I talk about exposure and response prevention quite often as the best, in my opinion, treatment for OCD and anxiety. I mean you are actually facing your fears. Retraining your brain. You are essentially becoming a researcher. You are doing experiments. You are testing theories.
You are willing to take the risk that the fear that you currently have may be a false signal.
I’m going to go through how you can do these experiments better when it comes to your treatment.
So how to do better exposures for experiments. One of the first things is to be aware of what the perceived threats are the come to your mind. Something like, if I don’t check the door one more time someone can break in. If I don’t pray, God will smite me. If I don’t put those knifes away I might react and do something. If I get close to that person, what if I like it or them. If I look at somebody else, maybe I don’t really love my partner. If I touch this item, I will get sick.
This is how you are keeping track of your fears. What does it mean if you don’t follow through with your compulsion? What does it mean because you have a certain intrusive thought?
This shows exactly how we can do experiments. Your brain already came up with the threat if you don’t follow through with the compulsion. Now it’s your time to test the theory out. Each one is going to feel very real. It’s going to feel very important. It’s even going to feel risky.
But just like any experiment, we do not know the outcome until we tested. So what I would do is take one of my fears, and I would test the theory out. My brain says if I don’t check the stove, I will start my house on fire. So guess what I’m going to do, not check the stove. I’m also going to pay attention to all the compulsions that my body wants to do. Maybe it wants to listen for a fire, maybe in researching online the chances of the fire happening.
I cannot do an experiment, and then mess with the data in between. Instead I’m practicing staying uncertain. Choosing to see what the outcome is going to be. I’m living my life, if there is a problem I will solve it. If there’s not there’s nothing to solve.
While I am sitting with this uncertainty, I might be practicing statements tell me through. The house may or may not set on fire. Yep, might be my fault.
Here’s the cool part, after a few hours, maybe the next day. Your brain looks that moment and says, hey, I told you that you were in danger. The house is supposed be on fire, it’s not, maybe throughout all false signal your way.
You did this experiment to see what was going to happen. You tested the theory out. Your brain needs to know that you are testing these fears out, over and over and over and over and over and over and over again. It will finally get it.
The thing is though, we can never be hundred percent certain that our fear won’t come true. But we are willing to take that risk, it might be the only way to retrain the brain and for you to enjoy life more freely.
I know what you might be thinking, yeah I can test the theory out for something like your example. But mine is different. Mine is more dangerous. Might involves my child, mine involves my salvation, mine involves death. That’s one of the biggest pieces to get past, you are not special in that your OCD or anxiety is different. It’s all false signals. The only way for you to retrain the brain is to do these experiments. Do these experiments with meaning. It’s not, I’m going to avoid checking, and that I’m going to rock back and forth staring at a wall for the next five hours. It’s continuing to live life despite of this uncertainty that you’re living in. And anytime a threat comes up, but is a house going to start on fire? Your answer is, yeah man, maybe maybe not. I guess we’ll see after the experiment.
My question to you is this….Has your fear EVER come true? Really think about it, the thing your brain threatens to you day after day.
Thank you so much for watching and I will see you next time.
How to help ocd
How to stop OCD
Thought stopping doesn't work
One of the most common questions I get asked is….How do I STOP thinking about my fear? How do I stop obsessing? How do I STOP the anxiety.
If you’re like most, you’re searching videos to learn how to STOP your symptoms. There in lies the TRAP. We don’t learn to STOP thoughts or fears…we learn to respond differently to them….which in turn allows symptoms to decrease.
If you start off you search or mindset with….how can I stop……Don’t do it! It’s a trap!
Seriously. You’re just training your body to continually check To see if you are still having thoughts or not. Which actually produces more thoughts. It is actually natural for the brain to automatically start pushing thought we don’t want. Which is why it takes practice to lave them back.
Let me take you through what to do instead of pushing thoughts away or ignoring them.
