Act therapy for anxiety
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.
Drop the rope metaphor
drop the anxiety rope
Test your anxiety and OCD
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.
OCD treatment tips
So maybe you have done the treatment for OCD and anxiety. Or you’re currently working on it. The treatment that I love and focus on his exposure and response prevention. This treatment can be tough as nails. I mean were telling you to completely forgo everything you think you know and change it. To face your fears. Responds completely different to them. Stop doing those things that made you feel comfortable and gave you relief. Man, this treatment can be tough but it is so worth it.
As you are going through your treatment journey for anxiety and OCD I wanted to give you some information to help you through gaining more success in these treatment strategies.
So if this is the first time you’re hearing about exposure and response prevention, man you’re in for a treat. And you also found what is in my opinion the best treatment I can help you with your anxiety and OCD symptoms. We broke it down by just the name of the treatment.
Exposure = you are exposing yourself to perceived threats. Meaning, your brain is going to be throwing out a lot of threats. Mixed with a lot of anxiety, and we are choosing to face these fears with uncertainty. Almost like you are doing an experiment to see if the threat that came to your brain is actually going to happen or not…. Sounds scary right. What we find time and time and time and time again is that the threat doesn’t happen. We can never be 100% sure what we are willing to take that risk..
Response prevention = This is the way you were responding to the fear. You cannot face the fear and continue to respond as if it’s a big deal. Is that still has meaning and power. The response to me is one of the most important aspects of this treatment. When we respond with almost the complete opposite of what we normally would do and must imagine your brain exploding. Saying, what the heck are you doing? I’m warning you you’re in danger and you’re completely acting like this is no big deal. If you’re saying this is in the big deal and you can show me that over and over and over again maybe I need to stop telling you this is a big deal. Some people respond was smiling, they respond with words like maybe maybe not. Sometimes they agree with the threat. Yeah I would totally love if that happened. And it doesn’t matter what seem or topic anxiety or OCD is attached to. We can use the same response techniques.
So with this treatment of exposure and response prevention. One idea I would give you is to find times in your day and life to practice uncertainty. Even with things that actually don’t bother you or cause much anxiety. This can be like, what time my going have dinner today? I don’t know, could be 3 o’clock 4 o’clock 5 o’clock 6 o’clock.
I wonder how long it takes me to get to this location, I don’t know. I could hit traffic, could take 10 minutes longer, maybe I’ll get there five minutes sooner.
I wonder if this person likes me or not…. You know they may or may not like me. I may never know for sure.
I wonder if people think this video is boring? They may or may not… I may never know for sure. Except for I can see my stats. And if you’re watching this right now this current moment, thank you for sticking around, I appreciate you.
Essentially, you don’t need to know anything unless it’s super important. We spent our day looking for certainty. When we can take opportunities to practice uncertainties in most aspects of life we actually are more free. We no longer are trying to control everything.
My favorite phrase is maybe, maybe not. I use this every single day in some aspect or another. Of my brain never says what if, the answer is maybe maybe not. If it’s something that’s really not that important but I am catching myself trying to problem solve it, I may just answer with them maybe maybe not allow myself to move forward.
This is something you can practice with yourself, with your family, with your kids. Allow kids to be uncertain. This helps them prepare for this uncertain world that we live in. so when they say when we get to get there, the answer may be five minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes. One of those three. We leave life ambiguous on purpose.
Allow yourself to face uncertainty in life, daily activities, and especially anxiety moments where you do not see an immediate threat.
So what uncertainties can you face today? Let me know in the comments below.
Thank you so much for watching, and I will see you next time.
Treatment skills for OCD
OCD treatment is a lifestyle
Thought suppression 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.
How to stop intrusive thoughts
How to stop OCD thoughts
What is a backdoor spike
Backdoor spikes are a response to your recovery and success. Those who are recovered with anxiety all of a sudden feel a SPIKE of anxiety that came out NO WHERE. It almost sneaks through the back door and says, “hello, is anywhere there….remember me.” “Let me make you doubt yourself, your diagnosis, and all your feelings.” “make you fearful that you’re going to get stuck with all these OCD and anxiety symptoms all over again.”
