OCD mood swings are a thing. You may have depression, anger, guilt, shame, stress, worry, low self-worth, get easily overwhelmed, and may even cry for long periods of time. But I wonder.....if you didn't struggle with OCD, would you experience all these other emotions?
By the end of this video, you're going to learn why your OCD may a possible cause to some of your other moods and feelings AND what we're going to do about it.
OCD can big whirlwind of distress and doubt. What happens when you're distressed and cannot find a good solution to relieve it. You get angry. Frustrated. Annoyed. You may even lash out at someone else. When there isn't a good answer to your OCD worries, sadness comes about, some may isolate. When we feel overwhelmed, we cry. The body just cannot handle the situation anymore.
There is often a drastic fluctuation in mood with someone who experiences OCD. We tend to think it's just anxiety. But when these unwanted thoughts, images, impulses and triggers happen, where are we to turn? Our body has to compensate somewhere. If I have a thought that God is not real, I may have intense guilt. If I have intrusive thoughts that go against my value system, I may experience disgust and shame.
It seems like a lot of these filter down to depression. The ultimate emotion that says, you're stuck, you're not moving forward, there is no hope for you. What's the point?
It's easy in these modes to start blaming others for triggering the OCD or not helping you engage in a compulsion. Rage and anger join the party. Ultimately, the person just wants relief.
So to me, OCD tends to be the base and intensifier to so many other emotions. Causing them to skyrocket at times and causing someone to feel very low. Even feel like they are going crazy.
So here is what we're going to do about these OCD mood swings.
So here is one method many choose to do is externalize their OCD. Some have given their OCD a name. Sup Jimmy. Oh Karen, there you are.
Externalizing the OCD separates yourself from it. So the intrusive thought you're having is no longer YOU. We're not using this as reassurance to convince yourself that it's not you. We're simply giving you a new mindset to say, "my OCD is telling me this intrusive thought" "my OCD is telling me I am a bad person." "My OCD is throwing some interesting thoughts my way"
We're less likely to feel an emotion attached when we simply acknowledge a thought and move forward. We do not however use phrases like, "this is just my OCD" as a way to convince you. We still sit with the distress and uncomfortableness of it all. Staying uncertain. Choosing to not figure it out or do any compulsion.
These OCD mood swings are arriving because you are internalizing an intrusive thought with a lot of meaning and putting value on it. So if I had a blastomphous thought and internalized it and went through the loops of trying to figure out if it was me or why I would even think that...I'm going to start feeling lots of different emotions. Shame and guilt. If I took this same thought and say, "oh hey there OCD thought" - it no longer puts it all on me. Instead, the disorder.
We can reduce the different emotions by doing treatment. Exposure and Response Prevention; (if you didn't already know that) *wink
To even better have more control over your emotions, watch the 25 tips for succeeding in your OCD treatment here.
What emotions does your OCD make you feel? Thanks so much for watching and I'll see you next time.
OCD and Depression
OCD tips for anxiety
Am I gay or in denial?
So I have a few videos on sexual orientation ocd or HOCD and inevitably, someone will comment. "how do I know I'm not just using OCD as an excuse to hide that I am gay." Man, I don't blame you, I'd want to know this answer myself. Well in this video, my attempt is to answer this question WITHOUT providing reassurance; which we all know is a compulsion that keeps OCD at bay.
First address the random comments from strangers: "you all just need to accept that you're gay and stop hiding it." or "sexual orientation OCD doesn't exist." As you can tell these types of comments from strangers can be damaging and cause even more anxiety. So let's set the record strait. "get it.....strait."
Sexual orientation OCD is a subset of OCD. As we know, it attacks what we value and care about. It will make someone question everything about themselves. It can be their sexual orientation, make someone question if they are gay. If they are strait. If they are transgender. It makes you question if you even have OCD. Which brings us here, in this moment.
Am I already diagnosed with OCD? Have I had other OCD themes in the past? If so, there is a good chance OCD has moved to this new theme. Do I feel anxiety and a strong urge to know right now? and I mean it....like right now! I won't be satisfied until I know this answer....right now! If that's the case, it's likely to be OCD-related.