So how to avoid suppression? To get out of the thinking that you need to STOP thinking about your fears. Well, you can start by learning to notice when these thoughts occur. Allow thoughts to be thoughts. Not put any meaning to a single thought. A thought is bad or a thought is good. When a thought brings anxiety or distress, we tend to label it as bad. When our brain hears bad, it goes to this automatic process of pushing. Practice having a thought than simply saying, “oh cool, there is the thought again. You’re welcome to stay as long as you want”
As your learning to accept a thought is a thought you’re also practicing not doing a compulsion. A compulsion is anything you are actively choosing to do to remove the thought, or to reduce your anxiety symptoms. For instance, if you have a distressing thought you quickly shake your head to get it to go away. Maybe you tap something a few times. It’s possible you go to the Internet to research different ideas about your thought. You might have to say a phrase for the thought to go away. These are all the things you have to be aware of and stop doing.
Because we cannot accept a thought, take value away from it, and also do a compulsion of the same time. It’s like we’re not fully accepting the reality of the thought. It’s a halfway effort.
Once you learn to accept our thoughts, even if you think it is the worst thing in the world to think. OCD can bring some pretty gnarly thoughts. It’s easy for somebody to say, yeah I can accept a thought about something small but this doesn’t apply to my big scary thoughts. Going back to what was said earlier, thoughts are thoughts. There is not one thought that has more value or power than another.
Some choose to use act therapy. Acceptance and commitment therapy. This builds flexibility in your thinking and allows you to accept the thought. Without changing it whatsoever. At the same time some choose to expose themselves to the triggers or obsessions. This is so you can continually learn. Learn to not respond the way you normally would want to with a thought.
For instance, I might pay attention and write down all the triggers I noticed that bring these thoughts. I might purposely expose myself to them. Not all at once, but starting off with something small. Maybe it’s looking at a picture of something, maybe it’s a video, maybe it’s hanging out with my kid, maybe is driving, maybe it’s cooking dinner, maybe it’s saying a certain word, maybe it’s touching something. Regardless of what it is, you are practicing engaging with this thing, not doing the compulsions, and pretty much acting like you don’t care. Allow the thoughts to come, allow them to leave.
You don’t care how long they stay. They have no value unless you give it value. This takes practice, practice, practice. It is easy for anxiety or OCD to say, this one is important. This one is different. The tools that were just presented to me, do not apply to me.
Let me tell you, your OCD or anxiety is no different than someone else. The next time you think, “I need to get rid of these thoughts. I need to get them to stop.” Remember that we are actually doing the opposite. You can even say, “oh boy, I love these thoughts.” “yes, thanks for coming my way.” “these are amazing!” “I wish you would stay forever.”
These types of responses, help the brain know that you simply don’t care.
Let me know in the comments, what response can you give your OCD and anxiety today when you have distressing thoughts?
Thank you so much for watching, and I will see you next time.
Thought suppression and OCD
OCD thoughts won't stop
COVID and OCD
COVID-19 and OCD. Wow. Can you believe it’s been a little over a year since the pandemic started? I’ve debated making this video multiple times and with multiple requests and emails I finally decided to take the plunge. I wanted to say with the disclaimer that I am not a medical doctor and I’m not giving you medical advice. I will however give you my thoughts on how somebody who struggles with OCD can do when it comes to the fears of possibly getting the virus. Not only the virus but any sickness.
Hi, my name is Nathan Peterson! I am a specialist with OCD and anxiety related disorders and the creator of the self-directed courses for OCD and BFRBs. I create videos every single week with tips and treatment strategies for OCD, anxiety, tics and Tourette’s, hair pulling and skin picking. Make sure you’re subscribed so you do not miss any of these.
You probably know what COVID-19 is. If you missed it, knock knock knock hello is anyone there. This virus in pandemic has sure set panic throughout the world. And rightfully so. When this thing first started, I made an ignorant comment. I said this is no different than getting the flu, or putting so much value and power on this thing. Boy was I wrong. With the countless lives lost, jobs lost, and mental health issues on the rise, I could never imagine what was going to happen.
