Category Archives: Self-Reflection

Does Self-Care Really Make A Difference?

An OCD thriver reached out to me to talk about how he made self-care a priority in his life. Because it made such a difference in his life he became passionate about sharing how to do it with others.
Here is his information if you want to learn more:

Life have you feeling upside down? Self-care has never been more important.

Joe Upside Down!

One thing that’s for sure… whether it’s OCD or an unexpected pandemic. Life is certainly full of unexpected surprises that can leave you feeling upside down.

The last time I wrote for Tammy’s blog I was in a very different phase of recovery. Since then I have spent the last year focusing on how to incorporate a healthier balance in my life.

By healthier balance, I mean both physical and mental habits that have had a significant impact on my overall well-being. Focusing on regular exercise, eating habits, mindfulness, gratitude, and other practices have been a significant contributor to my ability to handle the sideshow that can be running at any time in my mind.

My goal with these practices is not to eliminate any feeling or use this as a distraction. My mindset on OCD is that I will have this newfound annoying best friend for the rest of my life and while it can be challenging… there are many things I can do to better prepare myself for the long haul.

While not perfect… believe me I still have incredibly challenging days. One of my newfound purposes in life is to try and help others incorporate healthier habits into their lives and help them find their own purpose and find the belief to make sustainable changes in their life regardless of any failed attempts in the past.

With all that is going on in the world, it can feel very overwhelming and be quite… anxiety-producing itself. Now more than ever it’s incredibly important to make self-care a priority. Taking care of yourself allows you to be there for others and better support them.

Incorporating change doesn’t need to be scary… it doesn’t have to be a new fad diet or unrealistic weight loss expectations. Everyone’s journey is unique and like OCD treatment it isn’t a one size fits all package.

Whether or not you are interested in working together I would appreciate you checking out my site at:

and feel free to reach me at:

I would love to chat and answer any questions you may have. I do believe that with simple changes the effects of adopting a healthier lifestyle are incredibly powerful and am looking forward to helping you achieve whatever your personal goals are.

~Joe Dooley

An Introvert’s Survival Guide to the “New” Normal

As an OCD therapist, I’ve noticed many of my clients are introverts. It’s good for an introvert to embrace their unique needs. It’s not good to give OCD what it wants.

“Introverts live in two worlds: We visit the world of people, but solitude and the inner world will always be our home.”

~Jenn Granneman (The Secret Lives of Introverts: Inside Our Hidden World)

introvert

Introvert: Staying at home gets the creative juices flowing. So much to do with so little time!

OCD: Staying at home is time to think. Spend the day trying to fix awful thoughts and feelings. Understand with mental analytics. Avoid triggers out in the world.

Introvert: Sheltering-at-home means I don’t have to explain to people I feel like a round peg that doesn’t fit a square hole. I like being unique and different but people totally misinterpret my silence.

OCD: Stay home because if you don’t you’ll make a complete fool of yourself and be rejected forever and always. If you don’t stay home people will notice you are severely tongue-tied, dim-witted, and boring.

Introvert: I yearn for deep, meaningful conversations. Large groups drain me. The casual conversations and knowing how to fill the silence with idle chit chat is exhausting. 

OCD: You’re not connecting with people. What’s wrong with you?

 

Introverts: Unlike extroverts who get their energy from being around people, I find it draining and need downtime to decompress and refuel, so I can get out there and do it all over again.

It’s strenuous to think about what happens as the stay-at-home restrictions are lifted. It means accepting invitations to meet at nightclubs, participating in team meetings at work, or attending commemorations and other festivities. All of those situations can be tolerable and even enjoyable, but it’s exhausting.

OCD: What’s wrong with you? Are you depressed? Why are you tired? You’re depressed. OMG, you’re depressed. 

Introvert: I can be the life of the party, but later, I’ll need some downtime to recharge.

OCD: Now that you’ve been out in public you better mentally replay the event. Rewind and replay all of your interactions and make sure of…

Due to the pandemic, introverts haven’t had to deal with many social situations. Right now, if you cross the street to avoid bumping into someone, it’s totally acceptable and condoned.

The “New” Normal

People are being told it’s okay to get out into the world now. Coping strategies will need to be resurrected. But, given the “new” normal will strategies need to be updated? Will wearing masks add a new level of discomfort? Are people smiling or frowning? Are they upset or mad? Will standing six feet apart cause more stress?