Someone who is figuring out their orientation thinks about it in an inquisitive way. Not with extreme anxiety that just won't pass. To me, this is a big indication. Denial means I am choosing to push something away and not think about it. There is the key....not think about it. Someone who is denying something has this ability. Someone with OCD may not. Their brain is forcing a thought. A thought they don't want. A thought that goes against their values and their morals. It is ego-dystonic. It doesn't belong.
But as we get so caught up in the context of am I gay or am I not; this often can be the trap. You may be watching this video right now and saying...okay Nate says, people have anxiety and can't let it go if they have OCD. Does that sound like me? I'm not sure if that sounds like me. Maybe I really am in denial. I better keep searching. So while OCD seeks this truth, it's really a lie. That's why we gain the upper hand by telling it that you're actually okay not finding the answer. It may seem so out of control that someone can accept that they will not get this answer; but just like any other theme of OCD, this is the way. This is the treatment.
Using phrases like, "maybe, maybe not" give our brain this answer that's like...okay man....I'm accepting that I don't know and I'll learn to be okay as long as I don't continue to do compulsions. So ultimately, you may be thinking. Nate, you didn't really answer my question. I still want to know if I'm gay or not. Or if I'm strait or if I'm transgender.
Here is the real answer....the way to know is to not know. Sounds nutzo, but it's so true. To commit to not figuring this out is the key. To live your life the way YOU want to live your life. To not stop yourself from moving forward. To not engage with the thought of, "am I gay or not."
To commit and I really mean commit, 100% that I am not going to figure this out anymore. I'm going to stop researching, asking on forums, engaging with my rumination or asking for reassurance.
What ends up happening is one of two things. The theme moves to something else, all of a sudden I'm worried about car emissions and if they are hurting my lungs; or your brain simply doesn't care to find the answer and stops bothering you about it. Think about this, the only reason words have meaning is because we put meaning to it. When you've stripped it all way. It's got nothing left. Your job is to live your life. Move forward, Feel the anxiety and make it your buddy. Commit to not know. To gain even a better understanding of treatment, make sure you watch this video, where I go through the treatment for sexual orientation OCD
How do I know if I'm gay
I'm scared that I'm gay
How long does OCD recovery take?
Isn't this the question we have with anything we want to go away in our life? How long will I have this? This question can cause a lot of anxiety to think about and bring a lot of comfort. It all depends on what mindset you have.
To jump right into it, recovering from OCD depends on many factors. Do I have the right tools and am using the right treatment? Am I actually using the treatment often? Do I have a strong foundation for therapy?
For many, treatment can be relatively quick. Individuals can feel better sooner, while others it may take longer. It also depends on the severity of symptoms. It's already infiltrated itself into your day, we might as well do something with it.
I almost hesitate to give a specific number because I do not want you to be your timeline because your timeline is YOURS. Here is what I've heard many specialists suggest their own research. Many can expect to feel recovered between 12-20 therapy sessions and can see a clinically significant decrease in OCD symptoms. Others give a timeline of 2 months. Personally in my own practice, I've seen individuals for a few weeks and others a couple of years. There is not that magical formula that fits each person, but I'll share with you what I see as a standard for individuals getting better quicker.
-Using exposure and response prevention the correct way.
-Building an exposure hierarchy to help you face your fears in a gradual way
-Doing these exposures daily and when I mean daily I don't mean 1x a day. I mean, making it your part-time job. It could be hours.
-Simply put. You've got to stop doing compulsions. Even if you're feeling anxiety.
-Your focus must be on recovery. It needs to take priority.
-You must accept the anxiety, fears, doubt, and guilt and decide they bring no more value into your life. You can't be wishy-washy. "I'll accept this fear, but have to figure out this one."
All these things are taught in my online OCD course. I'll link it here. You can even try it for free.
Ultimately, who's going to get better quicker. The person who knows the tools and will do them every once in a while or the person who's dedicated themselves to recovery. They recognize the pitfalls, where they can improve and use resources around them.
