Tag Archives: OCD

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.)

 

When Nothing Seems to Be Helping: 6 Forgotten Strategies

“I’m doing everything I’m supposed to be doing but I’m getting worse.”

160_F_89370013_GwaInZhMeQfhk4zkfJRWGHpPxaoPHsjN

It’s pretty scary when you’re working so hard and getting no relief. It’s hard work to get better every day. There are lots of strategies to use but many of them get forgotten. Here is a list of the ones most often forgotten:

1.) The Goal is Not to Get Relief
Remember the goal is not to get relief. That is a byproduct of all your hard work, but don’t make it the main objective. Don’t use “relief” as a measurement of your success. This is mental Kung Fu. You can’t let your brain know what you really really want. Tell your brain you’re working hard for the practice not the outcome. Measure your success by the number of opportunities to practice and sharpen your skills. At the end of the day if you’re able to say you had a lot of opportunities to practice then say, “It was a good day. Hard, but good.”

2.) Don’t Plateau
Practice makes progress. You don’t have to be perfect at your practice. You just have to practice, practice, practice. And the practice needs to get progressively harder. Many people keep using the same old exposure because it helped once before.

Take gradual incremental steps towards practicing harder and newer challenges. Don’t plateau. Every day do 5 exposures. Don’t do the same exposures every day unless they’re challenging. When they’re no longer challenging, it’s time to climb the hierarchy. 

3.) Recontaminate
Let’s say in the heat of the moment your anxiety wins and you give in to OCD. It’s not the end of the world! You didn’t lose the battle! You only lost an opportunity to practice. Quick! Find an opportunity to practice! Go back and “recontaminate the scene” to get the point back from OCD. Recreate the trigger or create a new one.

Here’s a classic example of what it means to “recontaminate:”      If you gave in and washed your hands because you touched something suspicious, then go back and touch it again without washing. If that’s too hard, touch something less risky but still “unsafe.” Don’t sanitize, resist washing.

This method of “recontamination” can be done for any trigger. First, notice that OCD got the point. Then ask, “What can I do to get the next point?” If it was a scary thought that you just “fixed” conjure the scary thought back up and don’t do anything to “fix” it. If that’s too hard then look at your hierarchy and pick something, anything. Just get your power back!

4.) This Moment, Right Here, Right Now
Don’t worry about doing better all day long. That’s daunting! If you look too far ahead you’ll only get overwhelmed. It’s only about these 15 seconds, right here, right now. Keep your nose to the grindstone. Climb the mountain one step at a time. Don’t look at the top until you’re there.

5.) Seize the Moment
Everything comes to an end. Everything. So there is no better time than now. If you’re thinking about going out of your comfort zone, OCD will talk you out of it. Don’t overthink. There’s a reason Nike has made so much money from the tagline, “Just Do It.”

There are so many “firsts” that you’ll never have again. The first vacation. The first hike. The first day at work. The first speech. The first double date. Don’t let OCD rob you of your firsts. Say, “I’d rather take the risk than live like this.”

6.) What Are You Valuing?
Are you on automatic pilot or are you letting your values drive your behavior? Conduct an assessment and consider realigning your values.

Do you value adventure over security and cautiousness? If you pick adventure over security that’s going to feel uncomfortable because you’re stepping out of your comfort zone. Valuing adventure sounds like this: “I will gladly tolerate the discomfort so that I can experience…(new opportunities.)”

Do you value family time over isolation and being trigger-free? What’s family time worth to you? Everything comes to an end. Everything. There’s no better time than now to be with family. Is it worth the fatigue and discomfort? If you isolate will you really end up any less fatigued? What does valuing family sound like to you? “I will gladly tolerate being afraid and the fatigue that comes with it so that I can experience…”

Do you value productivity over being safely idle? If you value productivity then you’re going to make mistakes. Do you value progress over perfection? What does it feel like to be robbed of life experience just to be safe? And even living ever so cautiously, do you ever really feel safe? What does valuing productivity sound like to you? “I will gladly accept the possibility of making mistakes so that I can experience…”

Do you value freedom over control? If you could be carefree and willing to make mistakes, how much bigger would your world get? If you make your world as small as possible do the worries actually go away? Does controlling everything actually make you anxiety-free? What does valuing freedom sound like to you? “I will gladly let go of trying to control ______________ so that I can experience…”

Do you value independence over dependence? Are you willing to make the wrong decision and accept the consequences? If you don’t make any decisions and rely on others to get you through the day, does that actually make you feel better? Don’t you still feel a sense of responsibility looming over you? Whether you are accepting responsibility or not won’t you still be anxious? What does valuing independence sound like to you? “I will gladly make my own decisions and face any consequence so that I can experience…”

This is day 25 of a 30 day challenge. What can you do to help you remember these often forgotten strategies? Which one(s) do you usually forget about? Do you have another strategy that helps, but you sometimes forget about?

