of experience to draw upon to know how to prevent bad things from happening. Usually, OCD is causing harm–not preventing it.

Excessive handwashing removes good bacteria, thereby lowering the immune system and increasing the risk of illness. Driving back to see if someone has been hit means more time on the road. More time on the road means a higher risk of an accident. Switching a light on and off to make sure it’s off only increases the wear and tear on the switch. 

Compulsions Increase Risk

#5) If you have the ability to save lives then you must use your compulsions to save more lives than you currently focus on. It doesn’t make sense that if you truly have this ability you should be selective about it. Why not save the world?

Resist compulsions
Capes are on sale this month!

From now on you must go to the pediatric intensive care unit at the local hospital and use your compulsions to save the lives of precious children. When you’re done there write an email to Dr. Oz and ask to be on his show so that you can share the good that you’re doing.

It’s not fair that you don’t go big with your compulsions. Offer televised healing meetings. People from all over the world will come to you for your healing compulsions.

Face It, You Can Never Do Enough to Protect People

#6) Are you following a chain of authority or stepping out of bounds?

  • Scanning the shelves at work I look for loose screws and then report them to maintenance. Maintenance doesn’t tighten them. I keep reporting them. I just don’t want anyone to get hurt.” It’s not your responsibility to do what you’re doing. Let the maintenance department do their job in the manner they see fit. 
  • “I noticed people in a food court were drinking iced tea known to have fluoride in it. A pre-typed leaflet warning of the dangers of fluoride is left by me at each table. I carry these leaflets everywhere I go.” It’s not up to you to educate the general population. People can educate themselves. 
  • To avoid getting my baby sick I pass by him when I get home and jump in the shower for an hour. I hug him only when I am clean. It’s the pediatrician’s job to tell you how to introduce the right amount of dirt and germs to build the immune system. A pediatrician will never tell you to NOT allow germs and dirt!
  • I purchased 50 smoke detectors to inspect the date they were manufactured. The smoke detectors are returned in perfect condition with a note I tucked inside each box: “Make sure you replace batteries using the date the detector was manufactured not purchased.” It’s up to the consumer to read the directions provided by the company.
  • Out of the blue, I thought of my 18-year-old son and suddenly felt he was in danger so I counted 1-2-3-4, 1-2-3-4, 1-2-3-4 until I felt he was safe. Your son is old enough to take care of himself. It’s not your job.

    Compulsions Don’t Save Lives They Rob You of Life

    Let this sink in: 

    You’ve gone rogue. You’re not credentialed or authorized to save lives with compulsions. You have no formal training on the use of compulsions. You’re self-taught. There are no policies or procedures that justify your actions. You’re overstepping your bounds. People don’t want you to save them!

Have You Asked If They Want To Be Saved?

Resist compulsions
People have a right to say no thank you!

If you asked your loved ones, they’d risk their lives than watch you be a slave to your compulsions.  They would never give you permission to perform compulsions in an effort to save them. 

Yet, you don’t listen to them. This is known as paternalism; it’s the practice of governing others. You preside over, be in charge of and make decisions for other people. When you’re being paternalistic people are deprived of the right to self-determination; the right to determine one’s own destiny.

And, I bet paternalism goes against your value system. You don’t really believe you should control other people’s lives and deprive them of making their own decisions. That’s not really who you are.

It’s your aversion to anxiety that makes you become paternalistic.

When you learn to experience anxiety and allow uncertainty to exist, there will no longer be any need for compulsions. Be willing to find out what happens from moment to moment. One moment at a time…

Your loved ones don’t want you to save them. They see what it costs you. Ask them if they want you engaging in all these safety behaviors. They’ll tell you no thanks. And it’s their right to make that decision.

You don’t have the credentials to save lives. You’ve had no training. Other people in the business of saving lives have taken competency tests; not you.

And…you also have not been given permission by your loved ones to perform compulsions on their behalf.

Let this sink in: 

You’ve gone rogue. You’re not credentialed or authorized to save lives with compulsions. You have no formal training on the use of compulsions. You’re self-taught. There are no policies or procedures that justify your actions. You’re overstepping your bounds. It’s time to transfer responsibility back where it belongs.

