When your brain is worrying it can feel like you’re a hamster stuck in a ball.You just keep spinning in circles trying to talk your way out of the worry. To get unstuck, you’ve got to talk to your brain—with determination.
Determination is a mindset, not a feeling. In order to be determined, you have to sound determined.
To sound determined, try these different tones:
Use a matter-of-fact tone of voice. Even though you might feel emotional, don’t sound emotional. Fake that you’re not angry or afraid. Like this:
Another tone of voice that ekes determination is to sound like you are taunting your worrying brain. You might actually feel scared out of your mind, but you don’t sound it at all. You sound determined to tease it and willing to make matters worse. Like this:
Another way to sound determined to move on and let go of the worry is to sound bored. Like this:
Finally, another way to show your brain that you’re determined to move on is to sound like you don’t mind being anxious. Like this:
Here is the challenge: To sound determined even when you don’t feel determined.
How do you start your day out with OCD? Does it begin with snooze alarms and blankets over the head? Getting out of bed can be a major chore. It’s pretty hard to rise with enthusiasm and appreciation when you know you’re going to have an OCD side show playing in your head most of the day.
Some people will say, “I want to pop out of bed but my body just won’t move. It’s like I have a heavy weight on me.” It’s when your mind wakes up before your body. But, your mind is awake enough. There’s a tiny moment—an opportunity to start the day differently.
Do you get up and hit the snooze alarm from the other side of the room, before crawling back into bed? It’s when your body wakes up before your mind. But your body is awake enough. There’s a tiny moment—an opportunity to start the day differently.
Think about the guy who’s told he’ll never walk again. And yet he does. Every day he gets out of bed it’s because he’s found enough elbow room—barely enough but enough. It’s because he’s determined. It’s not because he has gusto. It’s because he has grit.
Remember yesterday’s challenge? Let determination drive behavior not feelings. Feelings come and go. Determination isn’t a feeling. It’s a mindset. It’s a choice.
Here’s day 3 of the 30 day challenge: The next time you feel paralyzed. Unable to take the next right step. Whether it’s getting out of bed or going for a walk. Ask yourself, “I don’t have much get-up-and-go, but do I have enough?” That’s all the elbow room you need—barely enough.
Let us know if barely enough, is enough in the comments. By the way, I’m keeping the posts up a little bit longer than I said I would because people are commenting on each post and I want everybody to have a chance to read all these amazing, encouraging, supportive comments!
Determination is a mindset, not a feeling. You can’t base your actions on what you “feel” like doing. Base your actions on what you’re determined to do no matter what you’re feeling. You don’t have to feel determined, to be determined.
The way to be determined is to show a strong work ethic. Many people go to work every day not “feeling like it.” Despite their lack of desire to go to work, they do it anyway. That ability to go to work in the absence of any desire is called a strong work ethic.
It’s valuing effort over feelings.
An OCD loop many people don’t recognize they’re having is the Feeling Loop. “Why aren’t I feeling more…” “What does this feeling mean?” “I don’t feel like doing that.” “I’m not feeling afraid of this thought anymore. Does that mean I’m evil?” All of this monitoring of feelings is nothing more than an OCD loop.
Remember, when you recognize an OCD loop your job is to shrug at it. Not feed it!
Your feelings aren’t part of the solution, they’re part of the problem. You don’t have to feel (problem) determined to be (solution) determined.
Today’s challenge is to let a mindset of determination drive your behavior no matter how you feel, what do you stand to lose/gain? If you value effort not feelings, what are the risks? What are the benefits?
This is Day 2 of the 30 day challenge! Do you accept?
If you have OCD, most likely you have experienced a storm or two (or ten). You know that OCD storms come in cycles and they change like the weather. Sometimes OCD is a small cloud, and sometimes it comes spinning into town like a tornado. I’ve had many OCD storms, several that knocked me off my feet, but I’ve learned that even when a storm knocks me down, I still have the choice to get back up, no matter how damaged or broken I feel.
When a storm blows through town you have two choices, lay there and wish it never happened to you, or get up dust off and deal with what is happening around you. Sometimes the clean up takes longer then we want it to. Often it feels like a waiting game, but if we don’t put in the time now, the next storm that comes through will hit even harder. We can’t stop a storm, just like we can’t stop OCD thoughts but we can choose how we react.