Is This OCD or ME? How to Find Out in Less Than 10 Minutes

How can I tell if my bad thoughts are caused by OCD? This pounding unstoppable thought that something bad could happen—is that OCD or intuition? Could the bad thoughts be a reflection of who I am and OMG what I really want? These are questions I get asked a lot. 

I listen to my clients and hear the sound of confusion. Even with a diagnosis of OCD people don’t believe their bad thoughts are just a bizarre side effect of a strange neurological condition. There is 160_F_103659112_UGJStekEhKfNymvHV8oJsWCTdfwpMsmgno sound worse than confusion. I’ll take nails on a chalkboard any day over the sound of confusion. I want to scream THIS IS SO OUTRAGEOUS! THIS IS RIDICULOUS! It’s so abundantly clear to me that it’s OCD. Hello!!! Captain Obvious! But someone with OCD has never met Captain Obvious.

But there are ways to put the thoughts to the test and find out if they’re just neurons misfiring, creating false alarms and causing you to be hyper-aware. Exposure & Response Prevention (ERP) is the most effective way to do this. I won’t describe that therapy here—another post another time. Instead I want to share two ways to challenge your thoughts and name it OCD.

#1 Let’s Poll the Population

Let’s ask 50-100 people what they think and whatever the majority of them say—that’s how we determine if you’re having a reasonable thought or worry. If it’s not reasonable, we’re going with “It’s OCD.”

I’ve posted questions on Facebook to find out what the majority would worry about. 

These are just some examples of what I’ve asked my Facebook friends: Would you still love a significant other if his or her stomach wasn’t flat.(Yes) Since toilet paper doesn’t come with instructions, what is the average # of wipes after a bowel movement.(3) Recently I asked when is it appropriate to ask a question at work regarding an assignment. (I’ll share these answers in another post—it’s lengthy!) Do you wash your hands after touching a doorknob?(No) Do you knock three times on the ceiling to keep a loved one from harm?(No) Are you hyper vigilant about touching your dog?(No)

Once I’ve collected answers the results are shared with clients who are obsessing about these topics. The majority rules and proves reasonable behavior/worries. If the behavior or worry proves to be unreasonable we call it OCD and boss it back.

Sometimes we can’t poll the population and we just imagine what 100 people would say. In a gymnasium of 100 people how many of them would be worried about being gay? Not the majority!

#2 Is Your Brain Super Focused?
Another way to tell if it’s OCD is to ask how long you’ve been focused on one particular thought or worry. How long have you been trying to get certainty? The brain normally has a very short 160_F_20199276_5xlNinnPcFCmYZGypiv3a8TDKgu8zeEu-2attention span. The average brain can only focus intensely for about 5-10 minutes, and then it drifts.

So if you’re wondering if this thought or worry you’re having is OCD, ask yourself if the amount of time you’re focusing on it has increased or decreased. The brain does not naturally expand its capacity to focus! If you’re stuck on a thought and increasingly spending more and more time on it—you’re brain is not functioning normally and this is the very nature of OCD.

Even if you poll the population and discover you’re not behaving like the majority or if you discover your brain is spending an abnormal amount of time focusing on one specific thought—you’re probably still going to question, “Is this OCD or the real me?”

If you have OCD you have the doubting disease and there is no way to get certainty about why you’re having the thoughts you’re having. Your brain will try to keep pulling you into the abyss—a bottomless pit. You’ve got to be strong and say, “The majority of 100 people aren’t worrying about this so I’m not going to either. No matter how much doubt I have, I’m going to act like the majority. It could be risky but if other people aren’t thinking about this past 5 or 10 minutes, then neither am I.”

Leave a comment about your own success with these two tests. Have you tried either one?