Today’s Best Advice On How to Resist Compulsions:

Use sarcasm and humor to outwit OCD. Meet absurdity with absurdity.

Resisting compulsions

Is it okay to use a distraction to resist 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

Beat OCD: The Best Advice On How to Resist Compulsions

There’s More to Being Compulsion-Free Than Just Stopping

How to stop excessive hand washing.
I’ll be done soon…

Have you ever been in the middle of a compulsion and someone said: “Just knock it off!” And you replied, “If it was that easy don’t you think I would just stop?” The best advice on how to resist compulsions doesn’t include to, “just knock it off.”

Very, very few people with OCD can go cold turkey and “just knock it off.” So many times people have said to me, “I’m just going to stop all of it. Right now. No more compulsions.” They mean it with all their heart. And then they walk to their car performing compulsions.

Going Cold Turkey Has Little to Do With Staying Compulsion-Free

If you want to know what it feels like to just knock it off and go cold turkey, it’s like dumping all kinds of poison in a sess pool and sitting in it. Taking your hands and putting the slop all over your face and body. Breathing it in and doing nothing to save yourself.

If you sat there long enough, believe it or not, you’d become desensitized. But, just like any kind of sobriety, the urge will return. You’ll still want to perform a compulsion. 

There’s more to being compulsion-free than just stopping.

The Best Advice On How to Resist Compulsions

Put an end to your compulsions by applying these seven principles:

  1. It’s “whatever” therapy! Talk to your OCD in a nonargumentative manner. “Yup, maybe that will happen. Time will tell.”  Don’t reassure OCD. Instead, shrug and say “This could be unpleasant. I’ll just have to find out.” It’s all about the “whatever.”  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯  If you can trick your brain into thinking you’re smiling with a pen sideways in your mouth, you can trick your brain into thinking “whatever” with a shrug!
  2. Build a hierarchy. Resist the easiest compulsion first and keep resisting until it no longer bothers you to resist. Then, like climbing a ladder, resist the next hardest compulsion and the next hardest and so forth.
  3. Set your intentions to provoke OCD. Confront a trigger you’ve been avoiding. While confronting the trigger refuse to do a compulsion. Talk to OCD as described in #1. Once this trigger no longer bothers you, move onto the next more difficult trigger. 
    Apply These Principles to End Compulsions
  4. Easiest first, then hard. If you give in and perform a compulsion, go back and confront the same trigger again and again until there is no compulsive behavior. If you’re stuck, maybe there’s an easier trigger that you skipped or need to go back to.
  5. Don’t stop ’til you reach the top. Build momentum. Keep moving up the ladder of challenges. When it gets easier, ask yourself, “How can I make this harder?” Remember, climb the ladder while always refusing to do a compulsion. 
  6. Shift into challenge mode. Wishing you did not have OCD or have certain thoughts is of no use to you. Wishing causes more suffering. It’s important to see your anxiety and thoughts as a challenge–an opportunity to practice your skills. This is no time to play the role of a victim. You don’t have to like anxiety but you do have to want it.
  7. Accept responsibility. If you give into a compulsive behavior, admit what you are doing. No excuses. Own it. Name it. Keep away from the “story” of why your OCD tells you to do the compulsion. “I’m choosing to feed my OCD right now. I know this will make OCD stronger. I’m avoiding discomfort and that’s the only reason why I’m choosing to do this compulsion.” Get this message to your brain every single time you do a compulsion!
Resist compulsions
Creating new pathways takes time

Applying these principles will keep you compulsion-free. It’s a slow and difficult place to start, but once you pick up some momentum it gets easier and therefore, goes faster. Rather than shocking your brain, you are rewiring it. This takes time!

It takes time because you are training your brain how to experience anxiety.

I don’t tell my clients to “knock it off!”  And, I hope those who love someone with OCD don’t say it either! There’s more to beating OCD than just “knocking it off.”

Resist Compulsions by Making Little Changes Over Time

People with OCD benefit from the very effective systematic method of resisting compulsions. Set reachable goals and make little changes over a period of time. With each success, you will grow more confident and more tolerant of anxiety.

It may take time and patience, (click for video) but it’s how you win the battle. At the suggestion of resisting compulsions, do you take a big gulp and say, “I’m getting anxious just thinking about it.” My response to more anxiety? “Great! You need the practice!”

