Category Archives: Self-Reflection

How to Embrace Doubt and Attain True Faith

Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, “move from here to there,” and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.  ~Matthew 17:20

Faith as small as a mustard seed…If you have the smallest or weakest of faith, you can perform even the most difficult undertaking. The greatest and most seemingly impossible difficulty can be overcome by the tiniest bit of faith.

When I ask my clients if I could wave a magic wand that could not take away OCD, but could give them something, what would they want…many many clients will say, “faith.” Faith in God. Faith in themselves.

  • I need to have faith that I turned the stove off. I don’t want to keep checking. I need to have more faith in myself.
  • I feel frightened by this thought. I need to have faith that I am not my thoughts.
  • When I pray I don’t feel anything.  How do I have a relationship with God if I can’t feel it? I shouldn’t have these doubts. My faith needs to be stronger.
  • Facebook is depressing. I read all these posts from people who have such a strong faith. They know without a doubt that their foundation is unshakable. I need that kind of faith.
  • I just have to have faith that nothing bad will happen.
  • I need to have faith that this is OCD.

It’s not really faith they’re looking for. Because faith happens mostly in a swamp of uncertainty. People with OCD are not looking for a swamp of sticky icky doubt, unless they’ve had really good therapy.

Most people resisting OCD desire a sense of peacefulness to flow through their veins. This is what they think of when they define “faith.” In their opinion, faith is free of doubt. It’s knowing something with such certainty that you can just feel it.

That’s Not Faith

Faith has nothing to do with peacefulness or a sense of certainty.

Faith is not a physical sensation. This is very hard for people with OCD to grasp. If you have OCD you believe a certain feeling can convert you from the doubt.

Faith doesn’t involve a physical sense. We can’t touch it. Can’t hear it. Can’t smell it. Can’t taste it. Can’t see it. Can’t feel it. 

You can’t be converted from doubt. And you don’t need to be in order to have true faith.

By embracing doubt you will attain true faith. And when you have truth faith, you end up surrendering.

Faith is a POWER that results in surrendering. 

  • What if I’m on the wrong path?
  • What if I do something that is unpleasing or harmful?
  • What if I didn’t protect or prevent harm when I could have?
  • What if I regress and can’t handle it?
  • What if this is permanent?
  • What if I’m never truly happy again?

Time Will Tell

Be willing to find out. This is surrendering. This is the power of true faith. 

You don’t need to be completely willing to find out. That would be experiencing a doubt-free journey. That’s not what we’re going for! We’re not looking for a sense of certainty. It can’t be found!

Your willingness to find out what happens only needs to be the size of a mustard seed. Because like any seed…it will grow. 

What is faith?

Faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.~ Hebrews 11:1

Hope for the best but embrace the doubt.

Live with it. Take action despite the doubt.

Hope for the best. Time will tell.

Be willing to find out what happens.

This is true faith. Surrender and you can move mountains.

Has Your Brain Been Hijacked by OCD?

OCD infiltrates. It worms its way into the brain and hijacks it. You begin to forget who you are.  This makes OCD sound like a monster.

It’s not.

There is not a shred of evidence that OCD is a monster out to get you. It feels that way, but there really isn’t some kind of wicked creature persecuting you. When you say, “I hate OCD.” You’re hating on yourself. 

There is no scientific study that shows there is an organism eating your brain.  

There is however, plenty of evidence that cells are still growing and neuroplasticity can happen… with skills & drills.

Translation: You can teach an OCD brain new tricks.

There is also a lot of evidence that self-loathing is detrimental and never brings about positive change. When you hate OCD you only hate yourself.

It feels like OCD is out to get you because the brain is misfiring messages and the central nervous system is responding with body parts. It’s a physiological experience complicated by thoughts.

The key to managing OCD is to stop thinking of OCD as a monster. Think of OCD with empathy. Compassion. And, you’re on your way to freedom.

A young boy was anxious just before his first concert. He was worried he might fall on the stage. What could be said to him that would help the most? What should he do? I took a poll to see what people thought.

Here are the results:

Poll Results

It is no coincidence that people suffering from OCD are self-loathing. Be as kind to yourself as you are to your best friend and you will notice a change. 

Commit to this and start today.

You are love. “Love can only love” a very wise 12 year old told me.

