Tag Archives: intrusive thoughts

Obsessing About Obsessing

I have OCD

Pure O

Then it became a compulsion–how to let thoughts go. I made up a motto, “Don’t go there!” Meaning, don’t think about fixing thoughts. Sounds healthy right? It wasn’t. It became a compulsion. I had to say, “Don’t Go There.” 

I constantly have doubt after one of my thoughts. First, the doubt comes in: “Maybe I’m not good enough.” Then I start thinking about how I thought years ago. Would I have had that doubt back then? Rewind. How did I handle it back then? Should I try that strategy now? Down the rabbit hole, I go. 

Then I’ll come up with strategies of what I can do the next time a thought like that comes in my head. I go through times where I try to turn these “doubt thoughts” into positive thoughts. Then I go through days where my strategy is to agree with the doubt, but then I constantly turnaround and change the strategy as I believe that way wasn’t working. 

Pure O
There’s got to be a way out of this.

I’ve been doing this for so long. When I got a “doubt thought” years ago I would challenge it or turn into a positive, but now I get a “doubt thought” and it’s like I freeze—like I hit a brick wall.  Because, I’m not sure if I should challenge the thought, turn it into a positive thought, agree with the thought or do nothing about the thought. 

I spend hours trying to figure out how to let thoughts go. I just wish I could think normal without trying to change my thoughts. 

The doubt thoughts are not scary. It doesn’t scare me to think I’m inadequate. Like I’ll send a message to a friend, then doubt rushes over me: “Maybe I sent the wrong message.” That’s not what bothers me. I’m scared of what to do to boss it back–to let the thought go. I’m scared I won’t use the right strategy.

This happens after every kind of thought.

I’ve tried medication but nothing ever was like wow! And I can’t up the dosage enough anyway. 

If the “let the thoughts go” didn’t hit me so hard with so much energy behind it, it would be ok but it’s so strong. I keep thinking if I turn it into a positive it’s wrong. No matter what I do it’s going to be wrong.

I’ve read so many articles on google I over think and over read. I’m just constantly trying to think a certain way to beat this OCD.  I did read something that sounded similar, when OCD goes meta, obsessing about obsessing. Maybe that information will lead to a good strategy. 

I Have OCD

This person with OCD, (we’ll call Sam) learned some time ago that’s he’s supposed to let go of unwanted, intrusive thoughts. But, he became tangled up in figuring out how to let go. Choosing the best strategy to “let go” is a decision that sends him into a tailspin. He spends hours researching and analyzing what to do. 

Sometimes he builds a sense of certainty about a specific strategy. “It worked for others maybe it will work for me!” He receives temporary relief. But in no time at all, that strategy stops working. The doubt seeps in: “How do I let go of these thoughts the next time?” And the research and analyzing begin again. He’s trying to engineer the perfect plan.

I imagine a therapist would begin like this:

Therapist: Let the thoughts of inadequacy be there. Allow these thoughts. 

Sam: Okay. So don’t try to fix the thoughts of inadequacy?

Therapist: We’re all inadequate so who cares?

Sam: So agree with the thoughts? Just say, “Yup, OCD, I’m inadequate like everybody else?”

Therapist: Go further than that. Tease OCD. “You know what, OCD? I’m more inadequate than other people. I haven’t climbed Mt. Everest and others have. How’s that for insufficiency, OCD? A 75-year-old completed the Ironman, and I haven’t. How’s that for inadequacy, OCD?”

Sam: Okay, so not only agree with OCD’s worry that I’m inadequate but one-up OCD by flooding?

Therapist: Sure. You could even punch it out like this, “How do you like that OCD! I haven’t even made it into the Guinness Book of World Records. Take that for big headline news, OCD!”

Sam: Okay, so I could even say things like this: “Talk about inadequacy, OCD I forgot to pay my friend for lunch yesterday.  Make sure you write about it, OCD! Put it in the headlines for all to read, OCD! I’m going to shout out my inadequacy from the rooftop! It’s good to tell the world!” Could I punch it out like that?

