Past thoughts and OCD
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.
Future thoughts OCD
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.
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
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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This video is sponsored by NOCD – NOCD is great. You get connected with a licensed, OCD-trained therapist right on your phone. They help diagnose what you’re experiencing, you actually do the the most effective treatment for OCD with live video appointments online and you get support in between sessions by messaging your therapist. You can check them out at www.treatmyocd.com
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
How To Stop Compulsions with OCD
How many things do we do in our life because “just in case”. Our brain comes up with an idea of “something bad” happening and we tend to follow it up with….well just in case, I’ll do this behavior. I want to talk about the traps we can fall into when we use “just in case” when it comes to OCD and anxiety.
So if you really think about it, this just in case mentality is the root of a lot of anxiety and OCD. Most people are not doing certain compulsions because they know a hundred percent no doubt in their mind that the thing they're scared of is going to happen. They are doing these behaviors because they want to prevent something that they don’t know could happen.
For instance, those who may struggle with contamination OCD wash their hands just in case there are germs or contaminants.
Those who struggle with sexual orientation OCD might ask for reassurance again just in case the person didn’t understand them correctly.
Someone who struggles with relationship OCD may just end the relationship just in case it was never meant to go anywhere.
Someone with real event or false memory OCD may spend a lot of time ruminating, their thinking through all these different types of scenarios just in case they find some new evidence to what they’re thinking.
These just in case behaviors keep people trapped in their OCD. And what I want is for people to turn this all away around and say just in case my theory is wrong I’m willing to risk it. Risking it means they are using exposure and response prevention. This is something to think about when you are going through your OCD topics or themes. You think about your motivation for why you are doing whatever you are doing. You can follow it up with I’m doing this just in case ….. -- if there is even a just in case there and you know it’s part of your OCD this is a moment to step back and say I am purposely not going to do this behavior or this compulsion.
Because what the brain needs to learn is that you are saying I’m going to fix this before there’s ever a problem. The problem that doesn’t happen in all the brain knows is that you had a lot of control over the outcome. This can be completely false because in reality, you may have not had any control. The brain doesn’t know this, this is your job to teach it. The only way for it to learn is for you to not do the compulsion to respond differently to the thoughts and fears.
Because what happens is that when your brain says This thing five times or a family member will die. You choose not to. You see that the outcome most likely doesn’t happen. When it doesn’t happen it starts correcting the brain and retraining it to say, hey you completely lied to me. You said I had to tap five times, and nothing happened. Maybe it’s time for you to stop lying to me.
Your brain congratulates you for taking care of the just in case moments. Of course, we can never be 100% sure that these bad things will never happen in your life. But that’s not the point, the point is that you may need to risk that the fear in your mind may happen but it’s not because of any compulsion were not doing a compulsion.
So the next time your brain says just in case. Look around you, if you don’t see immediate danger then you may choose to make a different choice, you may learn to sit through the anxiety, not ruminate through it, not do any other compulsion…. And see what the outcome is. You may be surprised.
So here’s my question for you, what just in case things do you do?
Stop What if with ocd
Just In Case with OCD
How To Stop Ruminating with OCD
Rumination and OCD
This video is a long time coming. Let’s talk about rumination. Do you know what rumination is? I would say most, If not all individuals who struggle with OCD ruminate. The official definition of rumination is “the action of chewing the cud”……
Wait, that’s not it. How about this. “a deep or considered thought about something.” That’s better. We can all be in deep thought from time to time. It can whisk us away from the present moment. It can distract us from noticing the surroundings around us. Some have said that rumination is often considered to be a silent mental health issue. No one can see what’s going on except the person. They often don’t know the harm they may be causing themselves because of this rumination.
But why would thinking something very deeply be an issue? Well, it only tends to be an issue when it actually starts interfering in a person’s life. When it comes to anxiety, rumination is essentially a way for the individual to gain answers and problem solve whatever they’re feeling anxious about. It’s trying to problem solve the future. Trying to problem solve the “what if’s”.
If you think about yourself, are you ever able to actually come up with a good answer to the things you are ruminating about. I would guess the answer is no. Because we think we have a good answer, we react as if we have a good answer, we do behaviors assuming we have a good answer, and in the end it ends up being different than what you thought.
Rumination is a huge part of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Individuals who struggle with this often are looking for certainty. They want to know for sure what they are experiencing is true or not. If there really that type of person or not. If they would really do that thing or not. If that catastrophe in the future is going to happen or not. Rumination is thinking about all these things. Thinking about your specific topic or fear when it comes to your anxiety and OCD. Often rumination is just trying to figure out if what you are experiencing is OCD related or not. It’s problem-solving through what your brain says is a potential problem.
Here is an example: somebody you may experience contamination OCD may attach to door handle. Their brain has attached meaning to this. Here’s the rumination and what my sound like: “ I can’t believe you just touch the door handle. Do you have any people touch the door handle? What if somebody was sick that touched it? Do if you touched your face or no after you touch the door handle? No is probably okay to touch it. But if it’s not okay then I’ll get sick. I get Sick, then I won’t be able to go to work. If I can’t go to work, then how am I going to support my family. You know even though it’s probably fine, you should probably wash your hands just in case.
The person goes to wash their hands.
I know you washed your hands, did you know if you touched your pants afterwards? I know you trust your phone is a something you probably need to wash? How about you just change her clothes just in case. Well I know now you just kept yourself safe, but did you see that your child just touched the door handle. What things did they touch. Maybe need to go ask them, wash their hands change their clothes washed the door handle.