It’s time to learn how to experience anxiety without a compulsion.

You can get started today! The first step, of course, is to identify each compulsion. You’ve got to know what you’re resisting, in order to resist!

Today’s Best Advice On How to Resist Compulsions:

For a long-term effect, commit to a systematic plan to stop compulsions. Include all of the above seven principles in your plan. Going cold turkey has little to do with staying compulsion-free. 

Check back for the next post which will explain the difference between an observable compulsion and a mental compulsion. It’s important to know the difference because mental compulsions can be very sneaky!

Resisting compulsions
Everything you ever wanted to know about how to resist compulsions

The next several posts on resisting compulsions will include:

  • What Is a Compulsion?
  • The True Purpose of a Compulsion
  • If a Compulsion Makes Me Feel Better, Why Would I Stop?
  • I Already Tried Resisting and It Didn’t Help
  • Can You Promise If I Resist It Will Help?
  • I’ve Got Way Too Much Anxiety to Resist Compulsions
  • It’s Too Risky to Stop My Compulsions, Someone Else Could Be Hurt
  • Is it Okay If I Use Distraction to Resist Compulsions?
  • Resisting Compulsions Just Doesn’t Feel Right
  • My Compulsions Are Out of Habit Not Fear
  • If I Stop One Compulsion Another One Will Just Pop Up
  • How Do I Find the Strength and Willpower to Resist Compulsions When I Don’t Have the Energy?
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. In addition to the topics mentioned above, I’ll be sure to address your questions and give you…

The Best Advice On How to Resist Compulsions

How to Outsmart OCD (Hint: It’s Weird and Wonderful)

There is a weird and wonderful way to outsmart OCD. Weird because it’s uncanny and counterintuitive. Wonderful because it’s so amazingly effective.

In order to outsmart OCD it’s important to first understand it. It helps to know what makes OCD tick. So before we jump into ways to outsmart it, let’s reveal its true nature. 

imagesIs OCD a Bully?

OCD isn’t a bully. A bully would try to humiliate you. OCD is obsessed about protecting you from humiliation. A bully would try to make a fool of you in public. OCD doesn’t want you to look like a fool in public.

Unlike a bully, the last thing OCD wants is for you to feel humiliated.

Bullies want to make you uncomfortable. OCD wants you to find comfort. That’s why OCD hates uncertainty, because it makes you uncomfortable. OCD persuades you to do compulsions or mental acts to get rid of discomfort. Unlike a bully, the last thing OCD wants is for you to experience anxiety.

Bullies try to physically and emotionally hurt you. On the contrary, OCD is like a bodyguard, constantly scanning the environment making sure nothing bad can happen or hurt you. A bully pokes and pokes until you bleed. OCD is scared of you bleeding.

Bullies enjoy picking on people. It brings them joy. OCD doesn’t ever experience joy. Everything is doom and gloom according to OCD. Bullies get sadistic pleasure out of putting people down. OCD puts you down not to inflict pain but to keep your expectations low so that you don’t ever feel the pain of disappointment.

OCD isn’t a bully. It’s a bodyguard on steroids.

Why Not Think of OCD as a Bully?

160_f_99747725_ccjio6av1pfpgso73m4bos6nsx2pr83uWhat does it matter if you think of OCD as a bully or a bodyguard?

Because, if you think of OCD as a bully, you’re feeding a victim mentality. If you think like a victim, you’ll feel like a victim and then you’ll act like a victim. 

What kind of people have bodyguards? Powerful people. People worth a lot. People with influence.

Is it better to think of yourself as someone who is important enough to be guarded or someone who is a victim and being bullied? Which mentality is going to put more oomph in your punch?

OCD is overly protective. Knowing this and using this weakness will be part of our strategy to outsmart it. Another personality trait of OCD’s is that it’s extremely competitive.

The More You Know About OCD, the Better You Can Outsmart It

OCD is Not a Good Sport

OCD doesn’t play fair. It doesn’t accept defeat. It won’t congratulate you on your victories. Your tendency towards negative self-talk plays right into OCD’s hands.

OCD is extremely competitive. The game never ends. Just when the game is tied, it scores again and keeps you in overtime. It wants to wear you down.  It pumps its fist when you cry out, “give me a break!” Think about this for a minute. Why does it want you to lose?