Therapist: It sounds like sarcasm and a lot of sass. It seems like you’re in a boxing match and you’re winning by taking jabs at OCD. It’s like you’re saying, “Come and get me, OCD.”

Sam: Yeah. I like it. Okay. I’m going to agree with OCD by poking fun at it and flooding. That’s how I … can … let… the … thoughts … go.

Bam! He Just Hit a Wall. A GREAT BIG WALL.

Therapist: Is that your goal? To let go of thoughts?

Sam: Yes, isn’t that what I’m supposed to do?

Therapist: No.

Pure OSam: What??? Am I not trying to let go of thoughts? That doesn’t make sense. All I’ve ever learned is to figure out a way to let go, let go, let go.

Therapist: I’m saying it’s not your goal…to let go of thoughts. The opposite of letting go is to fetch, detain, embrace, engage, keep up, pull in. Do the opposite of letting go.

Sam: But, I’ve been trying to let go of thoughts all these years. Isn’t that what I’m supposed to do!

Therapist: Not if it’s a compulsion.

Sam: If I have an unwanted, intrusive thought I’m supposed to let it be. If I think I’m inadequate, I’m supposed to let that thought be. Just let it go. And you just said I could let it go by agreeing with the thought, poking fun at OCD and going to the extreme by flooding. Now you’re saying not to do that because it’s compulsive. I’m confused.

Therapist: It’s not uncommon for OCD to turn what you’re “supposed” to do, into what you “better do.” Whatever you view as crucial, sacred or precious, OCD will hyper-focus on it and break it down into some nitty-gritty mission to control and keep safe.

Sam: (Heavy sigh.) Okay, tell me please what I’m supposed to do. How should I “boss it back?” I don’t care if I’m inadequate. I want to respond to the thought in the right way. What’s the right way to let go?

Bam! He Just Hit a Wall. A GREAT BIG WALL.

Therapist: I’m not sure the goal to “let go in the right way” is of much help to you. It seems to be leading you into compulsive behavior. Is it time for you to let go of letting go?

Sam: What does that mean?

Therapist: The opposite of letting go is to fetch, detain, embrace, engage, keep up, pull in. 

Sam: What am I fetching? Opportunities to practice being inadequate?

Therapist: If inadequacy bothers you, fetch opportunities to be inadequate. But you’ve said incompetence doesn’t bother you. It seems like your core fear is not being able to let go of thoughts. 

Sam: How do I let go of letting go?

Therapist: The more important question has to do with your motivation. Why do you want to learn a strategy for letting go? What is your reason? What do you hope to achieve by letting go of letting go?

Will He Hit a Wall or Breakthrough Here?

Sam: I just wish I could think normal without trying to change my thoughts. 

Therapist: If your goal is to stop trying to change your thoughts you might want to think about having more of those thoughts. OCD is an opposites game. When you feel like you should think it less, think it more. 

Sam: I don’t want to think more though! I want to think less!

Bam! He Just Hit a Wall. A GREAT BIG WALL.

Therapist: I suspect that has been your goal for many many years–to think less. How has that been working out?

Sam: It’s not! I can’t stop thinking. I want to stop thinking!

Therapist: What do you think would happen if you tried to think more? Fetch, detain and pull in more of these thoughts of not being able to let go.  Upon hearing this how does it make you feel?

Sam: Anxious.

Therapist: Good. Then we’re on to something.

Sam: I’m not sure I understand what to do. It makes me anxious.

Therapist: Good. You want the anxiety. It’s not bad. It’s good. Do you know the thought you need to have more of not less of? 

Take the poll and I’ll respond soon! ~Stay tuned!~

Pure O

How to Enjoy Life Now. Hint: This is Not a Rehearsal

We all take a lot for granted. We live in yesterday or tomorrow. It’s hard to be present, in this moment…we’re pretty OK. If we let ourselves, we could worry all day long. Mostly over things that will never even happen. And if they did happen, it wouldn’t be the catastrophe our mind-gone-wild tells us. How is it possible to enjoy life with so much worry?