Talk to your OCD firmly, but with loving kindness. OCD is not a monster. Just a lonely, lost and confused child in the terrible two’s.

Who Else Feels Guilty About Their Thoughts?

Do You Feel Guilty for Having  Certain Thoughts?

Is this dog guilty for thinking what he’s thinking? Should he be experiencing shame?

We mostly agree that if I steal a banana I should probably pay a penalty of some sort, even if it’s just guilt and shame.

But what if I only think about stealing a banana? Should I pay a penalty for thinking? And what if I didn’t deliberately think about stealing banana. What if it just popped into my head out of nowhere?

I certainly won’t be arrested for thinking about stealing a banana, right? Okay, but what about an emotional penalty for thinking about it? I should pay penance with guilt and shame, right?

For how long should I pay this penance? A lifetime? For every next time I think about stealing a banana? Maybe I should give my banana away in an attempt to resolve my guilt feelings? Or should I just accept that since I thought about stealing a banana, I deserve to feel guilty

This kind of guilt doesn’t even come from mis-behaving. No action required. It was just a thought but shame on me. 

All I know is that I had a thought about doing something that would have violated my Code of Conduct. “Don’t do to others what you would not want them to do to you.” I wouldn’t want someone to steal my bananas. So it’s wrong for me to steal someone else’s.

But wait! I didn’t even steal anything! I didn’t actually do anything wrong! Why should I feel so guilty about something I didn’t even do???

Guilt Beyond Circumstance:                  A Different Kind of Guilt

Let’s talk about (Harm Avoidance) OCD; a kind of OCD that involves unwanted, intrusive thoughts about harming self or others.

Nobody’s lifted a finger. They’re just thoughts. They come with a punch in the stomach and a ton of guilt.

It’s guilt beyond circumstance. No event or circumstance has occurred other than in the mind.

You’re not walking on eggshells, you’re “thinking” on eggshells.

When you’re walking on eggshells you’re trying very hard to not upset someone who is hypersensitive and easily agitated.

When you’re “thinking” on eggshells you’re tiptoeing around your mind. Your mind is hyper-responsible. Hyper-aware. Hyper-sensitive. And easily agitated. You try to tiptoe around these thoughts. 

Thought Action Fusion: When Thinking Is Considered to be the Same as Doing.

A person with OCD gets confused. They falsely believe a thought is just as bad as an action. This is a cognitive error called, Thought Fusion Action. This cognitive error interrupts lives. 

If thoughts are felt to be equivalent to action then you can understand why people with (Harm Avoidance) OCD experience so much guilt. They haven’t done anything, but in their minds thinking about it is just as bad as doing it.

When it comes to a thought vs. an action, a person with OCD says there is no line in the sand. Thought = action = responsibility = guilt. The guilt is the emotional penalty for the wrongdoing of the mind.

People with OCD have an inflated sense of responsibility. Thought Action Fusion is a type of hyper-responsibility, of feeling responsible when you’re not.

The Emotional Penalty of Being Hyper-Responsible is Guilt and Shame

Another example of hyper-responsibility is to believe that you ought to be able to stop what you’re thinking.

The guilt is the emotional penalty for not controlling the mind. 

In a room full of 100 people, not many of them are worrying about why they can’t stop having certain thoughts. They don’t have OCD.

Geez, I don’t even know if it’s possible to “be” and not think? Descartes wrote, “I think therefore I am.” In other words, “I know I exist when I am thinking.” 

To believe you ought to be able to control what you think about is a false belief. It’s a cognitive error that’s interrupting your life. If you had the power of mind control you’d be rich and famous. Because, you’d be the only one out of 7 billion people who have such control.

We all get weird taboo thoughts. This is a proven fact. You don’t have to have OCD to get weird thoughts. But, if you have OCD then you’re at risk for spending way too much time analyzing these thoughts.

I thought about not reporting that I underpaid for a banana. I didn’t violate my Code of Conduct. Whatever unwanted, intrusive thought you’re having is absolutely no different than my thought.

Nothing has meaning except the meaning you attach to it.

No thought has meaning except the meaning you attach to it.

Tips:

  1. Stand up for yourself. You can’t just let OCD push you around with cognitive errors.  Recognize them and bulldoze through them. 
  2. You don’t have to pay penance for thoughts unless you want to.
  3. Be as kind to yourself as you would to your best friend. (Code of Conduct: Don’t do to yourself what you wouldn’t do to others.)
  4. Trying to control your mind is impossible. If 7 billion other people can’t help what they’re thinking how can you?
  5. Notice your thoughts and do nothing to get rid of them. They mean nothing unless you attach meaning to them.