OCD wants you to lose more than it wants to win. Why?

It doesn’t think your loss is harmful to you. On the contrary, it sees your loss as helpful to you. As long as you keep losing (giving in to OCD) then you will continue to see it as an authority. As long as you see it as an authority you will defer to it and by the grace of OCD supposedly be kept safe from harm or ill-will.

160_F_22448988_AeAszQACa4W74iTlgpGB0SdgLVAAykJzOCD doesn’t have much strategy in its game because, it can’t use logic or reason. It’s very reptilian in nature. Fight, Flight or Freeze. That’s all it can do, which isn’t much of a strategy. the only strategy it has is to cheat and lie. It tells you that if you do what it says, you will find peace of mind. That’s the lie.

It cheats by asking you unanswerable questions. The questions it asks cannot be answered with certainty. But, it lies to you and tells you that you can get to the bottom of it if you search hard and long enough. Cheater! You might as well be counting the grains of sand on a beach.

OCD doesn’t give up easily. It’s too competitive. All it wants is to make sure you lose. But, remember this, it can’t win unless you play. It can’t win unless you lose. 

OCD is a bodyguard on steroids. It’s highly competitive and a poor loser. But, here’s something else about OCD that we can use in our strategy to outsmart it. It’s nothing like you.

cropped-Boss_It_2.pngOCD is the Opposite of You

OCD is not a mirror reflection of you. In this instance OCD sounds like a bully. Because, bullies always pick on people who are nothing like them. e.g., The jock picks on the nerd. You are the exact opposite of your OCD.

But, again, OCD isn’t picking on you. It’s trying really hard to think of all the things you’re not normally aware of. Why? Because it’s trying to prevent something bad from happening. It thinks about topics you don’t normally think about. It’s like having a second pair of eyes with a mind of its own.

OCD leaves no stone unturned. It brings up random questions that at first seem so bizarre. OCD actually searches for unusual questions and situations. But, it’s particularly fond of asking questions about whatever is precious and sacred to you.

It’s constantly scanning and searching so that you are never caught off guard. Because if you are caught off guard you will be uncomfortable. And OCD doesn’t want you to be uncomfortable.

OCD is hyper. It’s overly protective. It hates to lose. It’s constantly on guard and tries to think of everything. But, here’s something fascinating about OCD. It can’t learn anything new.

Figure Out What Makes OCD Tick and You’ll Practically Stop the Ticking

OCD is Clueless

OCD asks a lot of questions because it’s trying to protect you. And, it’s trying to protect you because it’s void of any information. It doesn’t know anything. It knows nothing. And worse, it can’t be taught anything.

Even if its questions are answered it will keep asking the same question over and over. Because it can’t absorb or hold on to information. It’s incapable of learning anything new. It can’t retain anything

For example, for those of you who have unwanted, intrusive thoughts of harm, I just told you up above that you are nothing like your OCD. You probably got some temporary relief from reading that.

But, you won’t be able to retain that piece of good news. You might return to this blog everyday to read the above paragraph, “OCD is the Opposite of You.” It doesn’t matter how many times you read that paragraph.

In just a matter of seconds you’re going to go back to worrying that you are your thoughts. You’re going to think that because you think it, you’ll do it. Even though you’ve been reassured many times that you are not your thoughts.

160_f_109258768_fx1jn3w0cu3h1bemw6xp075dpbkanb3tOCD can’t hold on to information. So you can be reassured all day long and the good news won’t stick. OCD is not like fly paper. OCD is clueless because it’s glue-less. Nothing sticks.

OCD is on guard because it’s clueless. It can’t retain information. It can’t use reason or logic. It won’t leave any stone unturned because it can’t learn anything new. But, it won’t stop trying because it’s competitive and doesn’t give up. It’s on a mission to supposedly save you.

There’s one more thing to know about OCD. 

8 Proven Ways to Outsmart OCD Will Soon Be Explained!

160_f_80220645_had2v7yekvlm48vise42a8guoy7f8hifOCD is Only One Part of You

OCD is part of your brain. Which part of your brain? It’s not really fully understood. Is it an imbalance of glutamate, dopamine or serotonin? Is the amygdala enlarged? Too much white matter in the brain? Some kind of miscommunication going on in the prefrontal cortex or the basal ganglia? Researchers can’t say with certainty.