How can we feel connected within such sterility?

introvert

Here’s an introvert’s survival self-talk guide:

  1. It’s okay to be an introvert. The difference between introverts and extroverts is mainly neurological, not psychological.
  2. Introverts are heartfelt thinkers and attentive listeners, and with extroverts, who are great at organizing and leading, together, we make the world go round.
  3. I might need to be a pseudo-extrovert at times, and feeling uncomfortable and weird is to be expected and endured. It can be unpleasant at times, but I can handle it.
  4. Stop being surprised by how awkward it is to be around large groups of people or how difficult it is to have superficial conversations. It is what it is and always will be.
  5. Be prepared that wearing masks and standing 6 feet apart may make it harder to feel connected. Just because I don’t feel it doesn’t mean I’m not connecting.
  6. Eat the frog first. It’s best to get it over with and be gawky or misspeak. I’m bound to do it anyway, so I might as well do it on purpose.
  7. It’s harmful to mentally rewind and replay the event or seek reassurance. There’s better things to do! Whatever happened, happened.
  8. Sometimes I am boring, and sometimes I am funny. I am both of those at different times. Together they make me a whole person.
  9. Perfection can only be faked. I’m willing to find out what my imperfections will lead to. 
  10. Build-in downtime to decompress and refuel. Don’t do too much socializing day after day. Try to spread it out.
  11. If an adult is upset with me, it’s on them to tell me; I have better things to do than try to read what’s behind the mask.
  12. Be proactive and come up with two meaningful and two superficial questions/comments before arriving at an event.
  13. Or, gladly practice sitting in silence.
  14. If I’m not able to relate or find anything in common with people, the same is true for how they aren’t relating to me. It takes two to tango. I’m not the only one responsible for carrying a conversation.

Even if you’re an introvert you’re probably looking forward to visiting with family and friends in person. You don’t mind revisiting the world of people, and in fact, reunions could get emotional, but it makes sense that solitude will always be your home. 

Are You White-Knuckling Your Way Through OCD?

ERP With a Clenched Jaw and White Knuckles

I’m on a mission to help you live well with OCD. And, I’ve got more than one idea of how to make it happen. In a series of posts over the next few weeks, I’ll share a variety of ways for you to manage OCD.

First, let me say that my clinical experience to date indicates there’s more to living with OCD than just white-knuckling your way through life.

A person with OCD often wishes out loud, “If only I could just trust myself again.” An Exposure & Response Prevention(ERP) therapist, such as myself, might say, “Well, OCD isn’t going to let you trust yourself. You have the doubting disease. There are things you will never know for sure.”

So, we discuss what must be done despite lacking faith in oneself. Employing ERP is at the top of the to-do list: Gradually confront what you avoid and do nothing to neutralize the anxiety. Endure the discomfort and resist compulsions. Accept the doubt.

And you know what? People with OCD can do it: They can go about their day, lacking confidence, having no sense of certainty or ease of mind. They are the least assured person walking the face of the earth, and yet people with OCD can accomplish anything. Anything. At. All. Including confronting their fears with little to no trust in who they are or what will happen.

But…is there more than tightening the jaw and fist, and pushing through the pain?

Does It Have To Be This Awful?

Exposure & Response Prevention continues to be the most widely regarded treatment for OCD. If I could wave a magic wand, every
client would use ERP to manage their OCD.

But, here’s a question: For those who do awful exposures, OCD Treatmentshould we say, “Congratulations! You forced yourself through that horrible exposure and tolerated all that discomfort! Good for you!”

White-Knuckling

Instinctively, these are the faces people make as they deal with obsessional thoughts and exposures:

ERP

People with OCD can white-knuckle their way through one trigger after another. But is that all there is? 

Is it enough to white-knuckle your way through triggers? Is there more to it than saying, “Whew, thank God that’s over with. I hope I never have to deal with that again.” Is it possible to feel better about going head-to-head with OCD?

YES!!! There’s more to ERP than forcing yourself to face your fears. Not only is there more to ERP, but there’s also more than ERP.

Come back soon for the next post!

Get Rid of Your Fear of Anxiety

Do you think it’s possible to get rid of anxiety? Read the title of this post again. It doesn’t say to get rid of anxiety. It says to get rid of your fear of anxiety. And, yes. It is possible to accept anxiety as an annoyance but nothing to be feared.

Get rid of your fear of how it feels to be anxious. If anxiety makes you feel lightheaded, stretch your arms out like an airplane and start spinning round and round. Make yourself lightheaded. If anxiety makes your heart pound faster, get up and do 50 jumping jacks. Get your heart pounding faster. Go ahead and drum up the feeling of anxiety. Give yourself a good dose of it.