I am reminded of this choice everyday, what starts as a tiny cloud can easily take over the entire sky if I let it. There is so much in our lives both with OCD and without OCD that we can’t control, however I’ve learned we can control how we view our circumstances. How we view our circumstances gives us the power back. When we approach life with a grateful heart, we are more positive and kind to ourselves and others.
Maybe life with OCD doesn’t seem ideal. Maybe you’re stuck feeling like it’s not fair that you’re suffering from OCD. Maybe it seems like no one understands the hell you are in. OCD can make you feel like a victim of your own brain, but it doesn’t have to. As strange as it sounds I have found several reasons to be grateful for my OCD.
-Having OCD has given me the opportunity to meet some of the strongest and most compassionate people on earth
-Having OCD has made me a more understanding, less judgmental person
-Having OCD has made me more grateful for the little moments
Can you think of anything you have gained from having OCD?
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!
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!
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 achievement 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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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!
Want bigger, better biceps? Then just do barbell workouts. You don’t build muscle by talking about it. You go to the gym. That’s exactly what you do to build willpower! You build willpower by taking your brain to the (neuro) gym. Willpower happens in your brain. Just behind your eyebrows and to the left and right—that’s where willpower lives or dies.
There are 3 kinds of WILLPOWER:
I WANT power lives behind the gap between the eye brows. It’s where the brain keeps track of your goals. It’s watching and monitoring.
I WON’T power lives behind the right eye and controls your attention.
I WILL power lives behind the left eye. It gives you the willingness to face anything.
Is it fair to say you can’t build biceps unless you know where they’re located? If you know where your biceps are, you can target them with specific exercises. That’s why it’s important to know where willpower is located in your brain. By knowing where willpower lives you can work on strengthening these parts of the brain, which not only builds willpower, but also helps deactivate the amygdala.
You might recall the amygdala is the troublemaker when it comes to defying OCD. It’s a broken alarm system that sends false alarms. The amygdala is responsible for quick emotions and quick decisions. It’s all about getting immediate gratification. Have you ever been tricked into a compulsion, “Just this one last time…” The amygdala is a trickster. It gets you to make decisions that seem good at the time, but actually lead you away from who you truly want to be. By targeting and strengthening willpower muscles in your brain the amygdala gets deactivated.
Willpower is something you can train for—just like any other muscle of the body. Get started on 5 quick and easy Willpower Workouts:
The first Willpower Workout is to use the pointer and middle finger of your dominant hand and tap (3 or 4 times) the inside of each eyebrow–one eyebrow at a time. State what you want: “This freedom. Even though it’s so hard to just let go, I love and forgive myself.” Then with your right hand repeatedly tap where the right eyebrow ends. State what you won’t do: “This compulsion. Even though it’s so hard to let go I love and forgive myself.” Finally with your left hand tap where the left eyebrow ends. State what you will accept: “This anxiety. Even though it’s so hard to let go I love and accept myself.” This is an authoritative workout because you are acknowledging you know where willpower lives in your body. The second benefit of tapping is that is self-healing. You are practicing self-compassion which shuts down the amygdala. For a much broader example and explanation of tapping watch this 4 minute video.
The second Willpower Workout is a focus exercise. For 5 minutes pick something to focus on. You need your mind to wander for this to work. You have to find yourself getting sleepy or fidgety or otherwise you won’t be working out. Notice what your mind is doing and then bring it back to the task at hand. Perhaps you’re coloring, concentrating on your breath, or reading a text book. As long as your mind is likely to wander, it’s the right task!
Eat a Willpower food. This exercise is to keep your blood sugar level so you don’t have highs and lows. Read last week’s blog for more information about how to do this. If you don’t fuel your brain in a steady way, you won’t have willpower because you’ll be constantly crashing and burning. In a nutshell…eat nuts, seeds, blueberries and Greek yogurt, not carbs and sugar.
Exercise daily. Again read last week’s blog for more information about this. But, basically, this is what’s known as the Willpower miracle cure. Out of anything you can do to increase willpower-EXERCISE-is a must. People who change this one thing find instant willpower in other areas of their life. For proof, watch this 3.5 minute video.
This Willpower workout is called Pause and Calculate. Take 10 seconds and calculate the probability of the proposed reward coming to fruition. Recognize when the amygdala is promising you something and see it as a trickster. The amygdala will promise you relief and happiness, but think back to how many times this promise was broken. Pausing will lead you to making the right decision. Letting go of empty promises gives you the willpower to forge ahead and face a fear.
