Category Archives: Mindfulness

Forget Compulsions, Try This Instead!

Resisting compulsive behavior is one of the hardest parts of your recovery.

Finding the willpower to say, “No!” to OCD

Finding the willpower to resist compulsions requires energy you don’t think you have. But, it’s no mystery where that energy can be found. 

You’ll find the willpower to resist compulsions eagerly awaiting you in two places: Your mindset and your body.

What Kind of Mindset Do You Have 

Here are a few questions to test your mindset. Do you want to:

  • be all better or getting better?
  • stay in the comfort zone or be challenged?
  • succeed or grow?
  • be all-knowing or always learning?
  • avoid anxiety or seek it out?
  • have certainty or live with uncertainty?
Resisting compulsions
A love for learning is better than a fear of failing

Success Mindset

If you chose answers mainly in the blue then you have a Success Mindset.

  • Your agenda or plan for daily life is fixed and rigid.
  • You care deeply about failure, inadequacies, and outcomes.
  • The capability of taking an action can’t occur until an emotion is felt first. (e.g. “I can’t do anything until I feel ready and right about it.”)
  • What people think of you matters very much.
  • You tend to be self-loathing and easily frustrated with what appears to be a lack of progress.
  • Everything is seen in all or nothing terms. 
  • The path you’re on always needs to be definite, clear and unmistakable.
  • Effortless is preferred over effortfulA student with school anxiety who makes it to school five out of five days is pleased with meeting the goal of attendance. (Focuses on outcome) Had she attended four out of five days she’d have felt like a failure because everything is either all or nothing. (Values perfection.) 

Finding the Willpower to Resist Compulsive Behavior

Growth Mindset

If you chose answers mainly in the green then you have a growth mindset.

  • You’re curious and flexible about daily life.
  • If something doesn’t go as planned you easily adjust.
  • Your focus is on finding hard challenges and opportunities for personal development.
  • The process of getting from A to B is more important to you than the outcome.
  • Celebrating your victories is not something you do enough.
  • Practicing gratitude and counting your blessings is something you do often.
  • You prefer daily tasks and life experiences to be effortful–full of variety and challenges. A person who deletes 24,000 emails out of 26,000 (egads something I need to do!!!) focuses on the effort it took to sit there and do that! She doesn’t become discouraged that the inbox is still full.

A student with school anxiety who makes it to school each day of the week is pleased with how incredibly hard she worked to get there each day. (Focuses on effort) Had she attended four out of five days she would be proud of her effort and look forward to working harder next week. A setback is a setup for a breakthrough. (Values experience.)

It’s harder to find the willpower to resist compulsive behavior if you have a success mindset.

Here’s how to get out of the success (or fixed) mindset and shift into a growth mindset:

  1. Focus on your incredibly hard work and effort. Remember, “If you had fun you won?” That’s an example of focusing on effort, not outcome.  To use a growth mindset to resist compulsions here’s another cheer: “If you had anxiety and abstained you won.” (i.e., abstained from compulsive behavior.)
  2. Drills develop skills.  Appreciate the value of experiencing anxiety. It gives you an opportunity to practice your skills. You get good at what you practice. If you’re avoiding anxiety, you won’t get good at experiencing it. Hunt down anxiety. Go find it and experience it.
  3. Be curious about your anxiety. “Hmmm, it’s so fascinating how my body can put butterflies in my stomach. I wonder how my body does that.” Focus on the experience of anxiety, not the story about why the butterflies are there. How not why.
  4. Ask, “what does anxiety make possible?” One young man told me that his anxiety makes him a better football player. “How’s that?” I asked. He explained, “I’ve got some big guys I have to block. They’re a lot bigger than me. My anxiety gives me the energy to do it.”
  5. Do your values need a realignment? What is it that you value? A sense of security or experiencing something new? What do you care deeply about? Being with loved ones or avoiding anxiety? Values drive behavior. Make sure your priorities represent your values.
  6. Don’t get caught up in OCD’s story about something bad happening. To focus on the story is nothing but a trick! This is about your anxiety. Stay focused on the true issue. You don’t need compulsions. You need experience.

Resisting Compulsive Behavior and Mental Acts

The Physicality of Anxiety

You can use your body to resist compulsions.