I do want you to know that you can recover from OCD. Things can get better. I also want you to have realistic expectations of what "recovery" means. For some, it may mean they are feeling minimal symptoms. For others, they've reduced symptoms up to 60% and are okay with that. Others may not feel symptoms for weeks, months, years. But here's the deal, this doesn't happen by doing treatment for a few months and then be golden for years to come. It's something you work on to maintain the progress that you've made. So when you hear others say online, "I am recovered" keep this in mind.
Here is the most important thing. Your recovery is your own. Your timeline is your own. If you do get caught up in, "how long will this take" you may give yourself an answer like, "it takes as long as it takes and I've accepted this."
I want you to get on top of this, you need to go right now watch the 25 tips for succeeding in your own OCD here.
Thanks so much for watching and I'll see you next time.
How to recover from OCD
Recovery from OCD
How to delay compulsions
I'm just going to get right to it! Just stop doing the compulsions. Easiest video ever... peace. Just kidding, don't leave yet. If you don't know by now, stopping those pesky compulsions can be extremely difficult. It's those things that you brain says you have to do to feel better or reduce a "threat" that often isn't ever a threat.
Instead of the all-or-nothing approach of either do the compulsion or don't, I'm going to teach you a way to ease yourself into this uncomfortableness. "but why would I want to feel comfortable." I hear you! It's so you can get your life back. Okay, no more fluff. Here is what I want you to know. Postpone or delay your compulsion. This compulsion could be a ritual of some kind. It could be washing hands, asking for reassurance, researching online, skin picking, or plain old rumination. The attempt to problem solve.
It may not be as simple as postponing the compulsion so here's what you can do. Pull out a piece of paper and write down all of your compulsions. Maybe you rank them from 0-10 --- 0 being easy to resist and 10 being out of this world hard to resist. You may want to start with the easier ones first. Create a goal for yourself. I'll use hand washing as an example. If I feel the need to wash my hands every time I touch my phone, I am going to see if I can delay this. Don't sell yourself short, but be realistic. Can you do it for 10 seconds? I bet you could. Could you do it for 20 seconds, 30, or 40? How about even a few minutes? What about a few hours?
What's going to happen is that it's possible you'll forget to do the compulsion. That's right! That strong urge you were feeling was so overwhelming, but when you've waited long enough, that feeling reduced, allowing you to have a better chance at making a different decision. You can do anything you want to. Clique, I know. But it's so true. You need that mindset of stopping your compulsions and this may be a good place to start.
It can be important for you to set goals for yourself. I am postponing washing my hands today. I am choosing to not engage in figuring out this ruminating thought right now. I'll see how badly I want to figure this out at 10am today. At this time, If I remember, I'll see if maybe I can go until 12pm. You have all the power in the world. It's just knowing what to do with it.
Here is something to remember, you're going to be feeling some distress or anxiety. Remind yourself that it's okay. Anxiety is not the bad guy. I don't blame it, it's job is to warn you that you're in danger and gives you ways to feel better. That's the urge right there that we're not giving into. Be prepared and ready to feel uncomfortable while you're delaying compulsions.
You can choose to respond differently to the discomfort. Some may say, "yah man, love it" "thanks for this feeling." "I'm so excited to get better by not doing the compulsion." Any threat that comes your way can be answered with a "maybe, maybe not." This helps the brain be okay with no answer. No answer is the key. You got this!
To be empowered and gain an upper hand, you need to know what compulsions you do that are sneaky. You may not even know you're doing them. Go watch that right now.
How to stop anxiety compulsions
How to stop OCD compulsions
Anxiety Warning Signs
Anxiety. We've all had it before. in this video I will help you identify 15 warning signs that anxiety is creeping it's way in.
Warning sign #1 - Appearing zoned out. when we zone out, we're typically in deep thought. It's okay to be in deep thought, however if we are trying to solve a problem that might be related to a potential fear or worry this is a big warning sign of even more anxiety to come. When other individual start noticing, this is when this warning sign increases. Not being present in the moment while thinking about the past or future is essentially ruminating. We don't want to ruminate, we want to be in the present moment.