Introduction: Hi, my name is Nathan Peterson and in this video I want to share with you what a backdoor spike is and what to do with these nasty things. Just when you think you have it all figured out…..uhhhhhh
The “backdoor spike” is a term that is used to describe the overwhelming feelings that individuals with OCD get when they have thoughts that may make them worry that symptoms may come back.
A backdoor spike often comes about when an individual has been doing well with their treatment plan for a few weeks or months, leading them to believe that they no longer need treatment. This could be related to the person having had some success and believing they are doing well on their own, or it could happen simply because the anxiety-provoking events of their life are naturally subsiding. But then suddenly out of nowhere comes this thought:
“Even though I haven't had any obsessions or compulsive behaviors in weeks, I still may not be able to control them if anything happens to mess up my treatment plan. What would happen if my Dad got sick? Or if my family gets into another car accident? Then these thoughts wouldn't go away and I'd never get better.” (The word “I’ll never get rid of OCD!” is often present here.) This thought can also take the form of an intuition:
Because I have the thought it must be true. It must mean something great and amazing. It must be my intuition trying to warn me of something.
The individual struggling with a backdoor spike can spend days or even weeks trying to regain control over their thoughts and feelings as they cycle through obsessive questioning of their own sanity.
Even after many months or years of recovery, some people with OCD may still find themselves struggling with backdoor spikes. For example, a person might not be able to "really" believe that they are not going back into full-blown OCD because of feeling so depressed without their obsessions and compulsions. Or they may feel so much shame about having had OCD in the first place that any thoughts about getting better make them feel like an impostor who doesn't deserve such good fortune.
When symptoms start to decline. Individuals are feeling really good. I guess what, those darn intrusive thoughts don’t want to stop. So individuals can start questioning. Wait! I’m still having all these thoughts and I’m not feeling anxious about them. This must mean something. That must mean that I was really a bad person this whole time. Must mean the things I was thinking about is actually going to happen.
So with these backdoor spikes what we do about it? The answer may surprise you. Are you ready? You do everything you’ve already doing. That’s right! The treatment that you did which is most likely exposure and response prevention is the treatment that we continually use for backdoor spikes. Because the body and brain all of a sudden come up with a threat, tries to convince you that you’re in danger all over again and most of the time your job is to respond completely different to these threats. If you’re looking around you don’t see immediate danger we choose to leave these threats uncertain.
Responses like yeah totally I’m going right back into that OCD what a fun ride this is going to be. I sure hope these experiences come back that would be so amazing. It will not feeling anxiety about it probably does mean I like it. Some may choose to just stick with the uncertainty route which is those maybe maybe not statements.
Essentially, we are not problem-solving anymore. Not trying to figure out if you’ll have symptoms again or not. Not figure out why you’re not feeling anxiety. We’re not putting any value to this anymore!
Intuition isn’t a part of this. The brain is really tricky and make someone believe their thoughts are so powerful. Don’t fall for it.
One thing to know about backdoor spikes is that it may make you believe that this new topic or fear that throws your way is different. It can make you believe that this is so absolutely important. Because all it wants is for you to come back in to the OCD cycle. To reattach. They think about it, individuals may go weeks or months without anxiety, then all of a sudden comes back. We naturally are going up a lot of meaning to this.
In here is how we can see the difference between something you need to put value to something you don’t. When anxiety hits, you might look around you, if you don’t see anything happening. The ceiling is falling down, there isn’t a lion running at you, your child’s not about to fall off the counter, It has to be see something you can physically see. Not something you “THINK” is going to happen.
If there is nothing you can see where you would be in danger, you may choose to treat it as a false alarm and give it NOTHING. Answer a lot of fears with, Yep, maybe maybe not. Or Totally man.
To reduce the likely hood of a backdoor spike, people do treatment, even when they’re doing well. They do treatment. They continue to face the fears they did in the past. Just to remind them that they are still the boss.
If you are wanting to learn treatment for yourself, check out my online self-directed course for OCD. There are 42 videos this thing. Takes you through everything you need to know about your OCD and how to do treatment. I’ll leave a link down in the description below. You can even check It out for free.