Super Pose
You aren’t the boss of me!

Stand up like a superhero. Look OCD in the eyes with your hands on your hips. Chin up. Shoulders back. 

Don’t contain all the energy from anxiety inside one area of the body. If you clutch your chest, cover your head with your hands or make fists where can the anxiety go? 

Experience the Anxiety

Notice where you experience anxiety and stay with the sensation. Don’t go into the sensation. Notice it like a bystander. Think of it like a neighbor who is visiting. “Oh, passing through again?”

Oh no…did you just ask, “But, what if I don’t want the neighbor to visit?” This question reflects your mindset. It’s not a growth mindset. You’re not valuing learning and developing. You need the “neighbor” to visit so that you can gain experience. Keep working on your mindset until you can welcome the “neighbor.”

Stay with the experience of anxiety and away from the story about something bad happening.

The Physicality of Anxiety: Discover where the sensation of anxiety is located in your body. 
  • Ask your body, “What part of you wants my attention right now?
  • Say hello to the bodily sensation of anxiety. “Ah ha, there you are.”
  • Where in your body do you feel the anxiety? Perhaps it’s unclear. Maybe it’s puzzling, numb or fuzzy. Stay focused on finding the sensation. Keep hunting down the anxiety in your body. 
  • Your OCD story is irrelevant. We’re not doing exposure exercises right now. This exercise is not about your story. It’s about anxiety. 

    Resist Compulsive Behavior by Finding the Anxiety In Your Body

  • Describe the sensation of anxiety in great detail as if trying to get someone else to understand what it feels like.
  • Just notice it. “I feel it here.” Describe it in great detail. Are any of these descriptive words a good fit: 

-Is there any tightness or pressure? Where do you feel it?

-Does your skin have any pain, tingling, prickling, twitching, itching? Where on your body is this occurring? 

-What is the temperature of the sensation?

-Is there any motion and if so what is the speed at which it is traveling? 

-Can you taste or smell anything?

-Does this sensation have any particular size, shape, weight, texture, or color? 

-Can you hear any sounds in your ears like buzzing or ringing? 

  • Once you’ve described the sensation, get curious about how your body creates these sensations. Don’t ask why. Ask how. Curiosity is the opposite of anxiety. 
  • When your mind tries to wander to an OCD story, keep bringing your focus back to the physicality of your anxiety. Focus. Notice. Focus. Notice. Experience it fully by describing it and getting fascinated.
Let this sink in: Just because you’re anxious when you resist a compulsion doesn’t mean something is wrong.

Experiencing anxiety is (unfortunately) not what you’ll usually be told to do. But truly, the only way out is in. You can’t master anxiety by avoiding it! 

Resist Compulsions
Get into position!
Today’s Best Advice on Resisting Compulsive Behavior:

You can’t be limp when it’s time to resist a compulsion. Rise up like you mean it! Be firm. Stay with the anxiety not the story. Experience the physicality of anxiety.

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

 

“If resisting compulsions is the right thing to do then why does it feel so horrible to resist them?”

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

Is Anger Making Your OCD Worse or Better?

What Role Does Anger Play in the Symptoms of OCD?

160_f_121600541_s7oznmb25f5zvuhyjaojxxwtqhzxsb7b

As a therapist who specializes in the treatment of OCD, I notice a trend. Clients struggle with feelings of anger. The anger is directed outward and/or inward. 

If the anger is directed outwards there could be verbal outbursts and even aggression towards property or people. There are heated arguments at home, holes punched in walls and sometimes the police are called.

Anger directed inwards is usually manifested by self-loathing and depression. People hit themselves and/or say horrible things about themselves. They often say, “I don’t deserve this kindness, or to feel good or be loved.”

For some the anger only surfaces when compulsions are being resisted. If they increase their compulsions, their anger significantly decreases. If compulsions are prevented, anger rises.

Anger As a Defense Mechanism

Initially, having OCD can result in the development of maladaptive defense mechanisms. A common one is to detach emotionally. This is a common reaction to repeated trauma, which is exactly what an untreated OCD can be. Trauma and torture.

Having OCD can be very traumatic. The anxiety can be overwhelming. To be protected from the unbearable fear and pounding negativity the brain fragments, compartmentalizes and encodes in a way that causes emotional numbness.