Get rid of your paranoia about being anxious. If you’re worried that people will think less of you because you have a panic attack or act ditsy, then by golly, act more anxious! Get it over with. Don’t complete sentences during conversation. Bite your nails. Jiggle your legs. Wet your armpits with a sponge. Stutter. Make sure people know that you are super duper anxious. If someone thinks badly of you it’s because they’re miserable. Only a person who is hurting will judge you.

Get rid of your fear of the anxiety never ending. Maybe it won’t end. Maybe it will. Time will tell. Anxiety isn’t dangerous. It’s your reaction to anxiety that can make life chaotic. You can do anything anxious. You can do nothing by avoiding. Set your intentions. As an anxious person, who do you want to be? If the anxiety never lessens you can choose to acclimate. Become accustomed to feeling anxious and come to terms with having a thorn in your side.

Get rid of your fear of anxiety as a signal of bad things to come. Someone once said of me, “You don’t understand that we actually experience this stuff as real.” No one can know what it feels like to be in anyone’s shoes. But I certainly have been afraid of something terrible happening. And it sure felt real to me: “This time it’s really going to happen.” The truth is, if it’s not happening now, it’s not happening. If something bad does happen in real time, so be it. Bad things happen to everyone and we deal with them as they occur.

I’d rather be anxious than afraid of being anxious. How about you?

“My Therapist’s Crazy Science Experiments”

The following post is from a Guest Blogger who is new to living with OCD. He’s confronting three whopping obsessions, all at the same time and is using ERP to do it. Here’s his triumphant story:

At 27 there were many things I expected to be happening at this point in my life… engagement, getting a dog, planning the next vacation, enjoying life in a brand-new city… the list goes on.

The reality of it has been much different, thanks to my OCD diagnosis. Instead of what I had envisioned, I found myself doing things I never would’ve imagined to confront my fears and obsessive thinking.

Growing up with two older sisters I was used to being dressed up. However, that was over 20 years ago. I didn’t think I’d be playing dress up at 27, trying on my mom’s dresses and jewelry while “I am woman” plays on YouTube. I wish I was kidding but my therapist focuses on Exposure and Response Prevention therapy (E&RP) and this was one of the first exercises she assigned to me.

At first, it was terrifying but it ended up being very entertaining and my parents got a good laugh and some pictures to blackmail me with for the rest of my life. At least I know if I end up trans I can rock the s%&t out of a nice dress.

living with OCD
Another exposure exercise my therapist has me do is a bit more intense… Imagine having to hold a knife to your wrist and gut while having thoughts of killing/stabbing yourself play in your head.

When completing an exposure you’re not allowed to self-talk or re-assure that nothing is going to happen. To make the exposure even more intense my therapist has me say bloody and dark statements as I hold the knife… this definitely gets the anxiety pumping.

I’ve also had to hold the knife to strangers throats in group therapy and also to my parents. If you ever are looking for a way to spice up your weekday nights give it a try… but in all seriousness confronting these fears has been incredibly difficult.

Finally, in a group therapy setting, I came out as “gay” to a bunch of strangers who don’t know anything about me… hitting all three of my fears.

To others reading this post it may not seem like a big deal but to me all of these experiences were terrifying. I always get self-conscious when completing exposures because on top of the anxiety I feel ridiculous and embarrassed I’m having these obsessive thoughts.

But in the end, I can’t worry about it… I must continue to face my fears and continue to be a guinea pig to my therapist’s crazy science experiments because, in the end, it does appear to be working.

My anxiety and compulsions are improving… I still have thoughts but they don’t have the same amount of power over me as they used to and they aren’t as frequent. A lot of trust goes into my relationship with my therapist… I wouldn’t dress up as a woman for just anyone.

In the end, maybe one of these fears/obsessive thoughts will become reality but I can’t continue to live in fear and not attain my hopes and dreams. I will continue to embrace any exposure exercise that comes my way and hope that one day I can look back at it and have a good laugh. In a weird way, this is helping me become more comfortable in my own skin… an unforeseen perk of OCD.

Living With OCD

This young man’s account of the lengths he must take to break free from OCD is astounding. He is brave and strong, with a huge funny bone and an ever-growing mindset. He is determined not to be held hostage by fear. There is nothing he won’t do to #bossitback.

He is a blogger and openly shares his journey at Millennials for Mental Health. He’s candid about the many twists and turns he has encountered along the way. It’s not been easy for him and there are times he still gets tricked by OCD. Visit his blog and he’ll tell you how he stays strong and focused.

You can leave a comment here to help celebrate his victories!