We’re dealing with a faulty alarm system—that we can say with confidence. Something in the brain wrongfully sounds off alarms and the body needlessly goes into fight, flight or freeze. The fear seems so real.

The toothpick on the sidewalk might cause someone to trip. Pick it up. You pick it up and throw it in the lawn. Wait. A baby could crawl on the lawn and pick up the toothpick and die from choking on it. Pick it up. Put it in your pocket and when you get home, break it into tiny tiny pieces and bury it in 12 inches of dirt. 

That whole conversation is a true story of someone with OCD. This chatterbox in his head occurs because of some kind of abnormality or imbalance in the brain. But, listen carefully: Not everything is malfunctioning in the brain. 

I’ve been healing from an elbow injury. (Racquetball is tough on the body!) For awhile it was all I complained about—all I thought about. Finally somebody said to me, “You’re not just an elbow. Your elbow is only one part of you.” Thank you dear friend. I needed that! 

OCD is only part of a whole. There’s so much more to you. There are other beautiful parts of the brain that can function just fine. Your brain can be a lean mean fighting machine despite having OCD. 

brainworkoutLet’s Make Your Brain a Lean Mean Fighting Machine

Now that we understand what makes OCD tick, how can you outsmart it?

Download “8 Proven Ways to Outsmart OCD” Here!

A Skill Everyone with OCD Needs: Sitting

What does it mean to “sit with unwanted, intrusive thoughts” and how does someone with OCD do it? Especially when the thoughts are frequent and intense.

If you’re like most people you’ve got weird, sometimes scary thoughts. If you’ve got OCD, how you experience those thoughts can get very complicated and time-consuming. 

An OCD therapist won’t analyze your thoughts. Instead you’ll be shown how to “sit” with your thoughts. “Sitting” with your thoughts doesn’t necessarily involve a chair. It means “experiencing” your thoughts in an accepting way.

No matter how ugly or bad, just allow the thoughts to be in your mind. Do nothing compulsive to get rid of the thoughts. Do nothing to get rid of the anxiety that comes with the thoughts.

What follows is a conversation I often have with clients about how to sit with thoughts. Warning: This conversation may increase your anxiety. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)160_F_88915066_1sYtf7AaBRW7oQrfnvqHd9DFguwdyQSq

Client: My mind is a constant chatterbox. I’m not getting a break from my thoughts.

Me: What are the thoughts about?

Client: I’m worried I might hurt people. I know I never would in a million years. But, it’s the kind of OCD I have. I’m worried something bad will happen.

Me: Are those thoughts wanted?

Client: No! They’re totally unwanted!

Me: Are they intrusive?

Client: Believe me these thoughts interfere with my life. I can’t even concentrate.

Me: So they’re pushy. 160_F_51672290_vN6Fz6qCSl8iTh08mMoAOhndpJwF4ymp

While you’re trying to do other things the thoughts hammer away at you. Like a sideshow playing in your head?

Client: Yeah. It’s a sideshow and it’s not fun. I’m frightened by these thoughts. Sometimes it’s not just a show playing off to the side. It’s the only show playing in my head!

Me: So sometimes you aren’t doing anything else but having the thoughts.

Client: Yeah there are days I’m in an OCD trance.

Me: What are you trying to accomplish when you’re in this trance?

Client: I’m trying to feel certain that nothing bad happened or is going to happen. 160_F_74848595_0ay6BB5CpNyM7DvZTAC3IEuWKpSm3LEt

Me: You’ve spent 100’s of hours trying to get certainty?

Client: Probably 1000’s of hours.

Me: How’s it going? Have you achieved certainty about this yet?

Client: Not yet. Why? Is there another way to get rid of the sideshow?

Me: You can get rid of the sideshow by playing the sideshow.

Client: I don’t get it. You want me to voluntarily play the sideshow? This sideshow isn’t fun!160_F_2992219_D7LMNPunABCDj7qrFGQZa6UdABT0sF

Me: Yeah, gladly let the sideshow play. In fact, invite the thoughts.

Client: You want me to welcome the thoughts that scare me?