So here’s my question for you, have you experienced these backdoor spikes? What did it look like for you?
Backdoor spikes with OCD
Anxiety backdoor spike
How To Stop Derealization
Man, this video is a long time coming. Derealization. Have you ever experienced this before? It can be so scary for the person experiencing this. They can feel so trapped like there is no other way out. Derealization is a mental state or an individual may feel detached from their surroundings. People, objects, things around them may seem on unreal. You are even so aware that something is wrong that this can often be an obsession on how to make it right again. How to feel attached again. Unlike something like psychosis or delirium, individuals no that there are in an altered state that something isn’t normal.
Jeep and mill that more than half of people will feel this disconnection from reality at least once in their lifetime.
Hi my name is Nathan Peterson…..I am the creator the online OCD and BFRB courses and release videos every week that can help give you different treatment strategies for what you’re going through.
Deralization is similar to Depersonalization. The difference is depersonalization will experience the same thing except for adding a detachment of their own body, thoughts, and feelings. Almost as if you’re watching yourself as an outsider. I will have a whole separate video on this.
Derealization usually happens in different pockets of time. Meaning that these symptoms may come in they may go. Some common experiences that people have are these:
-The sounds around them can feel distorted, they can even seem too loud or too soft.
- Often individuals will feel like they are in a dream state or have some brain fog.
- The world around sees pretty lifeless, useless, what’s the point, you can seem fake that everyone is just doing their own thing every single day.
- Objects around them can look wrong. They can look different than how they actually appear. Things may seem to sharp, others may seem too small or too big. You can even seem blurry.
- Some may feel like there is something separating them from the world around them almost like an invisible wall. This wall that they cannot just break through.
Some have experienced these for only a few minutes while others may experience this for months at a time. Individuals often feel like they are going crazy. They recognize that something is off. And all the brain is wanting them to do this is to find a connection again.
Many will ask me: where does this come from?
Guess what, every person is different.
Some say that common events that trigger the derealization is emotional abuse or neglect. Others say it’s completely random. Some say it’s only linked to anxiety or OCD.
There is not currently a medical way to see if this is something you are experiencing or not.
When derealization manifest as part of anxiety or OCD the treatment I typically do is exposure and response prevention. Individuals may obsess and continually think about how to get out of these experiences. Their problem-solving is so much that they’re allowing themselves to continue being stuck in these Episodes. With exposure and response prevention the whole idea is how can you take power away from the bodily response or thoughts that you are having. Instead of pulling away from the experience we are moving closer to it. Meaning if somebody were to go through this experience right now, would focus on all the threats the brain comes up with an essentially answer every single one of them with either an uncertainty answer such as maybe maybe not, or we completely agree with the threat.
If the brain says all know what’s happening what if you don’t come out of this. The answer is maybe I will maybe it won’t. Or I totally hope I don’t come out of this, man it be wonderful if I was stuck in this forever. When we agree with the threat it takes the power and value away from it.
Instead what people try to do as they had the thought oh no it’s coming but I don’t come out of this. Maybe if I sit down it will go away, maybe for drink much water it will go away. Maybe I don’t go to that event because all make it worse. Maybe for research on the Internet it will go away. If I just on that answer I can get this to go away. The brain is coming up with plenty of ideas on how to solve this problem.
We are no longer trying to solve this problem. We practice not doing compulsions. These are the things you are trying to do to problem solve yourself through this. You may experience the moment even mindfully. I don’t feel connected to the moment, cool what do I experience. What do I see, what do I feel, that it’s not to make sense of it all is to show yourself that your living life here in the specific moment.
When people practice this exposure and response prevention every single time they go through an episode the brain finally gets it. It learns that it’s giving you these thoughts and feelings and disconnection and when you’re not responding to it the way it wants you to learns. He learns that if it doesn’t have value then it no longer needs to bring this into your life.