How to Build Your “Boss it Back” Toolbox in One Day: Tool #6 Most Recommended by OCD Experts

In the heat of the moment it’s so easy to forget everything you’ve ever learned about bossing back OCD. Here are 8 essential toolbox must-haves!

emptytoolbox

Tool#1

Make a collage of what you are fighting for. If you weren’t feeding OCD, what would you be doing? Get pictures from the Internet or magazines that reflect your values, hopes and dreams and make a collage for inspiration. In the heat of the moment, especially when anxiety is at its highest, refer to your collage. Remember what you are fighting for and resist feeding OCD!

Tool#2

Find an object that symbolizes the patience, energy, and time needed to master the ability to defy OCD. Defying OCD doesn’t happen overnight or in one week. A symbol that signifies kungfuiachievement through hard work and long practice is captured in a Chinese term: Kung Fu. Use something like a stone, piece of jewelry or decal to remind you that defying OCD is mental Kung Fu—it takes hard work and time.

Tool#3

Replace compulsions with healthy habits. Many people report a loss of identity and purpose when they stop filling up their time with feeding OCD. You can recreate personal satisfaction and personal meaning by creating healthy habits. Since checking off a habit each day and keeping a log of progress improves motivation consider using an app to keep you on track. Siri will gladly remind you about the healthy habits you are working on. If you want to get more in depth coaching, get an online or smartphone habit App. Some of the best apps include: Nozbe, LifeTick, Strides, Coach.Me, Habit List, irunurun, Goals on Track and Daily Goals. I also offer Healthy Habits private Facebook groups and personal recordings.

Tool #4

Create “Boss it Back” statements that address your cognitive errors.

“If I’m not 100% sure of safety, then there is absolutely 100% certainty of danger.” “I’d rather take the risk than live like this.”
“If I think bad thoughts, bad things will happen.” “If something bad happens, I will pay the consequences.”
“I’ve got to do everything perfectly.” “I’d rather be imperfect than live like this.”

Tool #5

Get some juggling balls or coloring books and practice focusing at least 5 minutes every day. This will help restructure your brain and activate other parts of your brain besides the amygdala. Meditating or focusing exercises will help you develop the ability to focus on what you choose to focus on. We can’t stop obsessions from happening, but can certainly learn how to simply notice these obsessions without analyzing them and focus rather, on the task at hand.

Tool #6

facefear

Write down a hierarchy of your fears and prepare to gradually climb that hierarchy from easiest to hardest. This is widely recognized by OCD exerts and researchers as the most effective way to boss OCD back. Click Here for a description of Exposure & Response Prevention and ideas for building your hierarchy. This self-help book will also help you build a hierarchy.

Tool #7

Celebrate! So that you always have an idea how to recognize your hard work, put a list of ways to celebrate your victories in your Toolbox. OCD hates it when you celebrate and will try to tell you not to do it after you win a battle. Strike a Superman pose, fire up some happy music, do a happy dance or do something nice for someone. Celebrate the fact that you just took a step in the right direction.

Tool #8

Identify an Accountability Partner and put the contact information in your Toolbox so that you always remember this is a tool. Include the reasons why you chose this person as your accountability partner. Share the contents of your Toolbox with your Accountability Partner. When you are struggling go to your Accountability Partner to remind you to use one or all of your tools. Don’t go to some random friend or family member who knows nothing about your Boss it Back Toolbox. They’ll most likely end up reassuring you and feeding your OCD.

There are many other tools for your toolbox but these are some of the top ways to Boss it Back. Get proactive and make your Boss it Back Toolbox today! Don’t waste time! OCD has robbed you of enough!

5 Mistakes People Make When Having Bad OCD Thoughts

dreamPeople with OCD aren’t the only ones thinking the worst thoughts at the most inappropriate times. Everybody gets weird scary bad thoughts. One time while petting my dog Bella, I thought, “She’s so muscular; she’d make a good stew.” I was shocked! But, I wasn’t appalled. I said, “Okay, that was weird.” Everybody gets weird thoughts but not everybody experiences shame or guilt from those thoughts. Here are five mistakes people with OCD make when they have weird scary bad thoughts:

Mistake #1 Keep It a Secret

freddykIf Freddy Krueger was living in your basement would you keep it a secret? No! You would get someone to help you outwit Freddy Krueger! Would you feel ashamed that Freddy Krueger picked your house to hide out in? No! That wouldn’t even cross your mind. You’ve got this bad dude living in your mind and it’s not your fault! The only time you shouldn’t tell someone (e.g., therapist, parent, best friend, and family member) is if you’re just trying to get reassurance that you’re a good person.