One Thing Bossy-Pants OCD Hates

Bossy-Pants OCDTo cope with bossy-pants OCD, you might have gotten the idea it’s necessary to perform compulsions to feel “just right” or prevent bad things from happening.  Performing compulsions or mental acts might be what you’ve been doing for years. In your mind, it’s what you’re supposed to do or what you’ve got to do. At least, that’s what Bossy-Pants tells you.

Hallelujah, there are times you defy OCD! Somehow you pull it together, and you say, “NO!!! I’m not going to do that ridiculous compulsion.” In this precious moment, you have gained clarity and recognize that OCD is nothing more than a BFL (big fat liar). You resist the compulsion.

The anxiety rises. You ride it out. You use self-talk like, “Maybe it’s true OCD. Maybe it’s not. Time will tell.” Strangely your prediction doesn’t come true. It’s not the end of the world. Nothing bad happens. You tolerate the anxiety better than predicted. The discomfort dissipates. All by itself. No compulsion was needed. 

OCD strategiesTo your surprise, you don’t feel particularly anxious. But, alas you don’t feel amazing either. You don’t even take the time to pump your fist in the air and say, “Take that bossy-pants OCD!!! KAPOW!”

When you win the battle and outlast OCD are you reminded of your strength and courage? Do you feel blessed to have what it takes to be tricky enough to outwit OCD?

Bossy-Pants OCD Hates Gratitude

Developing the skill to break free of OCD involves much more than Exposure & Response Prevention. Without self-appreciation and gratitude, you will only end up white-knuckling your way through most of it.

Whenever you resist a compulsion be sure to savor the victory. If you have OCD then celebrating victories might not occur to you. Patting yourself on the back doesn’t come naturally to you.

Not honoring your achievements is a problem that needs your attention!

Don’t wait for OCD or anybody else to say, “Good job.” You must take time out to be thankful for all that you are doing to break free from OCD. Each success that you experience is a reason to be thankful.

Your ability to #bossitback means that you are developing a hard-earned skill. Give thanks for the ability to say no to OCD. Even if it’s only once in a while or some of the time–give thanks. Don’t ever, EVER minimize your ability to defy OCD.

beat OCDStay in the winning mode and keep your skills sharp by giving thanks. The more time you spend recognizing your victories, the higher the likelihood of beating OCD the next time, and the next time, and the next time.

If someone wants to give you a high five don’t deny; fortify!!!

Accept compliments. Put your hand on your heart and say, “thank you that means a lot to me.” Welcome the support you get from loved ones who are honoring your quest to break free from OCD. Their emotional support and encouragement will help you face the next fear. Recognize the gift your family and friends give to you when they applaud your efforts. Don’t deny or pooh-pooh their praise.

Truly appreciate when others point out your victories. Don’t take for granted people’s acknowledgment of your successes. Give much thought to their praise. Let the sun shine inside your mind and heart. Be happy to hear their kind words. 

When someone tells you how happy they are that you resisted a compulsion, allow yourself to feel inspired and you will endure again. 

When you say, “thanks that means a lot to me” it readies your mind to repeat the success. Embrace the positive feeling of being appreciated. Accept recognition from others. They too are being positively impacted by your hard work.

Even when others forget to recognize all your hard work know that the impact of resisting a compulsion is still just as significant. Other people don’t live in your mind. They don’t know what you’re up against. So if they fail to acknowledge your victories, don’t use it as an excuse to downplay your achievements. Minimizing your success will only cripple you.

It’s quite simple. There are negative consequences if you don’t celebrate your victories.

It is an astounding blessing to be able to accept challenges and bulldoze your way through OCD. Whenever you feel your hope and determination waning, take a moment to recount all of your successes. Don’t drift away from recognizing even the tiniest step forward. If you make light of your victories, you’re leaving the door wide open for OCD to close you out of future triumphs. 

Be grateful for each time you overcome OCD’s senseless demands. Be proud and give thanks when you resist a compulsion. Let the gratitude wash over you. Savor the moment of your victory. Basking in your achievements will rewire your brain!

Be thankful for each opportunity to learn and grow. Find the silver lining. 

Self-Reflection Questions:

  1. When you #bossitback how do you celebrate your victory? Eating a special treat? Listening to your favorite song? 
  2. How do you savor the moment of a triumph and anchor it in your mind? Do you do a happy dance? Clap your hands? High five somebody?
  3. How often do you express gratitude for all your hard work? Not often? How’s that working out for you?
  4. Do you say ‘thanks’ to others when they compliment you?
  5. Can you feel the gratitude of others even if they don’t thank you? If they don’t acknowledge your hard work does that mean they don’t notice it? Maybe in the past, you’ve shown discomfort when they spoke about your accomplishments.
  6. Are you treated differently by others when you pooh-pooh their praise? Do they become less verbal about your triumphs?
  7. What moves you forward: Putting yourself down or picking yourself up?