You are just minutes away from building WILLPOWER. More willpower leads to more motivation! Tap where willpower lives in your brain. Practice focusing. Eat nuts! Exercise. Pause. Try any of these workouts on a consistent basis and let us know how you’re doing with “Bossing it Back.” Post a comment! We’re building a bossy pants community!
Have you noticed there are people busier than you who manage to do it all and more? They eat healthy, exercise, meditate, spend quality time with friends and family, keep commitments and get tasks done ahead of time. They seem fulfilled and laugh a lot. What’s their secret? How are they so motivated? Studies show that “go-getters” have high levels of dopamine. Dopamine is a key neurotransmitter that ignites motivation and focus. When a person is motivated that means dopamine is at work. “Go-getters” aren’t successful because they’re good at managing time. They’re successful because they’re good at managing their energy.
A person who doesn’t have a good balance of dopamine has trouble focusing and might turn to stimulants like Adderall. This over time depletes dopamine efficiency. People with low dopamine are more prone to addiction or self-destructive behaviors. The brain knows you’re dopamine levels are inefficient and offers bad suggestions on how to get it. That’s why many people chase dopamine through stressful situations like video-gaming, procrastination, and worrying all the time. That kind of stress sends the blood flow to the back of the brain, which triggers the amygdala and ignites the fight, flight or freeze response. Not a good idea for someone with OCD!
Here are 5 natural ways to improve your motivation, specifically through managing dopamine levels. (Be sure to come back and explore the links I’ve included.)
FOODS TO EAT
People with depleted levels of dopamine often end up with a prescription for an antidepressant. Rarely are they prescribed a specialized diet. If you look at a curriculum for medical school you will see no emphasis on culinary medicine. Doctors tell me they had less than 25 hours of nutrition education in medical school. No big deal as long as the patient is referred to a nutritional expert.
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 convert to slow release dopamine. Slow release prevents the crash and burn you get from insulin spikes.
Not only what you put in your body but how you use your body determines dopamine levels. “Go-getters” regularly exercise. It’s one of the best ways to increase your brain’s production of dopamine. If you’re walking with very little arm swing, chances are you are very low in dopamine. How much exercise is needed to pump dopamine? Here are some options:
Just 7 minutes a day of intense exercise found on this app.
150 minutes weekly of moderate exercise (such as brisk walking with magnificent arm swings)
75 minutes weekly of vigorous exercise (Such as on this video).
There’s good news, to get started even non-strenuous exercise can help increase dopamine levels—like walking your pups. But, don’t stay at this level for long!
PUSH and RELAX
When “go-getters” are “on the go” they are in stress response mode. Even if they are gladly on the go, they are in stress response. We can only be in one of two response systems: stress response or relaxation response. If someone is go-getting, they aren’t relaxing. They are in stress response. Not all stress is bad but the body can only self-repair in relaxation mode. “Go-getters” have a good balance of the two systems. They know when to unplug and replenish. Any activity that brings the body into a relaxed state will replenish dopamine. Even anticipating doing something relaxing, like listening to music, will start to pump dopamine. Taking a bubble bath, coloring, knitting, meditating—all of these activities will produce dopamine. Prolonged TV watching is not recommended. That’s too much recovery!
You need a balance of energy expenditure and energy recovery. “Go-getters” push beyond normal limits followed by adequate recovery. Even napping is good as long as it’s no longer than 20-30 minutes.
KEEP YOUR WORD
“Go-getters” make commitments and keep them. They don’t waste energy thinking about following through. They just do it. There’s no other option. These attributes generate “I’m feeling good” dopamine which spreads motivation like wildfire. You will not benefit from dopamine if you don’t do what you said you’re going to do. You’ll feel like a loser, beat yourself up and whatever dopamine you have goes straight to the amygdala. If you commit to something stick to it. And the solution can’t be, “Then I just won’t commit to anything.” I’m not feeling the dopamine in that solution, are you?
Develop specific routines and your energy will be better managed. Any part of your life where you find success, you’ll find a routine. Habits are effortless. When you are indecisive about doing something you are burning up your greatest resource: energy. Without habits you will be demotivated. For more on developing habits check out these blog posts.
Choose what you are going to do to start pumping more dopamine. Share your plan with the “Boss it Back” Community in the comment section.
When life gets busy or something unexpected comes up, do you lose momentum and get easily derailed from your healthy habits? Do all your plans for betterment go out the window? I’ve got a winning strategy to share with you about how to get your momentum back every time.