Mistake #2 Getting Reassurance ok

If you have OCD then you know you’re not supposed to seek reassurance. If you have a bad thought, you can’t ask someone to reassure you and say, “It’s just OCD. You are not your thoughts. You’d never do that.” That’s ok if you’re newly diagnosed but if you’ve been dealing with OCD for a while, you need something more than relabeling OCD. Too much relabeling ends up turning into reassurance. And reassurance feeds OCD. It’s like alcohol to an alcoholic—there’s never enough. junkie

But, you can get help to outwit OCD. In fact it’s great to get people to help you to boss it back: “Hey, I’m having a really bad thought about _______. I don’t want you to reassure me but can you remind me of something I have in my toolbox to help me boss it back?”

Mistake #3 Trying to Rationalize Why You’re Thinking What You’re Thinking

If you try to explain, excuse or justify your thoughts you’re spending way too much time on the thought. When I had the thought about chopping Bella up for stew, I didn’t try to figure out why I had that thought or what it meant. I shrugged and said, “Weird” and kept petting her belly. Get to the shrug as fast as possible. Say: “Whatever, So What, Who Cares.” As soon as you analyze the thought or associated feelings you’re inviting OCD to take you deeper into this obsession. OCD robs you of enough. Don’t go down the rabbit hole with OCD. It’s not worth it. If you’ve been down the rabbit hole you know it’s a very long horrible journey.

If you can’t shrug at the thought get help from someone who knows what’s in your “Boss it Back” toolbox. If you don’t have a “Boss it Back” toolbox be sure to read next week’s blog.

Mistake#4 Not Shrugging at the Thoughts

A shrug shows that you are committed to “let go or be dragged.” Shrugging is not avoiding. It’s not suppressing or hiding either. Shrugging is giving your brain a clear message that you don’t care about the thought or worry. Your brain’s alarm system (the amygdala) is misfiring and when you shrug, it stops firing. shrug

It’s not easy to shrug if you’re already caught up in evaluating the thought or feelings. Shrugging is your first line of defense. If it isn’t the anxiety worsens and you’re going to start trying to avoid your triggers.

Mistake#5 Avoiding Triggers

If you don’t face whatever it is that is triggering the bad thoughts then the thoughts will become intense and frequent, and the anxiety will take over. You’ve got to get as close as you can to your triggers. That’s why exposure and response prevention is very effective in treating OCD. The more you face your triggers the more desensitized you become.

Never put your life on hold because of bad thoughts. Keep doing everything you want to do or need to do, even if the thoughts follow you. Better yet, go on the offensive and invite OCD to bother you when you know you are going to be around a trigger.

If you find yourself stressed out about bad thoughts, identify which mistake you’re making and take corrective action. Get someone to help you remember what’s in your Boss it Back Toolbox. toolboxIf you don’t know what’s in your toolbox make sure you read next week’s blog.

If you want to comment or add to this list of mistakes please feel free to do so.

 

5 Ways These Willpower Workouts Will Increase Your Motivation

brainworkoutWant bigger, better biceps? Then just do barbell workouts. You don’t build muscle by talking about it. You go to the gym. That’s exactly what you do to build willpower! You build willpower by taking your brain to the (neuro) gym. Willpower happens in your brain. Just behind your eyebrows and to the left and right—that’s where willpower lives or dies.

There are 3 kinds of WILLPOWER:

  • I WANT power lives behind the gap between the eye brows. It’s where the brain keeps track of your goals. It’s watching and monitoring.
  • I WON’T power lives behind the right eye and controls your attention.
  • I WILL power lives behind the left eye. It gives you the willingness to face anything.

Is it fair to say you can’t build biceps unless you know where they’re located? If you know where your biceps are, you can target them with specific exercises. That’s why it’s important to know where willpower is located in your brain. By knowing where willpower lives you can work on strengthening these parts of the brain, which not only builds willpower, but also helps deactivate the amygdala.