#2 - Our emotions increase. We start snapping at something so small. So small that it is almost embarrassing that we got angry in the first place. Something like, my keys fell out of my pocket, I screamed. My child spilled their milk again I snapped at them. The show I wanted to watch is no longer available, I threw the remote. Pay attention to emotions and if they increase sharply for no apparent reason.
#3 - Becoming impatient. That car took 2 seconds to get started at the stoplight. I feel the need for things to be done RIGHT NOW. No time is wasted. When it doesn't go the way I planned, I'm angry.
#4 - Struggling to make eye contact. It's natural to feel uncomfortable when making eye contact. when it becomes a focal point. Something that is on your brain as a potential worry or threat this is when we see it as a problem.
#5 - Not subscribing to this channel - Just kidding. But it will power you up.
#5 - Needing more reassurance. if you don't know by now, reassurance asking makes us feel better. Whether we are asking if everything is okay or we want to know a certain answer. This becomes a problem however when the need for reassurance it's only to reduce anxiety. Especially the reassurance you're trying to seek is the same question you've already gotten a good answer for. This reassurance can be in the form of researching things online or asking somebody.
#6 - Struggling to sit still - if you find yourself more fidgety the normal this may be an indication of some pent-up energy or stress. If you have a difficult time sometimes just sitting, watching TV or playing a video game when these things were enjoyable and easy before this is something to look for.
#7 - Avoid making plans for the future - the future is so uncertain. We don't know anything. Plans that we have can change on a dime. The future makes us anxious. When we find our self not willing to plan anything for the future, it may be an indication that we're not ready to face what's coming up next.
#8 - Cuting your time short or leaving events early- You may find yourself wanting to leave early while hanging out with friends or going to various events. You may even plan for it, make excuses to leave. Essentially, just not enjoying where you're at and longing to be somewhere else.
#9 - Taking too fast - That's right. You may be talking faster than normal. Stumbling over words and simply trying to say what you need to say as fast as you can. You may not even realize you're doing it. When talking fast, you may not even be registering what you're even saying...words may just be flowing out.
#10 - Concentration - If you're finding yourself distracted when doing simple tasks, this may be and indication of anxiety. The brain essentially is problem solving something. It could be important or be random. This lack of attention may be something that bothers you. You cant to be present, but find it difficult to achieve it.
#11 - Noises are too loud - You may be hypersensitive to noises. You're finding yourself cringing, annoyed, angry by various noises thought-out the day. This typically is more than normal. Someone eating, loud cars, that fan at work that is clicking.
#12 - Protecting yourself - You find yourself doing manierisms that protect. You have your phone out more often as to not talk to others. You cross your arms when around people. You won't let others be behind you. You're hyperaware of what is going on around you.
#13 - Hard to breathe - You may notice that simple tasks are exerting a lot of energy. You find yourself out of breathe throughout the day. Shortness of breathe may be a new thing for you. When in normal situations for you, you find yourself struggling to breathe.
#14 - Pacing back and forth - People tend to pace when they are anxious. It gives them something physical to do while they are ruminating or thinking. If you find yourself needing to move around, pace, or walk often, while being stuck in deep thought; this may be an indication that your body is trying to process the extra stress or anxiety within.
#15 - Physical sensations - Dry mouth, tightness in chest, fast heart beats, stomach aches, or headaches. Our body can do some strange things when it's trying to deal with anxiety. It can actually cause physical pain or discomfort to remind us to "fix" the anxiety. Just an extra boost and reminder that something isn't working out well for you.
Ultimately, If you notice any of these 15 warning signs, chances are, you may already be anxious. But that's okay. Anxiety is actually not the enemy. We don't always have to react. We try to focus on what we have control over. If I am overworking myself, I can choose to slow down. If I am isolating myself, I can choose to go out.