Me: It’s not the thoughts that scare you. It’s your interpretation of the thoughts that scare you. It’s the way you experience the thoughts. Lots of people get the same weird thoughts as you, but don’t get scared by them. OCD makes you experience the thoughts as if they’re real. You can change the way you experience the thoughts.

Client: Well, my OCD makes me think about hurting people. Don’t you think that’s pretty scary?

Me: Your OCD doesn’t make you think about hurting people. That sort of thought crosses everybody’s mind at one time or another. The way you experience such a thought…your opinion of that thought…that’s OCD.

Client: Well, I don’t like these thoughts and I’m trying to get rid of them. That’s what I want.

Me: That’s what I mean by changing the way you experience the thoughts. In all your efforts to get rid of the thoughts…using compulsions and mental acts…the reassurance-seeking…has the sideshow ever stopped?

Client: It might take a while to get the compulsion to work but, yes…I can stop the sideshow and get relief by using a compulsion.

Me: For how long do you feel relief? How long before you’ve got to do another compulsion or mental act? How long before you need more reassurance?

Client: It could be minutes.

Me: Seconds?160_F_102006633_DhS9SMhx1UmDC5y3ahKUlAlxHh709e3D

Client: Yes, sometimes.

Me: How’s this technique of yours working out? Is your brain resetting and learning anything new about fear when you do a compulsion. Haven’t you become a reassurance-junkie?

Client: Okay, I get it. It’s not working well. I waste a lot of time and it hurts my relationships. I avoid anything that triggers my thoughts.

Me: So let’s turn up the volume on the sideshow!

Client: You want me turn up the volume? I thought you’d show me how to turn down the volume!

Me: I am!

Client: By turning up the volume, I’m turning down the volume?160_F_11335624_tjRrHVDwRVuxDQjCHBdg6c13z1BUD2lx

Me: Maybe! (No reassurance from this therapist!) Wanna try it?

Client: Oh wow. I don’t know. How do I just let the thoughts be there?

Me: It all comes down to one thing. It’s not about the content of your thoughts. What you’re thinking really doesn’t matter. It’s about your opinion of your thoughts. Right now you’re opinion of the thoughts are that they’re unwanted and intrusive. Yes?

Client: Absolutely.

Me: What if you experience these thoughts in a different way? Stop thinking of them as interfering and disruptive? Just keep doing whatever you need or want to do even though there are horrific thoughts playing in your mind.

Client: I do that most of the time. I go on about my business but the thoughts are still there! I don’t want these thoughts!

Me: What if you weren’t resisting these thoughts? Would you be in such pain and agony?

Client: How can I not resist such frightening thoughts? These thoughts feel real to me. I’ve got to resist them. I’ve got to prove I’m not a danger to anyone.

Me: What if you welcome and invite the thoughts?

Client: If I invite the thoughts I’ll become my thought. I’ll do bad things.

Me: Well, let’s test that out. If you think the thought, “Tammy I’m going to kill you.” Let’s see if that happens.

Client: No, I don’t want to kill you. I don’t want to think that.

Me: So you if you think it, it will happen? Okay, don’t think about killing me. Don’t do it. Stop thinking about killing me.

Client: Oh man…I can’t help it. You put it in my mind. I’m thinking it now.160_F_77155475_bfmBcVI52k9CtRFmpr1IFveKMKfUVZTw

Me: Great let’s see if you kill me. Here, let’s give you a knife.

Client: OMG.

Me: So you’re holding a knife and thinking about killing me. Have you become your thoughts?

Client: No. I haven’t killed you.

Me: Thanks I appreciate that. Does your thought about killing me end up being dangerous or unpleasant?

Client: Unpleasant.

Me: Is that something to be afraid of—an unpleasant feeling?

Client: No. I don’t need to be afraid of something unpleasant. I can handle discomfort.

Me: Instead of saying these thoughts are unwanted and intrusive say, “These thoughts are fine to have. They’re unpleasant but I can tolerate them. In fact, I invite them to stay in my mind.”

Client: That’s easier said than done.

Me: C’mon you can’t convince me trying to obtain certainty about anything is easy. No matter which way you go…it’s hard. You’re willing to work hard to get certainty. How about working just as hard to live with uncertainty?