You might recall the amygdala is the troublemaker when it comes to defying OCD. It’s a broken alarm system that sends false alarms. The amygdala is responsible for quick emotions and quick decisions. It’s all about getting immediate gratification. Have you ever been tricked into a compulsion, “Just this one last time…” The amygdala is a trickster. It gets you to make decisions that seem good at the time, but actually lead you away from who you truly want to be. By targeting and strengthening willpower muscles in your brain the amygdala gets deactivated.

Willpower is something you can train for—just like any other muscle of the body. Get started on 5 quick and easy Willpower Workouts:

Workout #1

The first Willpower Workout is to use the pointer and middle finger of your dominant hand and tap (3 or 4 times) the inside of each eyebrow–one eyebrow at a time. State what you want: “This freedom. Even though it’s so hard to just let go, I love and forgive myself.” Then with your right hand repeatedly tap where the right eyebrow ends. State what you won’t do: “This compulsion. Even though it’s so hard to let go I love and forgive myself.” Finally with your left hand tap where the left eyebrow ends. State what you will accept: “This anxiety. Even though it’s so hard to let go I love and accept myself.” This is an authoritative workout because you are acknowledging you know where willpower lives in your body. The second benefit of tapping is that is self-healing. You are practicing self-compassion which shuts down the amygdala.  For a much broader example and explanation of tapping watch this 4 minute video.

Workout #2

The second Willpower Workout is a focus exercise. For 5 minutes pick something to focus on. You need your mind to wander for this to work. You have to find yourself getting sleepy or fidgety or otherwise you won’t be working out.  Notice what your mind is doing and then bring it back to the task at hand. Perhaps you’re coloring, concentrating on your breath, or reading a text book. As long as your mind is likely to wander, it’s the right task!

Workout #3

Eat a Willpower food. This exercise is to keep your blood sugar level so you don’t have highs and lows. Read last week’s blog for more information about how to do this. If you don’t fuel your brain in a steady way, you won’t have willpower because you’ll be constantly crashing and burning. In a nutshell…eat nuts, seeds, blueberries and Greek yogurt, not carbs and sugar.

Workout #4

Exercise daily. Again read last week’s blog for more information about this. But, basically, this is what’s known as the Willpower miracle cure. Out of anything you can do to increase willpower-EXERCISE-is a must. People who change this one thing find instant willpower in other areas of their life. For proof, watch this 3.5 minute video.

Workout #5

This Willpower workout is called Pause and Calculate. Take 10 seconds and calculate the probability of the proposed reward coming to fruition. Recognize when the amygdala is promising you something and see it as a trickster. The amygdala will promise you relief and happiness, but think back to how many times this promise was broken. Pausing will lead you to making the right decision. Letting go of empty promises gives you the willpower to forge ahead and face a fear.

You are just minutes away from building WILLPOWER. More willpower leads to more motivation! Tap where willpower lives in your brain.  Practice focusing. Eat nuts! Exercise. Pause. Try any of these workouts on a consistent basis and let us know how you’re doing with “Bossing it Back.” Post a comment! We’re building a bossy pants community!

Imagine Saying No and Loving Every Minute of It

temper tantrum

If you have OCD then you know how hard it is to say “no” to OCD. When told “no” OCD is just like a two year old; it throws a temper tantrum and screams until it gets its way.  Of course, if you give in to OCD you can expect a temper tantrum when you try to say “no” again. OCD is a strong force to be reckoned with. That’s why it’s good to practice saying “no” to people. If you can’t say “no” to people, how will you say “no” to OCD?

exhausted

People who have a hard time saying “no” to OCD often have a hard time saying “no” to people. Sometimes a person with OCD will forfeit their own mental health in order to support a person in need. They say “yes” to oodles of invitations and projects even when everything is occurring at the same time. Even though they aren’t keeping up with their own responsibilities, they run everybody else’s errands. Instead of going to bed and getting much needed sleep they stay up late listening to a distant friend talk about their troubles. People who can’t say “no” are good people. They are very loving and make the world a better place for everybody else–except themselves.

say no

The more difficulty you have in saying no the more stressed and depleted you’ll feel. Saying “no” to people will make saying “no” to OCD easier. Saying “no” doesn’t have to be hard. Once you master the art of saying “no” you’ll love how much more energy you have to do the things you love to do. You’ll love how much more resourceful you are at bossing OCD back. Read these four tips.