This week I visited a Butterfly Conservatory in Massachusetts called Magic Wings. IMG_2157

okay I did squirm when it crawled on my neck!
okay I did squirm when it crawled on my neck!

Given my bug phobia you’d think that’d be the last place I’d want to go! Especially when they land on you! But I boss it back now!

It was very relaxing and I found myself taking deep breaths. I was in the moment. There are no predators in the conservatory. These butterflies seemed so happy. Over 3,000 butterflies zooming all around, stopping for bananas or nectar. I felt so happy for them and pondered the miracle of their creation and mysterious life cycle. 

There was a sad moment though. I teared up when I learned about the Atlas Moth.IMG_1575 She has no mouth and therefore can only live about 7 days. And much of that time is spent sleeping, waiting for her mate to find her.

Another Just Hatched
Another Just Hatched

Statistically, if we live 75 years, at 7 or 8 hours of sleep a night, we will have slept about 25 of those 75 years. The Atlas Moth sleeps about 6 of her 7 days of life!

My friends and I wondered, with no way to thrive why has this species been created? What is the purpose of the Atlas Moth’s existence?

We came to an agreement that she’s here to give us an important message. One of us thought of Tim McGraw’s song, “Live Like You Were Dying.” But since this moth sleeps all the time, it seemed like her message had to be something else. But, one could argue the point, “Exactly, don’t sleep your life away. This isn’t a dress rehearsal.”

I’ve since learned that these moths are cultivated in India for the durable silk it secretes which is used to make purses. But, it doesn’t answer the question of, “Why can’t it have a mouth? Why was it created to only live 7 days?” I can’t come up with any better answer than its message to live life to its fullest because we don’t get a dress rehearsal.

How can we do that? We get bogged down with responsibilities. Exhaustion is a constant battle. There’s so much to worry about. How can we live life to its fullest? How can we enjoy life but not obsess about doing it!

For the answers, I visited other people’s blogs. Here are some excerpts from those blogs:

Learn to Make the Most of Your Time160_F_20199276_5xlNinnPcFCmYZGypiv3a8TDKgu8zeEu-2

“We only get so much time, and to make the most of our lives we need to fully utilize this limited amount of time to make this life amazing. To ensure that we’re making the most of our time, it’s important to be conscious of how we are using it, what we are using it for, and if we’re using it wisely to make us happy. Are you really making the most out of your time? Are you enjoying the things you do in your current routine? Are you being productive? Plan in advance and create a checklist of everything you’d like to achieve and then tick off each achievement as you go along.”

Happiness Doesn’t Just Happen

“Everyone has the right to happiness although unfortunately it seems to be innately programmed into us that we feel guilty when we get it. Another human trait that goes hand-in-hand with this, however, is that we tend to sit around waiting for happiness to descend on us one day when, in reality, this doesn’t happen. We need to stop feeling guilty about happiness and stop expecting that happiness is just going to happen to us like magic. Instead, it’s time to start putting in the effort today. Outline your goals and decide what you want to do; think way beyond your comfort zone. To make your life amazing, you need to be proactive, so go out there today and start achieving your dreams.”

https://www.realbuzz.com/articles/5-ways-to-make-the-most-of-life/

How to Make the Best of It160_F_71267059_mrswxnfs7P5YnpSTJ7iTBjih1iou0Ukd

“When living in the moment, full of gratitude for it, there is no question about what happened, what might happen or what could have been. Living in the moment means to accept the past as what it is: a bygone and not changeable experience that will only have an influence on your present life if you allow it to.”

How to Make the Best of Life, Without Fearing Failure160_F_112124725_IAgJplCgrO5mVYTISlvJNNeDama7gUho

“Fear is a major aspect that keeps people from living their life to the fullest. No matter if it’s the fear of failure, or the fear to disappoint your beloved ones. In the end, you will have to ask yourself if you want to allow fear from preventing you of doing the things you would really like to do. Regret can be a lot more painful than fear itself.”

http://www.planetofsuccess.com/blog/2012/make-the-best-of-life/

How to Stay in the Moment

“There’s a one-in-two chance your mind is on something else as you read this sentence. A study by Harvard psychologists in 2010 asked people to track their thoughts, feelings and activities at random intervals, and discovered that they spend 46.9% of their time doing one thing while thinking about another. They also found this daydreaming makes them more unhappy than if they were paying attention to the present moment, even when it’s unpleasant.”