Feelings are essentially sealed off. However, one emotion presides. ANGER. That’s because anger creates heat where there is no life. When a client is detached from their feelings, they don’t even experience anxiety during exposure exercises. They get mad, but not anxious. I say, “Thank goodness you’re alive and kicking!”

Being detached from all emotion except anger can be very disconcerting to someone with OCD who has intrusive thoughts of harm. “Why am I having these horrible thoughts without anxiety. I’m angry. What does this mean? I’m having violent thoughts but I have no remorse. What’s wrong with me. Am I going to act on these thoughts?”

Compulsions Are Used to Alleviate Anxiety and/or Anger. 

When a ritual is interrupted a person with OCD will react with either anxiety or anger. If they’re anxious, they’ll likely be drawn to some form of reassurance. If they’re angry over the ritual being interrupted, they might yell. A door might be slammed. “Thanks a lot. Now I have to start this all over again.”

A person with OCD manages their anxiety with compulsions. There might be a story attached to the compulsion. “I shower like this to protect my child from getting sick.” But, that’s just the story behind the compulsion. The real reason for the compulsion is to alleviate anxiety.

Likewise, a person with OCD manages their anger with compulsions. Anger doesn’t seem like an acceptable, or safe emotion to have. There might be a story attached to the compulsion. “I stay away from knives to protect my family.” But, that’s just the story behind the compulsion. The real reason for the compulsion is to alleviate anger.  

Why Does it Matter?

What difference does it make if compulsions are done to alleviate anxiety or anger? In either case compulsions have to be resisted in order to be set free. So what does it matter if there’s anxiety or anger underneath the compulsion.

Everybody aways talks about the anxiety attached to OCD. “I do this ritual because I’m afraid something bad will happen.” “I do this because I won’t sleep if I don’t do it.” This is just talking in code. What’s really being said is, “I do what I do to alleviate anxiety.” 

In this case, I would help the person with OCD learn to tolerate anxiety. Much of my blog is about this. Can the same be said for anger? Should anger be tolerated?

Experiencing anxiety is not a health hazard. But, resisting anxiety is. Resisting anxiety is detrimental to one’s heart, immune and digestive system, and hormone production. Resisting only causes stress levels to rise. The same can be said about anger. 

What to Do About Anger?

 

Practice Mindfulness Exercises

Notice anger the same way anxiety is noticed. 

  • Notice the angry thoughts without judging.
  • What is the speed of your thoughts?
  • What is the anger saying?
  • What is the anger seeing?
  • How does the anger feel?
  • Do I feel hot or cold?
  • What body sensations am I feeling?
  • What is the speed of my heart?
  • Am I experiencing any muscle tightness? 
  • What is my breath like?
  • What position are my eyes in?
  • What is my facial expression?

Talk to anger with loving attention.160_f_118764193_rvbtrzf2f0wveh4bctpacdsnzevmd9hv

  • “Wow, that feels like anger. OK, I can handle it. This is a good opportunity to practice noticing without judging or acting.”
  • Ask, “Do I have a desire to remain angry?”
  • “What are my options?”
  • “Can I assert myself with kindness?”
  • “If I engage in a compulsion to alleviate this anger, will it be conducive to my well-being?”
  • “I wish to take responsibility for my actions rather than blame others.”
  • “I accept that life is unfair and bad things happen. It’s ok. I can handle it.”
  • “I have a right to be angry. It’s okay. I can work through it in a healthy way.” 

Feeling and Acting Are Not the Same

160_f_117123901_l3wbln8gaasor1gcaaclumz22wiczfhaThere is a difference between accepting anxiety and acting anxious. Feeling anxious must be accepted.

Acting anxious is engaging in compulsive behavior and/or mental rituals. Acting anxious looks like avoidance and reassurance-seeking. Acting anxious, like rocking back-n-forth, or rubbing hands feeds anxiety. It’s okay to feel anxious, but it’s of no benefit to act anxious.

There is a difference between accepting anger and acting angry. Having OCD is not an excuse for lashing out or mistreating self or others. You can say what you mean, but you don’t have to say it mean.