This publication is part of a series of posts about OCD and guilt. The next one will have to do with how guilt can cause compulsive behavior.

Have You Updated Your Brain Lately?

160_F_70573482_bUsLZkY9Erj5IoDagCA7kw9cAX0s74cYExposure & Response Prevention (ERP) is a tried and true therapy. There’s lots of proof it works. You’ve probably heard it works because it desensitizes you to your fears. But did you know the reason you become desensitized is because ERP actually updates the brain. You know all those updates for your PC or MAC that you put off for weeks or months? And then finally you install the updates and well by golly, look at that, everything is working so much better! Well, that’s what ERP does for your brain.

I recently told a story about a boy who was afraid of crickets. What I didn’t tell you is that when he was 11 months old his home was infested with bed bugs. When his mother discovered the bed bugs she could be heard screaming miles away. When I met him he was over 10 years old. He had no recall of the bed bugs. But, it was as if his brain was stuck in time. His brain was never updated. There is a big difference between a cricket and a bed bug. But, a child less than the age of one wouldn’t know the difference. He was a 10 year old stuck in the brain of an 11 month old. He had gained a lot of resources and skills over the years. He had become less dependent on his very anxious mother. But, his brain never got that update either. It was as if his brain kept telling him he was in danger because his mother was too panicked to protect him. His brain didn’t recognize that he didn’t need the same level of protection he needed as an 11 month old.

Some of you can pinpoint the event that occurred in your life that probably got you stuck. I say probably because there’s no way to really prove it. Whether you can pinpoint a specific event or not, you have to do the same thing. Update your brain.

There is just one very simple thing you need to know, YOUR BRAIN NEEDS TO BE UPDATED. The reason for this isn’t important. If you have OCD, until a cure is found, you will always need to update your brain. The quickest, most powerful way to do it is through ERP.

This is day 12 of a 30 day challenge. The challenge is not to try and identify the event that got you stuck. There might not even be an event and if you think there is—you won’t be able to prove it. The challenge is to accept that you MUST update your brain on an ongoing basis. If you are avoiding something it means your brain needs an update. Your brain is stuck somewhere in the past.

Do you accept that you MUST update your brain through ERP?

The Indomitable Spirit of You

To know where you’re going, it sure helps to know where you’ve been. You’ve come a long way baby! You sound determined. You look determined. You know how to fake it ’til you become it.

You’ve been building your life one step at a time. Just when you take 3 steps backwards you turn it around and take 4 steps forward. You’re getting closer to the person you want to be every day.

You’ve proven you’re made of true grit. As you look back over all your hard work, you can see it right—your courage and unsinkable spirit? Time and time again you’ve overcome huge obstacles like fatigue, depression and fear. Sure, there’ve been times you said you were drowning. You really believed it and saw no hope. You even sunk to the bottom but to your complete surprise came up for air again. Again, and again and again. And each time you said you couldn’t—you wouldn’t.

You’re always surprising yourself. You always think this is the one time you’ll never rise up. But, surprise, surprise, you just aren’t sinkable!160_F_101557789_i00dQ7e9QM0xVjfcABD1OpMNBlp9SN60

I see you. I know who you’re becoming. I’m not alarmed when you take 3 steps backwards. You’re stronger than you know. I’m honored to be on this journey with you. You are loved, special and important. You remember that…

This is day 8 of a 30 day challenge. Here’s your challenge: Tell us or someone who you’re becoming. Do it today.

I’m Being Bullied

I’m being bullied by four men and one woman. I see them two or three times a week, whenever I play racquetball. I used to not have a care in the world when I walked into the club. I was on cloud nine and couldn’t wait to play my two friends. Now, I’m feeling apprehensive and wondering “What’s this mob going to do today?” They kick us off the court we’re playing in, “This is our court. We’ve played here for 27 years and this has always been our court. Move it.” Even though we reserved the court! We tried ignoring them but they just walked right onto the court and started playing! The woman is the worst of them all—really mean and intense. 160_F_49945142_70QUyFDXNFnP4JgMbORVBgxUOwUTMuqKShe’s so mean the pregnant woman who works there had to go to the hospital because her blood pressure hit the roof when this woman berated her.