I’ve been on Jury Duty for 10 long grueling days and after 3 days of intense deliberation, we finally reached a verdict. All of the jurors, including myself, talked about how something like this really turns life upside down. But, really, truth be told I let my life be influenced by the circumstances. I had other choices. I chose not to play any racquetball or go to the gym. I chose to eat fattening “comfort” food. For two weeks I didn’t do anything that made me feel vital. (Some would argue I made a difference during jury deliberations, but that’s not the kind of impact that I find satisfying.) I started the New Year with lots of zest and tons of action. But, now…I’ve lost my momentum. The good news is that this has happened to me before. So I know exactly what to do. Plus, I’ve done a lot of research about getting motivated.
Have you ever been derailed and struggled with getting back on track? Do you recall thinking there was no point in getting back on track? Perhaps you thought you should wait until [such and such] event finished. Maybe you put yourself down, “You’re too inconsistent and incapable of everlasting change.” It’s important to be conscious of these kinds of thoughts and feelings. These kind of thoughts limit your beliefs. Look for them!
Once you recognize these limiting beliefs, realize they’re doing nothing but paralyzing you. You don’t need to believe them. These kinds of thoughts have been in your brain since you were 8 or 10 years old! They are just old messages from childhood. Consciously and deliberately take charge of these negative thoughts and feelings that hinder your motivation. It’s not a lack of intention that keeps us from getting back on track. We get stuck because our unconscious thoughts run us into a brick wall.
What is the action you intend or want to take? Is it a healthy habit, resisting a compulsion or facing a fear? Your brain is going to tell you not to bother for numerous reasons. Make sure you are consciously aware of those messages and use the winning strategy below.
Here’s the Winning Strategy to Get Back on Track:
Become fully conscious and aware of any limiting beliefs
Recognize all your choices besides just doing nothing
Release the limiting beliefs and replace them with new positive affirmations
Prime your brain for success by visualizing it happening
Take a tiny step within minutes or seconds of completing the chart below.
Goal: e.g., I’m going to resist the compulsion of comparing myself to others. Use this format to write down what it looks like to reset and recalibrate your brain:
I won’t be able to resist because the urge will be too powerful. I’m not that strong.
I can give in to the urge to compare and feel miserable with the results or I can resist the urge to compare and feel anxious.
Maybe I can do this. I know I can at least try. I’ve resisted other compulsions in the past with success. This seems hard but I can do hard.
I like the way it feels to see myself free of this compulsion. I can see how my world would become so much bigger. I see much happiness all around me.
I took my first action to get back on track and wrote this blog. I’m on a roll! It’s good to be back!
If you’re like most people with OCD you can get pretty exhausted and overwhelmed. OCD can send you in never-ending circles while you try to feel certain about something. And no matter how hard you work to get that sense of certainty, it’s impossible to feel it for any length of time. There are lots of steps you can take to beat OCD. But first, let’s make sure you know and practice the first step. This step can’t be skipped!
The first step in beating OCD is to shrug.
A shrug communicates “Whatever happens, happens.” How does it work out when you try to control the uncontrollable? Being attached to a certain outcome is exactly how OCD grabs hold of you. For example, perhaps OCD has you paranoid about what people think of you. If you are attached to everybody liking you then maybe you’ll try to control what people think about you by being the funniest person in the room. But, people will think what they want to think whether you are funny or not. And you know this! You can’t control what people think! So no matter how funny you are, there is no relief because you’ll never feel 100% certain you are liked.
Remember, OCD is the doubting disease! You can either keep trying to get certainty-to no avail. Or you can end this vicious cycle and shrug at the worry. Maybe you worry, “What if they think I am boring?” Instead of trying hard to make them think otherwise and only failing because you’re trying too hard, SHRUG and say, “Whatever! Maybe they think I’m boring, maybe they don’t. Until someone says I’m boring to my face…I don’t care.”
I know that shrugging won’t always work. OCD can feel very intense at times and the urge to do whatever it takes to get rid of the anxiety can feel very strong. But before wasting all that time and energy, just try to always make shrugging your first attempt to “boss it back.” If you put any time or energy into trying to control the worry, you’ll end up suffering. Even if you get some relief, it won’t last.
Shrugging will raise your personal threshold–you’re ability to handle anxiety. If you are willing to be anxious, OCD has no power over you.
The higher your threshold the less time you’ll spend trying to control the uncontrollable. I’m not saying it’s easy to just shrug at what can be intense anxiety. Just make it the first thing you try when “bossing it back!”