160_F_61978411_WH1ljyTm5Au9EccRXTLYhIq7AU278gmU3 Steps to Take:
• Pay attention to your breathing. Find a quiet space and concentrate on the flow of your breath, in and out. When your mind begins to wander, gently bring it back to noticing your breathing.
• Bring awareness to sensations of touch. Our bodies are always in the present moment. Consciously feeling your feet on the floor, your bottom on a chair, or your clothes against your skin can bring your mind back too.
• Watch your speed. Three times a day, for one minute, simply stop what you’re doing and notice what’s happening in your mind and body. Becoming more familiar with your mind’s habitual patterns can help you to work with them much more skillfully.

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2012/jan/28/enjoy-living-present-moment

The Steps Can Be Small

“Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to make drastic changes in order to notice an improvement in the quality of your life. At the same time, you don’t need to wait a long time in order to see the measurable results that come from taking positive action. All you have to do is take small steps, and take them consistently, for a period of 100 days.”

http://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifestyle/60-small-ways-to-improve-your-life-in-the-next-100-days.html

surrenderIt’s Hard to Be Happy When I Compare Myself to Others.

“If I look at my dreams, desires, and hopes for the future as coming from a place of limited supply, it will constantly feed the notion that someone else’s success is a threat to mine. So what do we do? The very opposite of what feeds unhealthy comparison and competition.

We ask God to bless others. We look for ways to help others succeed. We come alongside our fellow dream chasers and assure them this world needs more of what they uniquely have to offer.”

https://michaelhyatt.com/success-threatened.html

Signs that Happiness Exists Even if You Don’t Feel It:

What if you can’t tell if you’re enjoying life? What if OCD makes you doubt or obsess about your happiness?  Look for these signs and go with it:

“People praise you for your inner strength. The trick here is to listen to what others are saying and allow yourself to believe it too.

Even though you may still feel sad inside, you are not crying much anymore and you generally feel a little better. Embrace that you are doing better, even if it’s only little things that you can see at the moment.

You are getting more done. As you get back to your old self, you can take pride in your productivity and enjoy the process more than you have.

You are rethinking your life path. This may propel you into a new direction, perhaps toward your life’s dream.160_F_69325513_kjUZc2oxEDA2PThOUDQUBt6kdGE8okMP

You have fewer negatives in your life. 

Sometimes you can see a light at the end of the tunnel, but you’re still concerned it’s an oncoming train. Again, this is part of the normal emotional healing process. As time passes, the light gets bigger and you can see the world beyond.

Life has become a little more social. 

Your physical body is responding better. You don’t have that unbalanced feeling in your stomach, your energy is better, and you are feeling stronger. 

You are feeling that your life matters. Feeling that you matter to others is a very important part of many people’s lives. The only thing that’s required is your desire to be a good person.”

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/emotional-fitness/201601/10-signs-your-life-is-getting-better

How Does Happiness Happen?

If you want to discover the science behind happiness there’s a free course you can take HERE. Hint: It’s not a feeling. It’s an action. This course starts September 6th so don’t procrastinate! Discover research-backed tools to happiness!

Summary

Pay attention to the experience you’re creating. Since this life isn’t a dress rehearsal, make the best of your time. Be conscious of how you spend it.

Don’t wait for happiness to happen. Look for it. Learn about it. Hunt it down through action not feeling.

Live in the present; not the past or future.

Everything you want is on the other side of fear.

Just put one foot in front of the other and take small steps.

Instead of comparing yourself to others, wish them an abundance of love and light.

Even if you feel like you’re not enjoying life, it might not be true! If you’ve got the doubting disease, feelings can’t be trusted. Look for signs of happiness.

Here are a couple of videos from the Butterfly Conservatory: (Turn down the volume for a more peaceful effect.)