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As you may already know, i’ve managed to get to a place with OCD and intrusive thoughts where they don’t really bother me that much any more, but sometimes there are days, the really challenging days, when something can still come up from nowhere and suddenly catch you out.
In The Maze
In these moments, like in the maze with a minotaur, it’s important that we have a plan. If we don’t then it’s quite likely that we are going to get stuck in the OCD maze, a place none of us want to be as there is normally a metaphorical minotaur hiding behind each and every corner. This is why we need to have a powerful technique for intrusive OCD thoughts.
So, lets say that for whatever reason, the intrusive thoughts are worse today than normal. There could be a million reasons for why this is the case. Perhaps your better half has been winding you up, perhaps you have problems at work, or perhaps even you’re on holiday trying to relax and that’s the reason the thoughts won’t let you be.
It Used To Shock Me
It actually always used to shock me how this would happen when I went on holiday. I’d be looking forward to it for weeks in advance and then, having finally arrived at my destination, the mind would become noisier than ever. Almost like when the incessant doing of our lives finally stops for two minutes we’re left with the bare naked reality of uncomfortable thoughts and with nothing to distract ourselves, they can seem worse than ever.
This simple and honest truth is teaching us something about where we are in our mission to overcome OCD. Ultimately it’s a mission of bringing more acceptance to the thoughts. We start to make huge progress when we can truly start to accept it. But acceptance always seems so vague and wishy washy, particularly in the face of intrusive thoughts that are so distressing
Logic Is Not Helpful For OCD
Before knowing much about OCD and it’s underlying causes, we use logic as our weapon to deal with the thoughts. But as you probably know, this is a losing battle. You can’t reason with OCD. Logic may well provide you with an understanding of the problem, it leads you to the dragon lair, but it’s not going to show how to slay the beast, or more accurately, how to befriend it.
This befriending is acceptance and one of the best ways i’ve come across for starting the process of acceptance for uncomfortable and challenging intrusive thoughts or ruminations is simply to thank yourself for experiencing them. This may seem ridiculous and inadequate, but bare with me. By repeatedly thanking yourself for the thoughts, your brain starts to get a new message about them.
The fact of the matter is, that whilst you may not like these thoughts, they are trying to tell you something. But don’t go thinking that they are trying to teach you about the content of the thoughts, in my experience that would be a misconception. They are in fact trying to teach you about acceptance, because the truth of the matter is, until you bring more acceptance to them, they are going to persist.
Acceptance has many shades of grey, it’s not like you can do it or not. It’s a process of trial and error of experimenting and seeing what works for you, but if you want to get a head start in learning about acceptance, thanking yourself for the thoughts is a really good way to get started. This is actually a powerful technique for OCD intrusive thoughts.
Gratitude Will Set You Free
In addition to this, as you continue to thank yourself for the thoughts your brain starts to get the message that there is indeed something to be thankful for in the situation and actually will begin the process of finding that thing. Before you know it, you may become aware of something positive or something to be happy for. A glimpse of sunlight when you’re in a dark place can be enough to get yourself up and moving again and this is what i think this technique can offer us.
Obviously, how we go about it is also important, we need to use it in a positive way and to believe that it is going to help us. Just adopting this mindset to any new technique is going to make it more likely that it’s going to work. Ultimately, bringing more gratitude to the experience of OCD, as alien as that might seem at first, will help you to overcome it.