Fueling anger triggers the amygdala and kicks you into “danger” mode. Fueling anger can shut down logic and cloud judgment which leads to irrational and unreasonable thinking, which leads to regret and hurtful decisions. Anger is an acceptable emotion but fueling it is of no benefit to a brain that is already sounding false alarms.

Be aware when you’re experiencing anger. If you don’t pay attention to it, you’re building a fire. The anger is uncomfortable and you’re naturally going to worry about it or want to get rid of it.

Instead of channeling your energy towards avoiding or getting rid of anger, acknowledge it. Notice it. Recognize your urge to do a compulsion is an effort to alleviate anger.

Turn towards the anger and practice mindfulness exercises.

How to Overcome Your #1 Challenge

It can be very overwhelming to confront your fears and defy OCD. This feeling of being overwhelmed is likely to lead to an “I can’t do it” mentality. Your #1 challenge is to overcome this belief.

I was so happy this morning to take a long walk and find a beach before the start of the OCD conference.  I think I’d walk on fire to get to a body of water.

Breathing in dirt and whatever else
Breathing in dirt and whatever else

That’s sort of what I had to do this morning to get to the beach. I walked by a lot of noisy dirty construction sites and very smelly dumpsters. It was a very unpleasant toxic walk.

I held my breath and walked fast. It was disgustingly unpleasant. What have I gotten myself into?

Finally I found the beach! There were dogs frolicking in the water. Everyone had a smile.

image

It was a little piece of heaven.

And then the wasps came. I’m terrified of insects, especially ones with stingers. I sound like I’m singing opera whenever a bee comes near me. When the wasp landed on my backpack, I started singing. The couple next to me laughed. I thought, “I gotta get outta here!”

I asked myself, “Tammy, you worked so hard to get here. Are you going to focus on what’s unpleasant (what feels even dangerous) or soak in the sun and gaze lovingly at these happy dogs smiling ear-to-ear?”

I thought about returning to the hotel just to feel safer (just a little safer since I have a bed bug phobia) or did I want to sit in the sand and breathe in all that is warm and good?

I focused on the moment. Right here, right now I’m pretty okay. I breathed deep and smiled at the scraggiest wet dog I’ve ever seen. 

So smelly
So smelly

 

Then it occurred to me what I was going to have to do to get back to the hotel. OMG. Could I do it? Could I walk through Toxic Lane again?

Suddenly I was bathed in kisses by a very wet white poodle. He slathered my face in sloppy kisses. In this moment, right here, right now, I’m pretty okay.

There’s a Bible verse, Matthew 7:7, “Seek and ye shall find.” What you look for you’ll find. So I focused my energy on what I want and why I want it. I didn’t focus on what I had to do to get it.

I want to enjoy this moment. I need this for my soul. If I focus on what I have to do to get it, I’m  bound to say, “I can’t do it.” I can’t stay at a hotel where there might be bed bugs. I can’t walk on a smelly gross toxic street. I can’t be on a beach where there are wasps.

“I can’t do it” isn’t true. It’s nothing more than a limiting belief. Can I say with 100% certainty that I can’t do it? If not, what then is possible?

As I sat on the beach a woman and her son spoke to me. She said, “This is so beautiful.” She told me she had MS (Multiple Sclerosis) and had just walked all the way from a far and

Son helping Mom
Son helping Mom

distant street. Her gait was significantly impaired. She leaned on her son as he led her to the shore.  Now that’s a woman without a limiting belief.

The belief you subscribe to is the life you live.

Focus your energy on what you want, and why you want it. Don’t focus on the path you’re going to have to take to get it. Put one foot in front of the other and get what you want.

Believe you can and this is the life you will live. If you say, “This is hard. Unpleasant. But I can do it. I know what I want. I know why I want it. I’m doing it.” This is the life you’ll live.

Your #1 challenge isn’t OCD. It’s thinking “I can’t” when feeling overwhelmed. That’s the challenge. Pushing through that limiting belief, feeling the fear and doing it anyway.

“I can. It’s hard. But, here I go.”

Defy OCD: Never Forget How Again

After you’ve been tricked by OCD have you ever said, “I forgot to use my tools. I forgot I even had tools!” Well, never forget again! Here’s an amazing “To DO List” to help you remember what to do! 

