Category Archives: OCD Strategies

If You Don’t Celebrate Your Victories Over OCD: The Cold, Hard/Ugly Truth

I asked my client who recently attended a wedding,“Why was everyone celebrating? What’s the accomplishment?”

Two People Found Each Other

She paused for a long time. “Hmmm, I guess it’s a celebration of two people finding each other?” I asked, “And you celebrated that?” My client smiled and said, “I know what you’re doing.” She was on to me.

This client, once unable to take three steps without a lengthy ritual, danced the entire night at a wedding reception—completely ritual free! There’ve been so many victories over the last few months. And not once has she ever celebrated. Not one tiny little whoot whoot! 

I asked my client, “What? What do you think I’m doing?”

She said, “You’re wondering if I celebrated my own accomplishment. You’re wondering if I did a little happy dance for myself.”

I moved to the edge of my seat in anticipation, “Yes! Yes! I’m wondering if at any point you twirled around on that dance floor and shouted with glee, “I’m free! I’m free!” She replied, “Oh God no. I’m not ever going to do that!”

This woman is doing the hardest thing she’ll ever do in her life. She’s defying OCD. She’s been disobedient and doing the opposite of what OCD tells her to do for months now.

OCD says leave. She stays. OCD says don’t think about this. She thinks about it more. OCD warns, “Do this (ritual) or something bad is going to happen.” She says, “Nah, that’s ok. Whatever happens, happens.”

Time and time again, my client proves to be more powerful than OCD. Everyday she’s winning more and more battles! If OCD kicks it up a notch, she powers right through it. She says, “Oh yeah OCD??? Watch this OCD! You’re not the boss of me anymore!”

And yet she won’t celebrate. 😦

Reasons Why People With OCD Won’t Celebrate Their Victories 

No Plan or Intention
I forgot all about celebrating. I planned the exposure but didn’t think about what I could do to celebrate. It just slipped my mind.

The Hustle
Isn’t it about the climb more than the top of the mountain? No pain—No gain. If I’m not suffering something’s not right. I thought I was supposed to be suffering all the time?

It’s Too Soon
I’ll celebrate later. I’m not where I want to be. I haven’t done enough. I’ve got a long way to go before I should start celebrating.

Minimizing the Victory
There’s people with far worse problems than me. I’m so ashamed of being self-absorbed by my worries. There’s people starving in this world.

I Don’t Know How to Celebrate
I can’t think of anything to reward myself with. There isn’t anything I want or need. I don’t know how to acknowledge what I’ve done. I feel silly.

Self-Deprecating
Why would I celebrate doing something that everybody else can easily do? I’m not going to celebrate over some piddly little thing I should have been able to do a long time ago.

Too Focused On What’s Wrong or Not Working
Sure I pulled that off. So what! What good did it do? Even though I did the exposure I’m still anxious and the thought is still there.

There’s No Point
Why should I celebrate? Sure, today was a victory but tomorrow that’s another story. Tomorrow everything could go back to the way OCD wants it. Who’s to say all my success today will be repeated tomorrow?

Don’t Want to Jinx It
160_F_53866595_awc4UOHXfDnVkShtYcVwUcGMbKnfXY3xI don’t want to let my guard down by celebrating. As soon as I acknowledge that I’m doing pretty good, OCD will throw a bomb at me. I don’t think it’s smart to say anything positive right now. I’ll jinx myself.

What’s Your Reason? Have I missed yours? When you are victorious over OCD, what keeps you from celebrating? Is it mentioned above or do you have one to add? Please let us know! You can add it anonymously in the comment section.

The cold, hard/ugly truth is that without acknowledging your victories it can take twice as long to be healthy and free!

If your child or best friend gave you any of the above reasons for not celebrating a victory would you say, “Yeah, you’re right. You can’t celebrate.”

Why Celebrate?
People with OCD often ask, “How can I stop all this chatter in my head?” “I’m feeling like this will never get better.” If you really want to influence your thoughts and feelings, then celebrate your victories!

Celebrate to generate motivation. Feel better. Release the happy juice: dopamine. Celebrating is the foundation to success!

No matter how tiny or small you think your victory is, CELEBRATE! Cultivate a positive mindset with a happy dance! This is scientifically proven so why not try it out!160_F_71169979_lUqsaleU33MIAROqijSVU9iIMj7VG6xr

When to Celebrate

  • OCD told you to leave and you stayed
  • OCD told you to stay and you left
  • OCD told you to stop think a thought less and you thought it more
  • OCD told you to sanitize and you got dirty
  • OCD told you to go back and check and you shrugged ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ and kept going
  • OCD told you something bad could happen and you said, “Whatever happens, happens. I’ll deal with it if and when it happens.”
  • OCD questioned your morals or intentions and you said, “We’ll just never know. Oh well.”
  • OCD questioned your health and you said, “I don’t want to live in a small little bubble.”
  • OCD suggested other people are more adequate than you and you said, “I’d rather just go ahead and be inadequate than agonize over whether or not I’m adequate.”
  • OCD tells you to keep doing it (ritual) until you feel just right and you say, “I’d rather feel just wrong.”
  • OCD tells you that you’re going to end up all alone you say, “Then I can leave the dishes in the sink as long as I want!”

160_F_97775477_0t8rTFkU6nsuY7ZZ5NK7SaIvKlSmSHzIWhenever you do the opposite of what OCD tells you to do, it’s time to CELEBRATE!

How to Celebrate
Here’s the thing about celebrating. It doesn’t matter how you celebrate. What matters is that you consistently do something that tells your brain you are pleased or even happy about something you did. It doesn’t have to be a glamorous affair. But it can be! 😜

Let us know in the comment section how you like to celebrate!

Think of all the rituals and compulsions you’re willing to use to cultivate a mindset of fear and avoidance. You’ve been etching this groove in your brain long enough! It’s time to flip it and cultivate a positive mindset! Put some thought and muscle into celebrating!!!

And for those of you who don’t celebrate because you don’t feel like it—do it anyway. It can help. Check out this link: Go Here From the book, Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

If you aren’t celebrating, you can’t blame it on OCD. You’re getting in your own way of freeing your mind. Freeing your life.

What are you going to celebrate today and how are you going to do it?

 

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Exposure & Response Prevention: 5 (More) Mistakes Commonly Made

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.

160_F_73935520_ciJAUqe4E8Hp9XsdGTNwIImt4NNO1ZLT

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. 160_F_64095349_CJnntlYqxXtld1uBZD7bCxWc9hSMabjcDon’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.