Many people have asked me. Nate and I say uhuh, and they say so I’ve been doing treatment for my OCD, how does it now change because of the pandemic. This has been so difficult to figure out a great guideline. Because just like any other anxiety fear in our life, it is very uncertain. There isn’t going to be an answer that is given that is 100% sure.
When it comes to contamination OCD and the fear of possibly getting sick. Individuals felt the need to wash more, avoid more things, Thus sending them through massive spirals where they didn’t know they were following guidelines for fear creating their own rules.
Here is how I have been treating OCD in the midst of this pandemic. I have people create a guideline. How many times a day I want to wash my hands. Is it before I eat, after use the bathroom, or if I come in from outside. Maybe it’s if I physically see dirt on my hand. So typically maybe is five times or less a day.
I then say, we will follow the guidelines of the CDC. Even if we think they are incorrect or wrong. We have to follow some type of guideline or else the rules that your OCD will create could be catastrophic. For instance the CDC said, if you are vaccinated you no longer need to wear a mask. So guess over going to do, no longer wear a mask. But this doesn’t mean I’m no longer wearing a mask but I’m just gonna stay inside. We are following all the guidelines. They say I can go to a restaurant, I’m going to restaurant. They say I can hang out with my other friends vaccinated, I’m hanging out with my friends.
Here's the tricky part however, what about the things are not part of the CDC guideline. They can’t give every scenario possible that you are ever going to run into. This is where you take your best judgment. Meaning, the CDC didn’t mention if I go to my friend’s birthday party and is probably going to be 30 people there. What should I do? I say you do whatever you want to do. Sounds risky, but you do it following the CDC guidelines. They say wear a mask there’s over 20 people, I guess I’m wearing a mask.
I also wouldn’t want individuals to solely focus on this the rest of their life. I want individuals to live their life, sometimes feel like they are risking a lot. But knowing that the base of what I said was I want to wash my hands five times or less a day. How my going to do this.
Typically we use exposure and response prevention. We expose ourselves to things that make us scared or nervous and respond completely different to them. A lot of people hear this and I think that sounds pretty dumb. You want me to just go out and get myself contaminated and dirty and hug everyone I see. This is not an all or nothing approach. This means that I just went to the grocery store I got a lot of groceries other people probably touched, I’m putting them away in my pantry without washing them because the CDC did tell me I needed to. I did say however that if I come in from outside I can wash my hands.
But did the CDC say I need to wash my hands with 5 to 10 pounds of soap? NOPE! Did the CDC say that the water must be scalding hot? NOPE!
You may need to create your own guideline and foundation. I wash my hands for 30 seconds, one pump of soap, and the water may be hot or not.
Overall I want somebody’s experience to be a thoughtful one. Not in anxiety one. Meaning my decisions are based off of just general thought not my decisions are based off of my anxiety. And if anxiety is there I might risk the rules that have created in my brain and learn to respond completely different to them. A lot of times the magic words to the things we don’t know or maybe maybe not. Meaning I’m choosing to only solve the problem when there’s a problem presented in front of me. This is so incredibly hard to do. Because people have gone sick, people have died.
But we are living our life, OCD does not get to dictate what you do anymore. Because there is new value that is been placed in front of us doesn’t mean OCD treatment goes out the window.
A task that some choose to do is to write down all the rules are brain has created because of this pandemic. See if they match up with the CDC and the ones I don’t they may choose to do treatment with these. They feel like they’re doing a lot of risk. But without the risk there tends to not be the reward. The sound so incredibly scary, but what I’ve seen time and time again that the brains really good at saying once I get vaccinated then I will feel anxious about it. Once this one thing happens I will be nervous anymore. Guess what happens, a person gets vaccinated and there still anxious. The brain thinks it’s problem-solving but is continuing to keep you trapped. It’s only going to know that you’re the boss if you treated that way. Sometimes going against the rules that you’ve created in your brain.
I am in no way diminishing the effect that this virus is had on the world. I am diminishing the way OCD is making you think about the virus. Taking power and value away from OCD. It no longer deserves your attention.