Diverse Hands Holding the Words To Do List

Be Super Better Every Day
When you wake up in the morning, do you have a plan? Make sure you set a daily goal to DEFY OCD. Everyday is April Fool’s Day with OCD. You must be prepared for the tricks! You can’t afford to drift. As soon as your feet hit the floor know what you’ll do today to defy OCD. 

Don’t Have to Feel Determined to Be Determined
It’s hard work to get better every day. How will you muster all your effort? Put one foot in front of the other whether you want to or not. Get mad at OCD if you have to. Enough is enough!!! Be strong, motivated and optimistic even when facing obstacles. Stick to the plan no matter what! The quality of your life is only as good as your stick-to-it-ive-ness.

 Keep Score
How are you doing with Exposures? Are you resisting compulsions? Keep track of your progress. Are you building momentum and taking on harder challenges each day? Who’s getting the most points: You or OCD? Tally up the score at the end of the day. You don’t have to win every battle but you do have to win the day.

Positivity & Gratitude
Are you doing a good job of managing your emotions from negative to positive? In the face of adversity, ask “What does this make possible?” This means focusing on blessings and appreciating others. Gratitude is the great sanitizer!

Fuel and Fitness
Are you making your brain a lean mean fighting machine through exercise, rest and healthy eating? Are you pushing yourself but making sure you properly recharge? Sleeping too much is too much recovery. Always seek a balance between chaos and rigidity when it comes to eating, sleeping and exercising.

Focus is a Choice
What are you paying attention to? Are you laser focused on what you’re fighting for or what you’re afraid of? Are you exercising your focus muscles with meditation or mindfulness exercises? Have you tried juggling, playing an instrument or coloring?

Are you driven by your values?
What are you fighting for? How do you remind yourself of why you’re working so hard to defy OCD. Have you made a collage or written a script that reflects your hopes and dreams? Are you going to let OCD rob you of “first times?” What’s more important—family or OCD? What is it that you value and let those values drive your behavior.

Yield
Do you accept the anxiety and agree the goal is to tolerate anxiety not get rid of it? When you’re triggered and getting anxious do you say, “Good. There’s my anxiety. I want this so I can practice tolerating it.” -OR- When you get triggered do you start analyzing the content until you’re blue in the face? Let go or be dragged.

Put OCD in the Corner!
Don’t have a back-n-forth conversation with OCD. Don’t answer one more question. As soon as you ask “WHY” or “WHAT” STOP!!! You’re about to go down the rabbit hole. “What if…” “What does this thought mean?” “What if I’m a bad person?” “Why does this feel like…” IT’S OCD! Don’t converse with it! The first question you answer will lead to months of never-ending questions. You’ll get stuck in the hamster wheel. Say, “It’s not up for discussion!” “End of discussion OCD!” “You’re in the corner. I see you but I’m not discussing this with you!”

Here and Now
There are three doors: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow. Which door does your thought belong behind? Rewinding and replaying memories belong in yesterday’s door. Whatever happened has already happened. There’s nothing to do about it today. If it’s a worry about what could happen, it hasn’t happened yet so it goes behind tomorrow’s door. When tomorrow comes, ask again what door does that worry go behind. The only thought that needs your attention is a thought that requires action in the next 30-60 minutes. Action meaning tasks to be completed. Tasks that are constructive and healthy.

Stop Wishing and Cancel the Pity Party
“It’s not fair. Why me?” “Nobody understands.” “I’m different.” “I wish I didn’t have OCD.” “I just wish I could be normal—like everybody else.” The more you wish the more you suffer.

Stay connected
The smaller your world becomes the bigger OCD gets. Don’t isolate. Don’t call in sick. Don’t cancel plans with friends. Keep on keeping on. Create plenty of space between you and OCD. Alone in your home is very close quarters for you and OCD. Take OCD out into the world with you—invite it to join you! But, be in the world.

Don’t give up your power ever again. Use this “To DO List” on a daily basis to be proactive and stay one step ahead of OCD.  It truly is possible to outwit, outsmart and outplay OCD. Stay alert and use this “To DO List!”

Do You Want to Defy OCD or Do You Need To?

