This is Nathan Peterson, licensed clinician and OCD specialist. This one compulsion is so very common and most don't even know they're doing it. I often talk about sneaky compulsions. These compulsions come in so many different forms. If you don't know what a compulsion is, it is the thought, behavior, or action that someone might take in order to attempt to gain certainty with their fear and/or reduce anxiety.
Here's the compulsion. Telling your OCD story. No don't get me wrong, there are times in your life where you need to tell your experiences. Go through the thoughts and feelings. But many tell their story daily. Whether it be on forums, groups, or to their loved ones. It seems so innocent to do so but let me share with you the dangers of taking this path. What ends up happening is that the individual that suffers with OCD shares the story time and time and time again. And when I mean story I mean they are sharing an experience they had in the day. They are sharing an intrusive thought that came their way. They are sharing a feeling that they have. Essentially, they are confessing their thoughts.
They are not necessarily looking for reassurance. Instead they are just simply sharing what they're going through. Here's the tricky part, for most, not all... They are receiving reassurance. Maybe they don't even though they are doing so. They are receiving reassurance because they just shared their experience to someone and that person did not freak out. That person may have given them reassurance. They may have looked at their facial expression to see if they think I'm crazy or do they not. Do you think I'm OK or do they not. The sense of being a roundabout way of receiving reassurance. I mean heck, we're taught our whole life to share experiences. But when it comes to intrusive thoughts and obsessions, we were verification and certainty. We want support.
See what happens if you don't. If you feel that overwhelming need to share, maybe you feel like you won't get better until you do, it may be a compulsion. Maybe delay it. You're not waiting for your spouse to get home to tell them what you've gone through. You wait two or three hours after they've already been home. See if you can wait. If your loved one or support person has asked you to share what you've gone through. You may still have to evaluate and ask yourself, why am I sharing this intrusive thought today. Is it to gain support what is the gain Comfort and reassurance.
There are obviously instances where sharing your experiences and story are important. To someone like a therapist. Some may set up checkpoints. Meaning they have set a certain time every other day or every week whatever is reasonable to share and experience at a certain time. But again it's looking at if this is going to help or hurt your OCD. I would love it if people changed talking about their OCD experience that day to here is how I used treatment with my OCD experience.
I had this intrusive thought today while I was driving. Guess what I did, I kept driving, I didn't look in my rear view mirror, I didn't go back and check. I kept driving. What does does is promote treatment more than give the story more power and value.
Think about this the next time you want to share about your intrusive thoughts or OCD story. If you've been watching my other videos, we've learned that OCD is OCD and we give the thoughts no value or power. So, to help with this process, not going through it and "figuring it out" shows that it's all fluff. It doesn't mean that you don't matter, it may just mean that those thoughts are error messages that don't need to pay attention to.
To help you build a stronger muscle to stop these compulsions, go watch this video, where I talk about simple tricks to stop compulsions all together.
Thanks so much for watching and I'll see you next time.
Treatment for OCD compulsions
Why OCD feels so real
I'm Nathan Peterson, a licensed clinician and OCD specialist. Have you ever wondered why your OCD feels so incredibly real? For many, they know that the thought isn't real, but it feels real. So when something feels real, we react as if it's real....right?
Think about it this way. When we watch a movie we can become immersed and get absorbed. We get hyper focused, get lost and even confused. We can lose touch of reality for a bit. For some they may watch the same movie and not be connected or immersed at all.
So what's the difference? One person is allowing and inviting themself to get lost in the story and the other person see it for what it is and keeps it at the surface. Both have control over this decision.
So when it comes to OCD and an intrusive thought, one main point to bring it even more value is the anxiety or distress attached. This anxiety says.....HEY, this is important. Keep thinking about this one. As you get engrossed into the narrative or story, we tend to feel more emotions and feelings. Making it feel...well...real.
When something feels real, we spend time trying to "figure it all out" and prevent a possible catastrophe. Thus adding even more value to it.
So when I hear someone tell me that their OCD thoughts feel so real, it typically isn't the first time they've had that thought. They've had this thought many times and in each moment taken the time to try to understand it. Thus making it feel more real overtime.
We also know that OCD attacks what people care about. We have many doubts and questions in our mind everyday. But most of the time they won't feel real because we don't care about it. For instance, I may be watching tv and hear about how easy it is to get fungus under our toenails. Why do I not care about this....because it's not my thing. It's a threat like any other. My brain only cares about whatever I made a connection with and put value to. Maybe it's my relationship, maybe it's a certain disease, maybe I'm focusing on my breathing. Either way and either topic. It's all the same.
One only feels real because we make it feel real. To stop this progression of realness, we can see or hear a threat and choose to not put value to it. Choose to see information as information. Choose to keep things uncertain. Choose to stop ruminating. Choose not engage in a compulsion. The urge may be there, but you always have the choice.
When you take this proactive choice to not engage, it no longer feels real. Why? Because you are telling your brain that you simply don't care. You're letting life be what it is. And don't fall for the, "but I'm different" - That's just another trick that feel's real.
You're a special person, but your topic or content of the obsession is not. So ultimately, let it feel real. Just choose to not engage. Not figure out. It's got to be pretty obvious that there is a problem. 1000% hit you in the face obvious. If that is not there, we may treat this "real feeling" as a false signal.
Have you ever had a memory of the past, maybe a story that you've told over and over and over again throughout your life. Sometimes there is a point where you're actually not sure if it happened the way you've been telling it. Maybe it started out as an embellishment, but overtime it actually feels real with some confusion. I think of this the same way, we've told the story so many times, just like the OCD brain tells the content of the story and all of a sudden, we're confused on what is accurate and what is not.
In simple terms: Stop telling the story! Stop creating a narrative. Stop with the "what ifs" - You don't need the story. Yourself without OCD doesn't need the story. Let it go. Sit with the discomfort and the "realness" feelings. Let it pass. The more you do this, the less scary and real it may feel.
The way we think is the way we feel. If I felt someone is judging me, I'll feel anxious, scared, and sad. Even if this is untrue. I made up a story and fell for its tricks. Don't fall for it.
Since OCD affects our mood, see how you can control these mood swings with this video here!
Thanks so much for watching and I'll see you next time.
OCD feels real
OCD seems real
Nathan Peterson specializes in working with OCD and Anxiety related disorders and has done so for the past 7+ years.