If you’re looking for a little extra help, I’ve created a very specific course for OCD that takes you through understanding yourself, the treatment, and building your foundation for success. I will link this down in the description below.
Here’s my question for you. What rules are you following or are taking over your life because of this pandemic? Also, what you can start doing differently about your behaviors?
COVID and Anxiety
Spreading COVID and OCD
Exposure Therapy For OCD
When somebody is facing their fear, they repeat this process over and over again their body tends used to it. We’ve seen this in many different ways such as jumping into a really cool swimming pool. At the very beginning it is very cold but their body adapts and get used to it. We didn’t have to spend time convincing ourselves it was going to get better, it just happens. This can be seen when we are using exposure and response prevention. When you are exposing yourself to the upsetting fear it’s going to feel very difficult at the beginning. Overtime, you may face the same fear but notice that the anxiety level is a lot less. This is seen as the habituation model. That we essxentially are doing exposures to reduce your anxiety by half or more. You’re getting used to it, you’ve taken the value away from it. When it comes to the habituation model, it’s all about this anxiety reduction in your body adapting just like the swimming pool. We will often use us as a measure of success if you were doing exposures correctly. If you’re anxiety is reducing this is a good thing.
There are definitely some drawbacks from using the habituation model. Anxiety is something that we want to take value away from as well. If we are focusing solely on anxiety and having us go up and down individuals can get stuck in paying attention to the anxiety and wondering if they are doing the exposure correctly or not. Let me start obsessing about the actual anxiety versus the actual fear. Many will start to question and wonder why they’re in anxiety is not reducing. Well evidence shows that the habituation model does work, individuals can you get stuck with these pitfalls often.
This is why there is another approach to exposure and response prevention called inhibitory learning. While this is still being researched there is evidence that shows that this helps reduce OCD symptoms as well. The difference is not the actual exposure you were doing but rather the way you were approaching it. With the inhibitory learning model you are teaching your brain more than reducing anxiety. Exposures are all about what can your brain learned from this experience. It doesn’t matter if your anxiety reduces or not. It might not even matter if you have anxiety while you’re doing the exposure. The whole mindset is all about your brain learning something new. So if I was facing a fear that really caused some anxiety, the way I approach is designed is to face the fear, expose yourself to it and RESPOND differently to the fear. You sole focus is what am I teaching my brain by every movement, words I’m saying, what I’m thinking, how I’m behaving.
If I avoid touching something because it’s contaminated, my brain learned that that thing is dangerous. If I touched it and acted like it wasn’t a big deal and didn’t do any compulsions, then my brain learns it’s not a big deal. You may learn time and time again that you faced your fear and NOTHING happened. That is what the brain is learning.
If you’re confused by the two, here is an easy way to remember:
The habitual model means your body is getting used to it and your anxiety is reducing.
Inhibitory learning model means your mindset is all about what your brain is learning from the exposure regardless of the anxiety felt.
Realistically, there isn’t the right choice comes to do an exposures. You do what you feel like is best for you. I have used both models together where I focus majority of my time making sure that the person knows that the brain is learning something. We use anxiety as a measure but ultimately it doesn’t matter if the anxiety reduces or not.
If your brain can learn that the fear that you have is not happening and it is it because you’re trying to control the situation what is the compulsions and to me that’s one of the best ways to do an exposure. Let things be. Stop controlling. It feels like an experiment, but the experiment is worth taking for your brain to learn something major. That you’ve never been a danger.
Inhibitory Learning For OCD
Habituation For OCD
My OCD Feels Unique
You are not special! WAIT! Don’t don’t run away! I needed to get your attention for a moment. If you leave now you think I’m just a big jerk. Here’s what I mean by this!
So here is what I mean by you not been special. First of all your special. You matter in your feelings matter. Because you’re even watching this video right now it shows a lot of strength.
So what I’m really meaning is that the OCD that you are experiencing is not different. Individuals can often think that the topic or theme that they are going through this special, it’s different, no one understands exactly what they are going through, its untreatable, I hear all these videos online I see all this advice but it doesn’t apply to my theme.
