Blinking obsessions can become extremely frustrating for those who deal with them. In this article we will explore what blinking OCD is and how you can overcome it.
What is blinking OCD?
Blinking OCD is one of many sensorimotor obsessions. If you are unaware of what sensorimotor OCD is, you can read my blog about it here. But put simply, sensorimotor OCD is when your attention becomes fixated on previously subconscious bodily actions, such as breathing, blinking and swallowing.
In an article for BeyondOCD.org, David. J. Keuler PHD claims that ´Sensorimotor obsessions as defined here involve either a focus on automatic bodily processes or discrete physical sensations. Whether technically sensory or sensorimotor in nature, such obsessions share one common precursor: selective attention´.
How does it cause so much distress?
As pointed out by Keuler, people who struggle with this type of OCD feel like their attention is stuck on one thing and no matter what they do, they can´t get it to shift. I struggled with sensorimotor OCD for many years so I am well aware of just how infuriating this can be. It can feel like you are always going to be stuck like this and this is an incredibly disempowering feeling.
Perhaps you feel like you can´t overcome blinking OCD as it´s been with you for a long time, or perhaps it´s a new thing, but it´s causing you a lot of stress. The good news is though that you can learn to actively shift your attention onto different things and you don´t need to feel like a prisoner of these thoughts (because you´re not).
What can you do about it?
Well actually there´s quite a lot you can do about blinking OCD. The first thing to do though is to roll up your sleeves and start finding out as much as you can about mindfulness as you can. If you have read my blog before you may know that I don´t like the word ´mindfulness´. It´s an overly used word and what on earth does it even mean anyway?
By mindfulness I mean learning to purposefully tune in to the present moment by using an anchor to focus on. For example, normally in meditation people pay very close attention to the breath. Whenever they are distracted by a thought, they keep bringing their attention back to the breath. By doing this, they are learning to selectively pay attention to the bodily process of breathing.
Now if your obsession was about breathing, then this would be a good activity for you, as instead of pushing the obsession away, you are now choosing to focus in on it and this sends a very powerful message to the brain that it´s ok to be aware of this. When you keep practicing this, you will begin to notice how your attention shifts.
A blinking OCD Exercise
To overcome blinking OCD then we need to bring the same quality of awareness to the blinking. You can try the following and see how it works for you, in my experience though you need to commit to doing this every day to see some longer-term benefits.
You can do this sat down in your room or if you like you can do it in the bathroom in front of the mirror. Instead of trying to distract yourself from the blinking, you are going to bring all of your attention and focus to the eyes and the process of blinking. You can consciously blink and really pay attention to it.
If you notice any anxiety as you´re doing this, try your best to accept it and carry on with bringing your attention to the process of the blinking. If you can, try to make it feel a little uncomfortable and just pay attention to how that feels. Once you´ve done this for two or three minutes, stop and just notice any anxiety that you have without doing anything to get rid of it. Repeat these two or three times a day. Remember the important thing with this and the reason that it works is that you are no longer pushing away the thoughts and sensations, you are doing the opposite. This gives the message that you are the boss and not the OCD.
If you find this difficult to do on your own, then I would definitely recommend that you work with someone to help you with this.
I do hope that this was helpful. Blinking OCD like all types of sensorimotor OCD can be extremely difficult to deal with, but with the right approach and strategy you can overcome it. If you have any questions or would like to work with me on this, then do please get in touch.