Sunday morning they interrupted our play once again to tell us to move our things off the bench in the hallway. “Benches are for sitting, not things.” We didn’t like their approach but could understand they wanted to sit on the bench. We moved our things to a different bench. They never even sat on the bench! They played at the other end of the hall. Where’s the logic in that!

I’m so mad at myself. Why am I doing whatever they tell me to do! They’re just harassing us for the fun of it! They sit around and drink shots of Fireball and apparently have a long history of bullying people at the club. Last week I told one of the guys not to speak to us ever again. If they had a problem, I told him to go to the front desk. And yet, this Sunday that very same guy told me to move my things off the bench and I immediately did it!!!!! WHY AM I DOING WHATEVER THEY TELL ME TO DO?

We were going to enter a Round Robin tournament, but I just found out they play in it every week. I’ll tell you what, when you get hit with a racquet or a ball, it hurts!!!! Why would I put myself through that torture? Ah… yeah, we’ll just avoid that scene. I’m sad about it but I know they’ll play dirty. So why bother? I know, I know I’m being robbed—a part of my life is being taken from me. I’m being victimized and there’s nothing I can do. All I think about now is quitting. The owner is scared of them too.

I bet you’re wondering where I play racquetball? You want to know the name of the club? It’s called OCD.

This is day 5 of the 30 day challenge. Here’s the challenge: Call up OCD and tell it you’re coming and it ain’t going to be pretty.

If you know the moral of the story, please leave an anonymous comment!

Gratitude: The Great Sanitizer

160_F_71267059_mrswxnfs7P5YnpSTJ7iTBjih1iou0UkdI recently read a blog titled, “The Ten Worst Things to Say to Someone With Anxiety.” I disagreed with mostly everything. The list included: “Don’t tell someone with anxiety to be grateful.” I get that the last thing someone in pain wants to hear is, “Suck it up and count your blessings.” And honestly, I’d never say it like that! But, I strongly believe gratitude can wash away pain and anxiety. I feel strongly about this because I’ve witnessed the benefits of it in my own life. I even thank my refrigerator for keeping my food cold! I also see how gratitude helps so many people manage their emotional energy from negative to positive. There are plenty of studies to prove how much it helps to express gratitude.

Expressing gratitude is very powerful, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to do when facing adversity. So maybe that’s why the person who wrote that blog says it’s the worst thing to tell someone with anxiety. Maybe the author of that blog is looking for an easier way out. Just because you don’t like something you hear, doesn’t mean it’s wrong. If you know me then you know I’d love to ask the author, “You don’t express gratitude? How’s that working out for you?”

In the face of adversity you may not feel like expressing gratitude. You feel like crawling into a hole and never coming out. But, staying in that hole isn’t easy either. No matter what you do, it’s going to be hard. 160_F_106049106_kGUeuqhtWYLpfNtJIDnNjCggu3P0hYMIBut, if you make a plan to express gratitude even in the face of adversity, and you stick to that plan no matter how you feel, it actually will be easier than you think. Because the plan is already made. Less energy is required to follow a plan already made.

This is day 4 of a 30 day challenge. Here it is: Make a plan to express gratitude at least once a day, no matter how you feel. You can thank a person for the smallest little gesture. You can thank any object that has energy. Just do it no matter how you feel. (By the way, the author of that blog also hates to be told, “Just do it.”)
It might even help to sit down and make a schedule of who or what you’re going to appreciate each day for the month of April. Then stick to the plan! Have your phone remind you to “just do it.”

I love all the comments so keep them coming!

Here’s How One OCD Survivor Handles the Storms

160_F_72328507_cXab12fEAK7SeZL1lyQYu6gK5oJuMnIpIf 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.surrender

-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?

#keepfighting

~C.T.

 

How Dreams Can Help You Live a Better Life (Become a Dream Hacker in 10 Minutes.)

nightmare

Upsetting dreams, believe it or not, are a strangely wrapped gift. Scary, vivid dreams don’t look like a gift or feel like a gift…but they are! They’re just strangely wrapped. You’d think sleeping would give you a break from OCD, but that’s not the case for many. If you’re having upsetting dreams that’s great news! They can guide you to peace! Here are three clever strategies to turn your worst nightmares into bliss.