happyfaceThere’s no point in trying to figure out why you have such a hard time saying “no.” In the battle against OCD it’s not good to spend time analyzing. You won’t ever know for certain what definitely makes it hard for you to say “no.” Maybe you like chaos because it gets you “buzzy” and makes you feel alive. It’s possible you can’t say no because you fear rejection, loneliness or don’t want to miss out. Maybe you can’t say “no” because you like the distraction. It’s possible you can’t say “no” because you don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings. Whatever the reason, it’s fear-based. Knowing it’s fear-based you know what you have to do. Action: Feel the fear and say NO anyway. Put your mental health first.

happyfaceBe a big-picture thinker. Weigh the consequences of saying “yes.” You’ll get stressed and depleted. In the battle against OCD you need all of the focus and energy you can muster. Is it worth losing ground against OCD to support another person who could easily get help elsewhere? Maybe you are only enabling someone and keeping them from growing up. It doesn’t have to be you to save the day. Identify your priorities and guard them with your life. It’s better to be there consistently for one or two people than half-there for 10 people. Action: Get your priorities straight and be mindful of them.

happyfaceOffer alternatives. I have to turn people away all the time from my therapy practice because of my schedule. I apologize and say, “I’m sorry I can’t be more helpful but try calling these people to see if they are available.” Keep it simple. Don’t go into long explanations. You’re defeating the purpose of saying “no” when you spend forever explaining yourself. Action: In one sentence say “no” and offer a suggestion.

happyfaceDon’t be so accessible. Get into the habit of delaying the “yes.” Say, “I doubt that I can do it but let me get back to you tomorrow.” By then the person will probably already have another plan in place. Put a greeting on your voice mail that says you only listen to voice mail at 4pm [once a day.] Use an auto responder to reply to text messages or emails that states you are busy and will try to respond within 24 hours. Action: Delay. Don’t respond immediately.

As you get better at saying “no” to people you get better at saying “no” to OCD. It’s nice to be supportive of others but it shouldn’t be at the expense of your own mental health. It can be unsettling to be so quiet and still, but running around like a chicken without a head isn’t healthy either. Life is always going to be about finding balance. Say “no” and love every minute of it because it’s leading you to freedom.

If you know someone who has trouble saying “no” and you think this post would be helpful, please feel free to share by using any of the share buttons. e.g., Facebook or email.

Do You Struggle With Getting Back On Track?

When life gets busy or something unexpected comes up, do you lose momentum and get easily derailed from your healthy habits? Do all your plans for betterment go out the window? I’ve got a winning strategy to share with you about how to get your momentum back every time.

juror (2)

I’ve been on Jury Duty for 10 long grueling days and after 3 days of intense deliberation, we finally reached a verdict. All of the jurors, including myself, talked about how something like this really turns life upside down. But, really, truth be told I let my life be influenced by the circumstances. I had other choices. I chose not to play any racquetball or go to the gym. I chose to eat fattening “comfort” food. For two weeks I didn’t do anything that made me feel vital. (Some would argue I made a difference during jury deliberations, but that’s not the kind of impact that I find satisfying.) I started the New Year with lots of zest and tons of action. But, now…I’ve lost my momentum. The good news is that this has happened to me before. So I know exactly what to do. Plus, I’ve done a lot of research about getting motivated.

Have you ever been derailed and struggled with getting back on track? Do you recall thinking there was no point in getting back on track? Perhaps you thought you should wait until [such and such] event finished. Maybe you put yourself down, “You’re too inconsistent and incapable of everlasting change.” It’s important to be conscious of these kinds of thoughts and feelings. These kind of thoughts limit your beliefs. Look for them!

Once you recognize these limiting beliefs, realize they’re doing nothing but paralyzing you. You don’t need to believe them. These kinds of thoughts have been in your brain since you were 8 or 10 years old! They are just old messages from childhood. Consciously and deliberately take charge of these negative thoughts and feelings that hinder your motivation. It’s not a lack of intention that keeps us from getting back on track. We get stuck because our unconscious thoughts run us into a brick wall.

What is the action you intend or want to take? Is it a healthy habit, resisting a compulsion or facing a fear? Your brain is going to tell you not to bother for numerous reasons. Make sure you are consciously aware of those messages and use the winning strategy below.

Here’s the Winning Strategy to Get Back on Track:

  • Become fully conscious and aware of any limiting beliefs
  • Recognize all your choices besides just doing nothing
  • Release the limiting beliefs and replace them with new positive affirmations
  • Prime your brain for success by visualizing it happening
  • Take a tiny step within minutes or seconds of completing the chart below.