You don’t give yourself a timeline of when this is going to go away. You allow it to be there regardless of what’s happening in your life. You allowed to leave if it wants to that you are not the person that is pushing it away. A lot of acceptance is needed with derealization. You will continue living your life the way that you want to live your life not changing anything because of this feeling of disconnection.
Often I see derealization connected with OCD, if you’re looking for a little extra help with your OCD I do have an online step-by-step course that takes you through treatment. A link that down in the description below.
Here is my question for you.
Have you ever experienced derealization before? What things of help to you what things make a worse?
Thank you so much for watching, and I will see you next time.
The derealization cure
How to stop DPDR
COVID and Anxiety
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 OCD
COVID 19 and Anxiety
Inhibitory Learning 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 essentially 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.
Habituation For OCD
Inhibitory Learning Exposures
How To Stop Asking For Reassurance With OCD
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A really common question that I get often is this. How do I know if I’m seeking reassurance? How do I know what I can ask and what I can’t? Our entire life we have been trained to seek for reassurance. We been trained to give reassurance. But if you think about any moments of your life, when someone gives you reassurance whether this is OCD related or not has it actually helped. And if it has how long does it last?
Before you’re about to go on stage in front of a lot of people someone will say you’re going to do great or you got this. Does this automatically change every emotion you have and now you’re super confident and nothing to worry about? I would guess not. So then why do we give this reassurance. We do it because it’s a temporary fix someone might feel great for a second maybe 10 seconds but we are who we are. Before feeling anxious or feeling anxious. If we have a what if in our mind were going to have a what if in her mind.
But because of this natural training we seek this reassurance throughout life. When it comes to OCD, reassurance tends to be one of the biggest compulsions that I see. So I can see where individuals are cautious when they’re trying to figure out if they’re seeking reassurance or they just want to know something.
Here are some indicators that might help you recognize if you’re using reassurance or if you’re generally curious. The first thing you do is recognize your motivation. You have a question in mind that you want answered. If you don’t get the answer to this question are you studying to be okay? Will you move on? We move forward? If you are motivated to find an answer only to feel better or to feel some relief you are likely searching for reassurance. If you’re only wanting an answer because you feel curious about something then go ahead. But again look at your reason for why you are asking. You have to be okay with not knowing the answer.
You can almost assume that if anxiety is present within an urge to know an answer we are just going to say OCD. Even if you’re wrong. Individuals sometimes come up with this guideline, if I’m feeling anxious whatsoever I don’t get to know this answer right now. I may reevaluate after the anxiety is gone to see how important it is for me to know this thing I want to know.
Reassurance is not just asking questions. It can be in the form of researching online, checking your body for different symptoms, or even reassuring yourself that everything is going to be okay that maybe thoughts are not facts.
While reassurance gives that very temporary fix. When some to go through treatment they are really learning not to seek this reassurance. Some may choose to write down every question that they continually ask on a piece of paper and have that handy to remind them that this is not the thing that you’re asking anymore. Some may ask their loved ones or friends to give them an answer like “maybe maybe not” to a question that you may have asked them multiple times. To remind you all right a message to be asking this.
But when individuals choose to not do the compulsion of reassurance, they need to know to do about this. It’s not just sitting through the anxiety and staring at a wall. It’s teaching your body how to respond differently to these thoughts and feelings. So we do this through exposure and response prevention. You are essentially responding differently to the fears that come your way. Through your body language, through thoughts, and through behaviors.
So to go back to the original question, how do I know if I’m asking for reassurance or not. Come up with a guideline for yourself, if you feeling anxious you’re not gonna do it. If you’re genuinely curious maybe you do. If you’re questioning if it’s reassurance or not you might just assume that it is.
Finding a therapist can really help you through this. I’ll leave the link down in the description if you’re looking for a live therapist for an NOCD and for my online self-directed course for OCD.
So here’s my question for you, what things do you find yourself seeking reassurance for?
Reassurance and OCD
Reassurance OCD compulsion
My OCD is different
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?
OCD feeling alone
OCD is unique
Nathan Peterson, LCSW
OCD can be tricky! I want to provide useful information for your OCD, anxiety, tics, tourette's, BFRBs, and many other anxiety related disorders.