Unless we see immediate danger, we don't need to react to anxiety. We see it as a false signal. Maybe just a reminder to slow down and leave things uncertain. Let life by life. Stay in the moment. Notice these warning signs to help you know how you're going to respond to anxiety or for you to know what aspects of your life you have control over and are willing to change.
Soooo, Do you relate to any of these warning signs? How do you know you're about to feel anxiety? Let me know in the comments below.
Recognize anxiety signs
What is moral scrupulosity
We're all built with a moral compass. It tells us what's important. Who we are and what decisions are right for us to be a good person. What happens when it that compass breaks, jumping around the dial trying to find a good spot to land and never satisfied with your final decision. In this video, we will go over the characteristics of moral scrupulosity to see if you can relate and 3 ways we are going to fight it.
If you're obsessing about your ethics, it might not be such a good thing after all. Hear me out, your ethics and morals matter. It's when you have moral dilemmas throughout the day. Questioning and obsessing about your decisions, your ethics, and if you are doing things morally right.
I may have heard the term scrupulosity used to describe religious obsessions. But there are individuals oh, actually a lot of individuals the struggle with scrupulosity have nothing to do with religion. Simply put, they just want to make sure they are a good person. Moral scrupulosity is an obsessive concern about this very thing. Your life might depend on it. You value yourself as it's a very black and white person. This was a good decision, this was a bad decision. This can be determined before the decision is even made. Putting value on something that hasn't even happened yet. Once the person makes this final decision, the brain may say.....you know what bro, ARE YOU SURE?
Here is a checklist of how moral scrupulosity shows itself.
-An excessive concern with being 100% honest at all times.
-Overthinking about the possibility of getting in trouble or breaking the rules.
-Concern and ruminating about past experiences. Those things you can't change and wondering if they were immoral or not.
-Researching if others would make "this" decision. If it makes them good or bad.
-Concern that others would reject you if they really knew about a decision you made.
-Obsessing about an actual moral mistake made and feeling the need to punish oneself.
-Concerned that you've made a mistake because the brain poped in the idea. Having to replay the moments to find out for sure.
-Worried about being disloyal to a partner or spouse or caused someone else to be immoral. A glance at someone may mean you committed adultery.
-All decisions are over-evaluated for their ethics and morals.
Often other themes of OCD like to join the party. It could be contamination, I touched this thing that someone else touched, and if I get them sick, it was wrong of me. Checking - I didn't check all the doors multiple times and if something happens, it may be morally wrong to risk this.
Accidentally causing harm means I'm a bad person. I tripped my child, my carelessness determines who I am as a person.
You get the picture. This all is mingled with anxiety and fear. It may not be worth the risk of being a "bad" person. The compulsions that happen show this:
Lots of reassurance asking - "am I good person" - they may be mentally reviewing their day or doing certain behaviors to make the situation "right" again. Rumination is a big big big one. I'm just thinking and evaluating. Fixing in my brain but never being satisfied.
Now that you know what moral scrupulosity looks like, let's dive into the three ways we're going to fight this.
Okay, here's really #1. use exposure and response prevention. many individuals believe that they must go against their value system when using this type of treatment but this is not the case. In this treatment your whole goal is to be uncertain. this me mean got the problem solving in your brain is no longer something you're going to engage with. You are choosing to stick with what you know and leave the rest uncertain. For instance, send me think that if they have a fear of lying or being deceitful that their exposure must be to lie and be deceitful. If this is not part of your value system it is actually not something you need to do. Instead we focus on those things that you think happened. Those things that you feel you may have lied or have been deceitful. What we end up finding through this whole thing is that what the brain says and what actually happened are two different things. We are exposing to the uncertainty of not knowing if you are a good person or a bad person. We are not going out of our way to make sure that you didn't lie. We are letting life happen as it is. so when the brain says or you completely honest with your boss? my job is to not fall in the Trap of ruminating and trying to figure this out. My job is to respond differently to this.