Goal: e.g., I’m going to resist the compulsion of comparing myself to others. Use this format to write down what it looks like to reset and recalibrate your brain:

Limiting Belief Choices + Affirmation Visualize it
I won’t be able to resist because the urge will be too powerful. I’m not that strong.

 

I can give in to the urge to compare and feel miserable with the results or I can resist the urge to compare and feel anxious. Maybe I can do this. I know I can at least try. I’ve resisted other compulsions in the past with success. This seems hard but I can do hard. I like the way it feels to see myself free of this compulsion. I can see how my world would become so much bigger. I see much happiness all around me.

I took my first action to get back on track and wrote this blog. I’m on a roll! It’s good to be back!

Why Accountability is the Best Thing Since Sliced Bread

accountability

One of the most effective ways to gain power over OCD and get super determined to “Boss it Back” is to get an Accountability Partner. Accountability breeds determination!

First figure out who you want to be, and what it is you want to change or achieve. In 2016, I’m going to try out something new. Instead of setting New Year’s resolutions, that I end up drifting from, I’m going to use this blueprint and review it every 90 days with my Accountability Partners:

DESIGN YOUR LIFE BLUEPRINT

  1. The Purpose of my life is…
  2. My outer mission is…
  3. My inner mission is…
  4. The highest values I live and make decisions by are…
  5. My top goals for the next 90 days concerning health, spirituality, relationships, business and adventure….
  6. Books or podcasts I will use to enrich my life…
  7. Morning and evening habits I will stop or start.
  8. Daily routines will include…(e.g., Gratitude exercise, meditation, physical exercise.)

SHARE WITH AN ACCOUNTABILITY PARTNER

Once you have the details of your blueprint it’s important to share it with someone. That person is called an Accountability Partner. When choosing a partner or partners:

  1. Look for someone who will challenge you but not condemn you. Accountability is not forced but chosen.
  2. Pick someone who is emotionally resilient and positive. You want someone who won’t accept excuses, will ask hard questions but won’t belittle or give up on you.
  3. It’s helpful to pick someone who has had some success in the areas you are working on. You want someone who can help problem-solve.
  4. It’s actually a good idea to find more than one partner.
  5. As a team or individually talk at least online weekly and meet every 90 days.
  6. When you talk with your Accountability Partner, BE HONEST!

Cheers to “Bossing it Back” stronger and faster than ever before!

Where to Go to Free Your Mind

It’s not necessary to suffer from OCD. There are places you can go to free your mind! It’s possible to find a place where you can focus on what truly matters. Places I’m going to share a couple of places that surprised me during this busy shopping season.

 

A few days ago I visited the Apple store at Crossgates Mall. A young woman, Sarah, was assigned to me and we had a brief conversation about how she used her MacBook in Paris and why the Apple store had been moved to such a small tiny little room in the mall. Truthfully, my mind was not focused on Sarah or the MacBook. I was telling myself to keep my hands in my pockets because people were sneezing everywhere and the tiny little store smelled like germs.  (This is what I get for hanging around so many people with OCD!)

Sarah went on to the next customer while I cautiously lingered a bit longer. I was eavesdropping on what other people were asking and learning. But, believe me, I was on the lookout for people who seemed sickly. Then a young man named Benny approached me. He said, “I’m so excited to show you something!” “Me?” I asked. “Yes, look at what you can do with this MacBook!”

I was there for another hour and I never even heard another cough or sneeze again. My mind was set free by talking with Benny. And, it’s not because of what he was teaching me about the MacBook. Benny is the happiest person I’ve ever met.  No circumstance or worry got in his way. Even when his supervisor came over and said, “Benny’s new so I’m just observing him,” Benny did not stop smiling. And I just kept smiling back. Talking to him made me want to be happy, not worried. I’d rather be happy and sick than healthy but worried all the time.

Hopefully you can visit Benny, but maybe he’s not accessible from where you live. No problem! There are happy people all around the world. I tested this out. I went to Barnes & Noble and asked to speak to the happiest person working. I was introduced to a young gal not cheerful like Benny, but very warm and tranquil. Happy people are in many places and I hope when you find one, you decide to smile back and free your mind!

You’re off to great places…so get on your way. Oh the places you’ll go.