Tag Archives: Beat OCD

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

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

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

Two People Found Each Other

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And yet she won’t celebrate. 😦

Reasons Why People With OCD Won’t Celebrate Their Victories 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When to Celebrate

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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