which brings us to #2 - Respond differently -- Anytime the rain comes up with an idea and it's mixed with anxiety and you have that urge to fix it we are choosing to respond differently. You are almost committing to not find this answer. So I might say. yeah man totally, probably did. what do you think happens when I do this? I almost imagine the brain exploding. It's like, what the heck are you saying. I just told you that you are in such danger right now and that's the response you give me? it actually takes all the value away from this thing. It doesn't take value away from you are values or morals. instead, it is teaching your brain to move forward. To not fall for any threats then you can't physically see in front of you. Responding differently means that you are not doing the compulsions anymore. You might spend some time writing down all the compulsions you do. Compulsions are those things you were doing to be sure that you're a good person, be sure that you didn't lie be sure you'll never hurt somebody be sure you're honest in all your dealings. People tend to be so scared but if they no longer put so much control in this area they will just go off the rails. This is so untrue. We are just simply not responding to OCD and anxiety anymore. Allowing the body and brain to just do it sting when it comes to your values and morals.
#3 - Acceptance - It's important when choosing to do treatment that you have the mindset of acceptance. Acceptance means that you're allowing thoughts to be and choosing to not do anything with them. You accept that you're going to be moving forward in life regardless of the doubting noise in your head. You're not going to make sense and problem solve if you're a good person or not. That is one of the toughest points, choosing to not figure this out. What a lot of people say is, "but if I'm not a good person, I can't live with myself" -- But here's the thing, it's not your job. Your job is to be you, whatever YOU is. We're not determined by what we think we are or what we think we're not. Be you.
The doubts that come in can often be answered with a "maybe, maybe not." or a "okay"
Do you ever excessively question if you're making the right decisions or if you're a good person? Let me know in the comments.
Treatment for moral scrupulosity
Moral scrupulosity ocd
How to stop intrusive thoughts
Let’s talk about 3 types of intrusive thoughts, who has them, if they are harmful to you, and what you can do to get them to stop.
Have you ever had an unwanted thought or image get stuck in your head? Usually, you can ignore it and move on. But sometimes, it just keeps popping right back up.
These thoughts can be sticky. Uncomfortable. And likely not something you want to think about. So if you don’t want to think about these thoughts why are they happening. It is intrusive. You didn’t invite it in. You’re also having a hard time getting rid of this thought. It seems like the more times you push the thought away, it comes back even stronger.
You may have heard people say this before. Everyone has intrusive thoughts. But just because everyone has them doesn’t mean that yours do not matter. An intrusive thought can be literally anything. It could be random images, disturbing and violent ideas. It can be completely random in the sense of the brain continuing to say “what if” this were to happen. These can feel more than just thoughts. Some can feel them. They can be constant, relentless, make you cringe, make you even question yourself because you’re having certain thoughts.
I find that these thoughts love to come when you want them the least. They definitely are not easy to ignore. It is like a relentless child meeting your attention. Waiting for you to put value want to what they just said. Repeating something over and over and over again. Dad, dad, dad, dad, dad, dad, dad.
So the question is, are these intrusive thoughts harmful to you? The short answer is no. They are actually harmless. But, if you obsess about them, but value to them, and even try to find a way to get the thoughts to stop…. Then it can be a time where your life is now interrupted.
This can be often a sign of a mental health condition, often intrusive thoughts can be a symptom of anxiety, depression, OCD. When we say that everyone has intrusive thoughts. Somebody might have I thought that comes to your mind that causes some concern. This thought comes and it goes. If someone is struggling with a mental health condition, these thoughts come, and they come and they come and they come. That usually is accompanied by anxiety. By fear. By meaning. The brain is trying to interpret what just happened. It says that it must mean something important.
That right there is the trap. Once we start putting meaning on these thoughts, then we just put a value on them. Once they have value, they want to keep coming. Making individuals often feel bad about themselves.
Intrusive thoughts have many forms. Here are 3 types of intrusive thoughts
Sexual thoughts. It’s natural to have a sexual thought. They often come in they go. They’re very automatic end up to find you in anyway. When they are intrusive, they may come in the form of worry. Sexual intrusive thoughts can often include images and questions. It can be about anything and anyone.
