Thanks to OCD, is your mind stuck like glue? Do you have a thought or two, or three or more that haunt you? Have you figured out how to break free from OCD?
What’s the best way to handle unwanted intrusive thoughts?
To begin with, calling them unwanted and intrusive is the first mistake. Think about the message this gives the Fear Center in your brain. You’re telling your brain to be on alert because this thought means something bad is about to go down.
It’s better to call these difficult thought patterns “wanted” and “appreciated.” I know that sounds ludicrous but that’s how you beat OCD. It’s mental Kung Fu–a unique style of combat fought in the mind.
Want the thoughts and the Fear Center feels no threat. Appreciate the thoughts and you develop a growth mindset–an opportunity to use the thoughts to practice your skills.
Break Free From OCD by Using Mental Kung Fu
What is mental Kung Fu? It means accepting a thought with minimal resistance and yet getting maximum effect.
This is how to use mental Kung Fu:
- Fetch it. Bring the thought in. Summon the thought. “I’m going to trigger the thought on purpose as often as I can.”
- Pull it in. Take hold of the thought with a force like you are twisting its arm. “I’m going to exaggerate this thought to make it even worse.”
- Detain it. Keep it from leaving. “Hey, where do you think you’re going? Oh no, you don’t. You stay right here.”
Here are the results of a poll taken from the last blog post:
As you can see, “I hope I think like this all day long” received the most votes. Good! That goes along with DETAINING the thought. “Good there’s my thought. I want it to last.” It’s not easy to say that about an OCD thought but it’s how to play mental Kung Fu.
The answer that received the second highest number of votes, “I have no idea and never will” is another example of DETAINING the thought. You are prepared to live your life with this thought for the rest of your life.
Thankfully, the answer with zero votes was, “Stay positive there’s an answer to this.” Trying to get to the bottom of an obsession is pointless. OCD cannot be satisfied for very long at all. Just when you think you’ve removed all doubt, another tantalizing question arises.
The fact that “there’s an answer to this” received ZERO votes shows the readers of this blog are well-informed of WHAT NOT TO DO. People with OCD know that trying to get to the bottom of a “what-if” question or trying to get clarity on a “what to do next” decision only leads down the rabbit hole.
Inside the rabbit hole is more confusion than can be imagined. A person with OCD has spent a lot of time in a rabbit hole so they know they don’t want to go down one. So the plan is to accept uncertainty and to NOT seek out answers or try to get relief from all the doubt.
But Wait!!!!!!! Zero votes, and yet seeking answers is the technique most frequently employed by people with OCD. The plan is to NOT SEEK ANSWERS but the feeling of discomfort interferes with that plan.
Mental Kung Fu is sticking with the plan and not letting feelings interfere. No matter how terrible it feels stick with the plan: Fetch it, pull it in and detain it.
It’s also not very effective to label a thought as “just OCD.” Upon first being diagnosed it’s part of the educational process to label thoughts as OCD or part of the doubting disease. But eventually (the sooner the better) it’s crucial to stop labeling thoughts as “just OCD.”
Relabeling your thoughts as “just OCD” won’t work for very long because it doesn’t FEEL like OCD. It feels real.
The response, “I am inadequate and so what” is a good way to shrug off OCD. What is there to be anxious about if you don’t care? Except, having harmful thoughts can be hard to shrug off. It can be done but for some people, if the thought is so abhorrent it’s hard to say “so what” and mean it!
The response “Yup, I might never think normal” is certainly showing a strong, radical force of acceptance. It’s the complete opposite of trying to wriggle your way out of a thought. But, for many people, radical acceptance is a hard line to walk without becoming self-loathing or despondent.
To PULL IT IN means to agree wholeheartedly with OCD by exaggerating. “My teeth are so large I’m going to trip over them one of these days.” That’s an outstanding way to shrug off OCD! If you have a creative imagination and a dry sense of humor, this approach will be right up your alley.
Break Free From OCD by Using Mental Kung Fu
FETCHING the thought is Mental Kung Fu at its finest. It is an impressive way to employ minimal resistance to get maximum effect. For example, if you obsess that your teeth are too large then go fetch a costume pair of very large teeth and wear them in public. Take that OCD!!!
FETCH, PULL IT IN and DETAIN OCD! This is known as Exposure & Response Prevention, widely known as the most effective way to break free form OCD. Confront your fears and do nothing to relieve the anxiety caused by the trigger.
Minimal resistance and maximum effect.