  1. Unpleasant dreams could be a sign that in your wakeful life you’re avoiding something. For example, I have this recurring dream about a gang of teenagers breaking into my house. They never harm me and I’m not afraid of them. I’m frustrated that they’re violating my personal space. This sort of dream makes me think about who I need to set a boundary with in my wakeful life. The content of your dream may or may not have anything to do with what you need to confront. So, don’t spend too much time analyzing your dream. OCD already has you analyzing way too much, so don’t add something new! Remember, the idea is to get out of your head and into your life! For quick ideas you can use an online dream interpreter. Action: Figure out what you need to face and begin to confront it. Once you do you will feel empowered by your victory and relieved of catastrophic thinking. hacking
  2. You may be able to get out of a nightmare by hacking into the dream. People who are self-reflective during waking hours have a greater ability to change the course of a bad or frustrating dream. This means while dreaming you can tell yourself “it’s just a dream” or you can even stand up to who or whatever is causing you angst in the dream. In fact, people who self-reflect have a greater ability to shake off a bad dream upon awakening. Here’s why: Self-reflection helps grow gray matter in the brain. That can come in pretty handy for people with OCD who have gray matter deficiencies! Why do you need gray matter? Because it helps control your perception of what is happening around you, including in a dream state. Be more self-reflective and you will be better able to hack into a bad dream or squelch a bad dream hangover. Action: Take 10 minutes every day to reflect. Here are 3 powerful reflections to help grow gray matter so that you can change the course of a bad dream, and especially the direction of your life:
    • Am I letting my core values drive my behavior?
    • Am I taking care of my body and making it a lean, mean fighting machine against OCD?
    • Am I thinking about my blessings and expressing my gratitude enough?surrender
  3. But, what if you can’t control your thoughts when you’re asleep any better than you can when you’re awake? Your dreams can be extremely vivid as a result of the side effects of medication or other brain chemistry changes. If you’re dreading going to bed because you are worried about having more bad dreams, it’s probably better to surrender and say, “And so it will be.” Be willing to go for the ride. Be willing to have unpleasant dreams the same way you must be willing to have unwanted, intrusive thoughts when you are awake. Metaphorical Action: Instead of trying to push the beach ball down to the bottom of the swimming pool, let it surface. Let the ball float around you and do nothing about it. This takes less energy and frees up your arms. Treat your bad dreams in the same manner. In fact, treat your unwanted intrusive thoughts this way. It’s much more peaceful to accept than resist.

So in summary here are the three actionable steps you can take to turn your worst nightmares into bliss:

  1. Make sure you are facing your fears during times you are awake.
  2. Be more self-reflective.
  3. Surrender.

Why Accountability is the Best Thing Since Sliced Bread

accountability

One of the most effective ways to gain power over OCD and get super determined to “Boss it Back” is to get an Accountability Partner. Accountability breeds determination!

First figure out who you want to be, and what it is you want to change or achieve. In 2016, I’m going to try out something new. Instead of setting New Year’s resolutions, that I end up drifting from, I’m going to use this blueprint and review it every 90 days with my Accountability Partners:

DESIGN YOUR LIFE BLUEPRINT

  1. The Purpose of my life is…
  2. My outer mission is…
  3. My inner mission is…
  4. The highest values I live and make decisions by are…
  5. My top goals for the next 90 days concerning health, spirituality, relationships, business and adventure….
  6. Books or podcasts I will use to enrich my life…
  7. Morning and evening habits I will stop or start.
  8. Daily routines will include…(e.g., Gratitude exercise, meditation, physical exercise.)

SHARE WITH AN ACCOUNTABILITY PARTNER

Once you have the details of your blueprint it’s important to share it with someone. That person is called an Accountability Partner. When choosing a partner or partners:

  1. Look for someone who will challenge you but not condemn you. Accountability is not forced but chosen.
  2. Pick someone who is emotionally resilient and positive. You want someone who won’t accept excuses, will ask hard questions but won’t belittle or give up on you.
  3. It’s helpful to pick someone who has had some success in the areas you are working on. You want someone who can help problem-solve.
  4. It’s actually a good idea to find more than one partner.
  5. As a team or individually talk at least online weekly and meet every 90 days.
  6. When you talk with your Accountability Partner, BE HONEST!

Cheers to “Bossing it Back” stronger and faster than ever before!