Category Archives: Self-Reflection

“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?
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:

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 backward 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 backward. 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…

Who are you becoming today? Sometimes you just gotta say I’ve had enough. I want to live my life. And if it’s just not that easy…Fake it ’til you become it.

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!