Defying OCD takes focus. You have to be focused on your needs, skills and wants. One without the other is of no value. 160_F_69325513_kjUZc2oxEDA2PThOUDQUBt6kdGE8okMP

Need: What you have to do
Skill:   What you can do
Want: What you desire to do—based on purpose, and all your hopes and dreams

Need Without Want
I’m thinking of a young woman who has a contamination fear. There is very, very little that she can touch or use in her home. Her OCD has convinced her that if she touches anything inside the house she will contract an unpleasant, long-lasting virus. She is particularly aversive to anything her sister touches and maintains a 3 foot distance from her at all times.

Yet, she uses the same toilet her sister uses. She allows her skin to come in to contact with the same surface her sister’s skin touches. When asked how she manages this she answers, “Well, I don’t have a choice. I need to be able to use a toilet. But, I don’t have to use anything else in the house.”

This woman is focused only on meeting a basic need. It‘s a good example of how you can only get so far by doing what you need or have to do. If you’re not focused on your wants then your actions are based on needs not wants. Doing only what you need to do is not going to take you very far.

Skill Without Want
A lot of times when a person with OCD is stuck they’ll be reminded to use their skills. They’ve spent time in therapy and know how to defy OCD. But, they stopped paying attention, went on automatic pilot and got tricked by OCD. They’ve regressed and are neglecting important needs. A worried, but frustrated loved one says, “C’mon, Boss it Back! Use your skills!” And the person who’s stuck responds, “I don’t care about my skills. Nothing works. I don’t want to fight this fight anymore. OCD is too strong.”

Want Without Skill
It’s not enough to have the desire to Boss it Back. Just the other day a woman said to me, “I want to Boss it Back. I really want to. I don’t want to live like this. I want to be free. I want all my hopes and dreams to come true. I want it so bad. But, I just can’t do Exposure Therapy. I can’t do it. I want to do it. But, it’s too scary to even think about.”

Wanting, Needing and Having the Skills will take you all the way. All three work in harmony 160_F_61978411_WH1ljyTm5Au9EccRXTLYhIq7AU278gmUand need your attention. One without the other isn’t enough.

This is day 27 of a 30 day challenge. It’s important to focus on all three areas: Want, Need and Skill. Conduct an assessment of where you stand in all three areas. Does one area need more of your attention? Are you focusing on all three areas?

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.

What’s the Purpose of Exposure & Response Prevention?

The most widely used treatment for OCD is Exposure & Response Prevention (ERP.)

ERP is very effective when done right. The reason it works is because it updates the brain. In the past I’ve used other words to explain the effects of ERP. I’ve said “ERP is like getting a front-end alignment” and “ERP works because it re-calibrates the brain.”

160_F_31090355_QcsNrNUmrhz8B7qKlCg2X592aBA4Vwxl

I recently received this tweet: “Recalibration is such a robotic word. Why do you think we apply inhuman words to ourselves?” While I don’t think we are robots, we sure can act like robots.

Studies suggest that 90% of what we do, we’re not even clear why we’re doing it. We have free will but without mindfulness we do only what the brain does by default:

1. Watch for danger and
2. Conserve energy.

If you don’t take your brain off automatic pilot your brain focuses on one thing: survival. Every single unwanted intrusive thought is about somebody’s safety. Every single mental act or compulsion is about reducing threat.

It’s all about safety and survival. Every time you resist a ritual or compulsion, you’re recalibrating or making tiny adjustments in the brain. Every time you expose yourself to a “threat” you are updating your brain.

Every tiny adjustment leads to an eventual rewiring of the brain. It takes time. Be patient. Engage in ERP and your brain will heal.

But, I digress and haven’t answered the question. Isn’t it inhumane to use a robotic word like “recalibrate” to reference humans? This never occurred to me and it would never be my intention to be inhumane.

I don’t think of OCD as a psychological problem as much as a neurological problem. How one reacts to OCD is psychological but the problem itself is faulty wiring within the brain. So that’s why I use mechanical terms I guess.

But, now that I know it can be hurtful I will certainly be more mindful of my choice of words. It just felt good to have one word that captured the science behind neuroplasticity (the brain’s capacity to change.)

If you’re keeping a journal answer these three questions:

What could you discover by confronting OCD and conducting exposure exercises?
How might you get stuck if you don’t engage in ERP?
How can you make it real and take action today?