Violent thoughts: Some may have harm thoughts. These thoughts may be related to hurting yourself or someone else. It could be an intrusive thought about pushing someone in front of a car. It can be fairly aggressive, he can make you wonder if you would ever act upon those thoughts. These thoughts can feel very real and graphic.
I called the next one just junk thoughts. You have no control over them, they have zero relevance to your life. You can be a thought about an interaction you had with somebody. It can be certain words that just repeat in your brain, certain images that keep coming back, more than them causing distress, they may cause annoyance. Individuals know that these thoughts don’t matter, yet they can’t get them out of their brain.
So here’s what you do with them…..NOTHING. --- Wow Nate, crap video bro. --- Wait, wait wait….hear me out. Nothing means, don’t come up with a list of things you can do to get the thoughts to stop. The second you devise a plan, the more thoughts you are likely to have. This is because we’re putting value on the thoughts. We’re saying they matter enough for us to problem solve how to get rid of them.
So with the NOTHING attitude, we see a thought as a thought. Don’t matter if it’s a harm thought, scary thoughts, or simply a plain on boring thought that just won’t stop. We can’t stop the thoughts, instead we can practice responding to them in a different way. Something like, “I’m loving these thoughts, you’re welcome to stick around” “join the party” “I may or may not have these thoughts all day, I’ve accepted it either way.” A thought is neither good or bad.
INVITE, INVITE, INVITE….It’s more enticing to a thought to want to come when it’s not welcome. When you’ve opened the doors and let whatever happen happen….it’s not as fun. There is a greater chance that this thought won’t come around.
Many may be asking….sooo when do these thoughts go away then? We don’t put a timeline on it. We don’t expect them to. We don’t look for freedom. We accept where we are now and enjoy the ride. The thoughts will slow down, when they slow down. In the meantime, your job is to LIVE life, let the thoughts be, don’t fix them, don’t make sense of them, don’t label them.
It’s doing what you want to do, NO MATTER WHAT thought comes your way. So, are you going to try it….Try Nothing. It’s worth your time to do nothing.
You know what will power you up? Subscribing to this channel. Thanks so much for watching and I will see you next time.
Intrusive OCD Thoughts
Sexual Intrusive Thoughts
Drop The Rope Analogy
Imagine yourself facing a monster. Maybe it’s your anxiety or OCD. It can take on any form. It can look like anything. It can be tall, small, short, big. It can have claws, horns, sharp teeth. It can be furry, bald, or however you’d describe your monster. Between you and the monster is a giant pit that represents your symptoms. The never-ending feelings of anxiety or OCD. The nagging questioning and doubting that anxiety loves to bring. This canyon or pit is BIG. Real big. You can hardly even see the bottom. It almost feels hopeless that this big pit will be there to stay forever. Now imagine yourself near the edge of this pit holding a rope. The rope spans across the pit. Guess who’s holding on to the other end. You guessed it, your monster. That pesty thing.
You are stuck in a perpetual tug of war. To not fall into the pit, you’re holding tighter. I mean, the rope has been your security and safety this long. (the rope are your compulsions….the things that your anxiety says will keep you safe) They are the….”just check the stove one more time” “are you sure you’re a good person, go ask mom again.” “better research again to make sure you didn’t really do that thing.” As you’re pulling this rope, you’re in constant battle with your symptoms. The monster. It really doesn’t budge, it won’t go over this pit.
You think that the more you pull this rope (do the compulsions) the closer you’ll get to finding freedom and allowing that monster drop right into the pit. The sad part is….the monster gets right to that edge and does one bit TUG, pulling you right back into those compulsions and making you doubt all over again. It can feel never ending. The only thing the brain says is to keep trying….you almost had it. This cycle repeats over and over again. There is one thing the monster doesn’t expect……..you drop the rope. That’s right. You have all the power in the world. You’ve been feeding it this whole time. You stop doing the compulsions. You stop trying to figure it out. You stop all of it. You allow the anxiety to just be there. You even act like you don’t care. The monster is ANGRY man.
