Over the years I’ve seen many brave people confront OCD with ERP. It’s one of the scariest things a person can do. In their entire life, there will probably be nothing harder or scarier than the day they start to climb their hierarchy of fear—their Worry Hill.
Going up the Worry Hill takes determination. You don’t feel like doing it but you do it anyway. It takes courage because it’s doing everything OCD has told you not to do. How can something that feels so wrong be so right?
Go up the Worry Hill because you’ve got a fight in you. You don’t have a lot of energy, but you’ve got just enough. Get your life back. You’re tired of being a slave to OCD and watching your life pass by.
But, as you’re climbing the Worry Hill, it’s not getting easier. The chatter in your mind is getting louder and more frequent. What’s going on?
Here are 5 mistakes commonly made when climbing up the Worry Hill:
Mistake #1 Trying to Get Rid of Anxiety
WANT the anxiety. You want it to be intense and you want it to last. It’s a mistake to do ERP in hopes of getting rid of anxiety. When doing ERP the goal is to purposefully make yourself anxious. As you climb the hierarchy the anxiety should intensify. This way you’ll begin to tolerate anxiety. You’ll become more and more confident in your ability to handle anxiety. As you climb the hierarchy don’t do anything to neutralize the anxiety. Sit with the anxiety. Want it. Say, “Good there’s my anxiety.”
Mistake #2 Looking Ahead
When you climb the Worry Hill it’s going to feel “just wrong” and you might be scared out of your mind. Take it one step at a time. Don’t look up the hill. Focus on the step you’re taking right here, right now. It’s a mistake to look ahead. Keep your nose to the grindstone.
Mistake #3 No Momentum
When climbing the Worry Hill, don’t stop ’til you get to the top. The mistake people make is to lose momentum. Presidential candidates work fiercely to build momentum. They say they won’t stop ’til they reach the top. They hold rallies, town hall meetings, and debates.They’re on TV 24 hours a day. This is an example of building momentum. If a presidential candidate disappears for even a day, they lose momentum. Stay in the game every single day. In fact, do at least 5 exposures every single day of your life.
Mistake #4 Trying to Get Rid of a Thought
WANT the thought. It’s a mistake to do ERP in hopes of getting rid of unwanted intrusive thoughts. ERP teaches you to allow the thoughts or obsession to be there. Do nothing to get rid of them. In fact, use them in ERP so that you learn to live with them. As you climb the hierarchy invite the thoughts. Want the thoughts. Say, “Good there’s my scary thought, my obsession. Welcome.”
Mistake #5 Climbing the Wrong Worry Hill
Make sure your hierarchy involves the actual core fear. It’s a mistake to not walk your fear through to the worst possible scenario.
Confront OCD with ERP
As you build the hierarchy keep asking: “If this happens, then what happens next? And then what? And then what?” Keep asking until you reach your worst fear. Your worst fear has to be what you’re climbing up towards.
What mistake do you think you’ve made or are making? Is it one of these five or something else? Will you choose to tackle this mistake?
If you’re just getting started with Exposure & Response Prevention you want to ease your way into it. Check out this book to ease your way into facing your fears.