Errrrrr! Nope! Your OCD is not special or different. This to me is one of OCD’s biggest lies. If it can make you believe that you are untreatable and that you are different from what you are experiencing then it’s got you. Individuals will often tell me that exposures they hear the specific theme just don’t apply to them. That if people really knew all the details of everything there experiencing they would change the treatment.
So this is something that is important to note, something to tell your OCD even if you think it is different than everyone else’s to remind yourself that OCD is OCD. That follows the same route as everybody else. It’s making you doubt in question yourself and who you are as a person. It’s making you question the threats in the future and if they can come true or not. It’s giving you an intrusive thought putting a lot of meeting on this thought making you feel anxious that’s wanting you to do something to fix it.
Simple as that. When we see OCD simply becomes simple. If you see OCD is complicated, different, or special, than it has the upper hand. To take control is to see it simply. Do not see yourself as different or special. Like I said you as a person are unique and special. Your OCD does not get to join this party.
So as you’re seeing the videos that I have, your hearing advice given, and you think it doesn’t apply to your theme. Remember that this is a lie. Give yourself more credit. You can even remind your OCD that it’s not special when it’s trying to take the light. Give yourself the opportunity to do treatment. I know what people say, “but if you only heard what I’m going through you’d be shocked. You would say that mine is different.” Don’t even allow your brain to go there. Instead he focus on living life and enjoying.
This tactic the OCDs using is no longer going to be something you fall for. Treatment is available if you’re looking for a specialist.
So here’s my question for you, have you ever felt that your OCD is different than everyone else’s?
How To Stop Ruminating
mination is essentially trying to problem solve the perceived threat or fear. It’s not as easy to just say, “stop ruminating”, so here are some tips for you when you feel like you’re stuck in the OCD rumination.
How To Be Successful With OCD Treatment
If you're working through exposure and response prevention; these 25 tips are GOLDEN. Originally presented by Fred Penzel, Ph.D. of Western Suffolk Psychological Services. Dr. Penzel gave me special permission to present his 25 tips to you.
🖐🖐Check out my ONLINE self-directed program for OCD🖐🖐
👉👉 https://www.OCDandAnxietyOnline.com 👈👈
25 Tips for Succeeding in Your OCD Treatment
How to maintain progress OCD
How To Stop A Panic Attack
Do you know what to do during a panic attack? Did you know there is treatment? It might look different than you’ve expected. Panic attacks can happen at any time and can often be mingled with stress, anxiety, or OCD. Let’s go through Panic Attacks, why you have them, and what to do with them.
What to do during a panic attack
Treatment for panic attacks
Groinal Response With OCD
The groinal response can seem tricky to navigate through. I mean, people want to put meaning and power on what's happening "DOWN THERE". In response to sexual intrusive thoughts, it is natural to want to know what is happening. With movements, tingling, blood flow, and all of that, how can this be ignored? Let's go through what the groinal response looks like and how to do treatment for it.
🖐🖐Check out my ONLINE self-directed program for OCD🖐🖐
👉👉 https://www.OCDandAnxietyOnline.com 👈👈
Arousal with OCD
Fear of being aroused
OCD Is A Baby
I often think of OCD being a spoiled child. It's relentless; it doesn't seem to want to give up. I want to teach you some tricks to get your OCD to calm down and be less intrusive. It's a simple concept but tough to implement time after time.
👉How your OCD is a winey baby
👉Why OCD is relentless
👉How “No Thanks” can be effective.
👉The power of using ‘maybe, maybe not” with your OCD.
👉How to teach your OCD that you’re not giving in.
👉How to take power away from your OCD.
👉Respond to your OCD the same way.
DISCLOSURE: Although I am a licensed therapist. This video is not intended to replace medical advice. This is for information purposes only and should not be used to replace the guidance of a local mental health professional.⠀
OCD is a spoiled child
How to respond to your OCD
Nathan Peterson specializes in working with OCD and Anxiety related disorders and has done so for the past 7+ years.