It screams across the pit telling you to pick the rope back up…it’s the only way…it throws out these threats… You answer each threat by agreeing with it or saying, “yep, maybe.” “cool, thanks for that thought.” You learn that the chatter of the monster slows down. It finally takes a seat….It’s no fun for this monster. You’ll realize that the threats it’s ever given you have been false this whole time. The urge to pick this rope back up becomes less and less. It takes commitment, but you do it. You’re dedicated to NEVER figure out your “what if” or to react to any “perceived threat” that comes your way. You’ve gained control again.
You’re the boss. You may feel like you didn’t “win” the battle, but you’ve accepted it for what it is. Acceptance is key. You’ve learned to live with this monster regardless of the threats. Some days it’s tougher, some days it’s no big deal. Regardless… you live the life you want to live. Ultimately, what I want you to do is to figure out what you’re still holding on to and allow yourself to “drop the rope”. Your time is NOW. Make sure you check out my online self-directed OCD course to help you drop the rope and learn the correct treatment for your own OCD. What things do you need to drop the rope with? Thank you so much for watching and I will see you next time.
Acceptance and commitment therapy and anxiety
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OCD about the past
Think about your OCD and anxiety symptoms for a moment. Whenever you are feeling anxious or are ruminating. Is it about things that are happening right now in this moment? Typically we are feeling anxious about things from our past or things in our future. Really think about it. A thought like, did I leave the stove on? That lives in the past. Will I do this thing my brain says I’m going to do? This is in the future.
So, real anxiety that is meant to be felt is for the present moment. Meaning, we need to see the threat. It can’t be a guess of what the threat is going to be it has to be something we actually can see right now. Something like that car that is coming my direction and I need to jump out of the way. I am at somebody’s house and I threw up. My child fell in the swimming pool and they can swim. Here’s the thing. When real moments of anxiety actually happen we can fix it and problem solve it.
OCD and anxiety hate living in the present moment. Because in the present moment it knows there is not an actual threat. The only power it has is to warn you of a perceived threat even if it is so untrue and so unfounded. The only power thinks it has is to remind you of the past. To remind you of all those things that you did that you can’t believe you did. But the thing it forgets is that your brain back then is not the same brain you have now. Just like when you are five years old, the behaviors, the decisions you made, the tantrums you threw do not define who you are right now in this moment. Your brain is different now. We learn, we adapt, we look back at experiences and say wow, I can’t believe I actually did that. And the only way we got there is because we learned new things, we grew up.
OCD loves to attach to the past. We give it zero attention. We don’t even need to use logic with it. Life is what it is. We learn through experiences and we move forward. When the brain comes up with memories from the past we can answer them with, oh yeah! I remember when that happened. Sweet glad I made those decisions. With these answers do they allow your brain to stop going to the past because you simply are teaching it that you don’t care. You’re not answering it the way that you normally would.
When it comes to the future, we treated the same way. It comes up with any what if’s and we need to learn to answer it with yes, that may or may not happen. I don’t know, I don’t have a Time Machine to know for sure it is not my job to know right now. We will cross that bridge when I get there. Because more hours of ruminating and problem solving about possible threats does not prevent it from actually happening. Because we often find that there was no threat to begin with. Even when anxiety tells you so strongly that is true. We are not falling for it.
So your job is to keep your anxiety and OCD symptoms in the present moment. Staying in the present means you’re not trying to problem solve future. Staying in the present moment means you are not revisiting the past. Staying in the present means you are actually being present. You’re going out and doing things even if you don’t feel up for it. You are allowing yourself to enjoy life and continually answering these past or future thoughts with uncertainty.
So for you to gain the upper hand, we already know staying in the present moment is one of the best things you can do. Feel empowered when you do not engage in the past or the future. Allow life to be lived right now. Start by answering any threat with and maybe maybe not.
This is how you will gain control over your OCD and anxiety.
Here’s my question for you, let me know in the comments. Does your anxiety or OCD threaten you about the past or your future?
Thank you so much for watching, and I will see you next time.
OCD about the future
OCD about the present
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.
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Nathan Peterson specializes in working with OCD and Anxiety related disorders and has done so for the past 7+ years.