Client: No, you’re right. I spend hours trying to get certainty with a compulsion. What do you mean by inviting these ugly thoughts?

Me: Hint…stop calling them ugly. Call them fascinating. It’s a PARADOXICAL approach. It contradicts logic. It’s absurd but that’s how you defy OCD. It’s using REVERSE PSYCHOLOGY on OCD.

Client: Will this get rid of the thoughts?

Me: OMG! Stop trying to get rid of the thoughts!!! The thoughts need to be experienced. Just change the way you experience them.

I used to hate math class. I would excessively hum so that I’d get kicked out of the classroom. That wasn’t working out too well when it was time to take a test. My brain hadn’t learned anything by being in the hallway. So I decided I better stop humming and start listening. I stopped resisting having to be there. I changed the way I experienced math class. I willingly attended the class. My brain got updated and my grades improved.

Awesome Life Changing Tip: Don’t resist your thoughts. Don’t try to think about them less. Think about them more. “I am open and willing to experience these thoughts and feelings.”

Warning: If you have “Hit and Run” OCD the following two paragraphs may increase your anxiety. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)

A person with “Hit and Run” OCD will do everything they can to get certainty that they haven’t hit anybody. They try not to go anywhere that involves driving. If they do drive, they’ll spend hours circling back looking for bodies, watching the news, checking their car or just waiting until no one is around before they move their car. 

Here’s a script using a paradoxical approach: Even though there are pedestrians walking around I’m just going to drive away and not look back. I’m not going to go back and check to see if I hit someone. I’m not going to check the news. I might have hit 160_F_56537437_h6tWFtsEYVOzg8QxmU4h05fORKqEP6txsomeone. There’s probably body parts dangling form the grill of my bumper. But I’m not going to check. There might be a trail of blood leading from the scene of the accident right to my house. The police are going to follow the blood and put me in jail. My family will disown me. I’ll be shunned forever. I don’t know if I ran anybody over. But, I’m not going to go back and check. I want to live my life. I’ve got to move on.”

True, using “Reverse Psychology” or a “Paradoxical Approach” is counterintuitive. It doesn’t feel right. Your emotions will tell you this is wrong and to stop it. But, as wrong as it feels, it’s the next right thing to do. 

What You Will Discover

It’s hard to be anxious when you want to be anxious. When you soften into the anxiety it softens too. The byproduct of learning to tolerate anxiety is less anxiety. It’s not the goal, it’s the bonus. Keep your focus on the tedious process, not the result.

Where You Might Get Stuck

It’s unpleasant to accept weird, scary thoughts. You won’t like it. But, how’s resisting thoughts working out? Either way you’ll be anxious. But, only one way will set you free.

You’ll get frustrated because even when you start to accept the thoughts, they’ll keep coming. It takes time for your brain to make the adjustment. But, because you have stepped out side of your comfort zone, you’ll want to quit letting the thoughts be there. You’ll have to fight a strong urge to give in to compulsions for the quick fix. Don’t quit the day before you were going to feel better!

It doesn’t feel right to think about the thoughts more. Your anxiety tells you to think about them less. It’s counterintuitive to bring on unpleasant thoughts. It’s not logical. But neither is OCD. You’ve got to fight irrational with irrational. Illogical with illogical. I know, I know, it’s backwards!

How to Make it Real and Take Action

  1. Click above on the words PARADOXICAL and REVERSE PSYCHOLOGY to follow the links. Try to gain a clear understanding of what it means to be paradoxical. (If anyone wants to leave an anonymous comment about an example please do!)
  2. Write a script that is applicable to your own fear. Similar to the one above regarding “Hit and Run” OCD. One of the most awesome books with pre-written scripts is: Freedom From Obsessive Compulsive Disorder by Johnathan Grayson.
  3. Practice saying,“Good there’s my thought. How fascinating. I can’t wait for the next one.” 
  4. Focus on the process of being paradoxical, not the result of being paradoxical.
  5. Keep on keepin’ on no matter how counterintuitive (wrong) it feels.
  6. Use your dry sense of humor when you’re being paradoxical.
  7. Be kind to yourself. Courage lives within your kindness.

You can change the way you experience your thoughts! You can’t control your thoughts but you can control how you react to them!