[pdf-embedder url=”https://secureservercdn.net/50.62.172.232/72f.48c.myftpupload.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/ad-copy.pdf” title=”Gratitude”]

Gift Idea: Gratitude the Great OCD Sanitizer

How to Turn Off Your Inner Critic

Gratitude: The Great OCD Sanitizer (How to Turn Off Your Inner Critic)

Can gratitude sanitize OCD? You betcha! Count your blessings and discover how the words of gratitude come to be a feeling that warmly washes over you. Sound too good to be true? The benefits of gratitude are scientifically proven! 

The voice of OCD always sounds like a critic: “You can’t handle it. You’re not good enough. You should be doing [this], and you should be doing [that]. You’re going to make a bad decision and mess everything up. If you’re not careful something horrible will happen. What did you do to cause this? It’s all your fault.”

OCD continually questions your motives and intentions. “Why do you have such [weird] thoughts? What do they mean? How come you didn’t use to think like this and now you do? What are you up to? You should feel guilty for thinking like this. Shame on you.”

Practicing gratitude is highly effective if you want to turn off your inner critic.

Decontaminate OCD’s sharp tongue by finding the silver lining. When you speak gratitude, you get energized and gain the courage to face anything OCD throws at you.

With an OCD sideshow running all the time, practicing gratitude isn’t easy to do. Once you get the hang of it though, in just a few minutes you can disinfect the negativity.attitude of gratitudeBy reflecting on your abundance and shifting your focus away from what you lack, you’ll soar above your worst worries!

Once you’ve worked gratitude into your daily routine, you’ll start to notice that your inner critic is much less stressed.

When you have finally let it sink into your subconscious mind that you have many blessings, your stress will start to slip away. OCD loses its grip on you.

How Grateful Are You? Take the Gratitude Test!

12 Fantastic Ways to Express Gratitude With Your Words

  1. I feel grateful for everything I receive today. No matter what occurs find the silver lining. If you end up with a challenge on your hands ask, “What does this make possible?”
  2. Be grateful for all that you have and shift your focus away from thinking about what you lack. Don’t bother comparing and contrasting how much better off someone seems to be. In a split second, all of that can change. “In this moment I have not needed to start a gofundme.com account. For this I am thankful.”
  3. I am grateful for all the activities of daily living I am able to perform. I scan my body and am grateful for the parts that function and help me throughout the day.
  4. I am continually amazed that my circumstances don’t stop me from giving love! No matter what is going on inside my mind or world, I am always capable of showing love.
  5. I overcome, I grow, and I prosper all the time. My abundant blessings, as well as my difficulties, make me better, stronger, and more alive. There is no destination. I choose to grow as I take this journey.

  6. I am so grateful that I GET to take out the garbage. I GET to go to work. I GET to go to school. I GET to have life experiences.

  7. I appreciate and show my sincerest gratitude to my loved ones. Once a day I tell at least one person how they are loved, unique and important.
  8. The universe is looking out for me. There may be trials and tribulations, but I am never alone. 
  9. OCD is a strangely wrapped gift. For [this], I am exceptionally thankful. 
  10. I am so amazed by the tiniest of creations. Just look at how this little inchworm moves or how this tiny ant carries a heavy leaf.
  11. I give thanks for all the abundance that is yet to be revealed to my friends and family. I wish them the strength to endure and the courage to explore.
  12. I am grateful for the experience that caused me to forgive someone.

attitude of gratitude

Spending some time expressing gratitude is one of the most natural “stress relief drugs” you’ll ever take. Gratitude comes with no ill side effects, and it’s free. Giving thanks is user-friendly. It’s also portable–it goes wherever you go.

Strategies to enhance feelings of gratitude:

  • Journaling about things for which to be grateful.
  • Thinking about someone for whom you are grateful.
  • Writing/sending a letter to someone for whom you are grateful.
  • Meditating on gratitude (present moment awareness.)
  • Undertaking the “Count Your Blessings” exercise.
  • Practicing saying, “Thank you that means a lot to me.”
  • Writing thank you notes.
  • Praying about gratitude.

Turn Off the Inner Critic With Gratitude

Studies: The Benefits of Gratitude

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

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:

[pdf-embedder url=”https://secureservercdn.net/50.62.172.232/72f.48c.myftpupload.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Poll-Results.pdf” title=”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.