As you can see, this person is problem-solving they are doing just in case behaviors. There trying to think through it and prevent whatever the fear is from happening. Often I see rumination as very automatic. It will throw out these threats to you as quick as it can. If you go down this road and problem solve or think through the situation. You are doing a compulsion.
The compulsions are the things that are keeping you trapped. All your brain knows is that you may have saved yourself from whatever fear it says was going to come your way. It is a liar. You cannot think your way through your fear.
I say don’t engage with rumination. Do not give it any power whatsoever. This is a very tough task. But here are some tips you can use. Making sure you give your brain the same answer every single time it threatens you. It says you hit someone with your car are you thinking through this whole situation. Your answer is maybe I did maybe I didn’t. Some choose to agree with the threat to take the power away. They may say, sure I totally have someone of my car.
I can only imagine the OCD screaming you just gave it that answer, that you agreed with it. Are you sure you actually love your partner? Maybe I do maybe I don’t. Are you attracted to somebody of your same gender? Maybe I am maybe I’m not. Will I harm my child? Maybe I will maybe I won’t.
There is not a topic or theme you cannot use this phrase with. Everybody thinks their special and that their specific topic or fear does not apply. To help you not ruminate, it’s committing to not engage by giving it the same answer every single time. Even if it feels real, even if you feel like this one’s different.
Some choose have different catchphrases. That’s not my thing. Sure man totally. Thank you for your opinion.
These statements need to be followed up with not engaging in the compulsions. The individuals that do the compulsions are not really committed to the maybe maybe not’s that they are saying. Because you cannot say maybe maybe not, and then go wash your hands because you’re just not sure. Or avoid the knife because you’re just not sure. Or go back and check to make sure you did hit a pedestrian because you’re just not sure. Ask for reassurance again because you’re not sure. That is the whole point. You need to be unsure. Being unsure on purpose as a way to stop the rumination.
One of the first parts is recognizing that you’re even ruminating in the first place. You might think about what is my reasoning for thinking through this right now. Am I just genuinely curious, or do I feel this urge for this need to figure out this answer right now. If it’s the urge, you’re not gonna do it, you choose not do it. Is actually your choice. The thoughts will start coming in that’s the automatic part, but you engaging with them is completely your choice. Give yourself that power.
Did you know that I created a very specific course for OCD. It takes you through understanding yourself, the treatment and a way to maintain your progress. We talk about rumination, hierarchies, exposures, writing scripts so much more. There are over 41 videos in this thing. I’ll link it in the description. You can preview you it for free.
Do you ruminate? What do you ruminate about?
Overthinking and OCD
Mental Hoarding OCD | The need to remember
How is your memory? Do you remember the important things? Do you remember the bad things have happened in your life? Do you remember small little details that really don’t matter, but your brain remembers it anyway? What if you felt the need to remember everything, and when I say everything I mean EVERY-THING. The details, It can be conversation, the way the room looked, how fast you are driving, something your boss told you, how many notifications came up on your phone, really anything your brain puts power and value to to tell you to remember. If you don’t remember everything your brain may convince you that something bad may happen. It could just be an uncomfortable feeling because of something that you don’t remember. It could just be that nagging feeling that there’s something that you forgot that you may be obsessing about because he just simply can’t remember.
It’s not just an annoying thought or feeling, it’s anxiety, it’s anxiety of the unknown, anxiety of the uncertainty. If you feel like you must remember every detail about a situation, a place, a conversation, or somebody’s life, and you feel anxious if you missed something, or if you simply just cannot remember; you may struggle with what is called memory hoarding.
So what in the world is memory hoarding? We think of the word hoarding, it’s a collection of things, a lot of things, often things that have no value or much purpose. This is the same with somebody’s memory. Our memories are actually not the best. Just by nature our mind is designed to remember things that it deems important. This is why remember negative experiences in our life, he wants us to learn from these experiences. But how often are we remembering the good? How often are we remembering the small little details? My guess would be not too often.
Memory hoarding is when an individual feels the need, the urge, anxiety to be able to remember every detail about the way they may be living their life. It can be something that was said to them. It could be a facial expression. It can be the way that their driving. It could be even the feeling of wanting to know something about someone else. They may spend a lot of time really focusing on every single moment of the day to make sure they don’t forget something. Really hyperaware of their situations. But, as we know it is impossible to remember everything and this is where the anxiety likes to live. It lives in those moments and those things that you can’t remember.
You may be thinking? Why in the world would somebody want to remember every detail about something? But here’s why, they may feel the need to review their memories to see if they hurt someone’s feelings are not, to know if they harmed somebody or not, to make sure they did not make any mistakes, to make sure you can review and see if there are good person, sometimes to make sure that the memory that they have is true or not. That it really happened.. They need the memory to help them know if the way they were feeling was accurate or not. Sometimes they don’t know why they need the memory they just know the feeling comfortable if they don’t have it. Sometimes it is just plain old, I might need to know this information in the future so just in case I’ll remember it.
This lives in the person’s mind. Hence it being a memory. A mental ritual. Which is essentially problem-solving and ruminating. They may feel like they need this memory so badly because it’s very all or nothing. If I don’t have is my life is ruined. I do remember it out prevent something bad from happening in the future.
Here are some common compulsions or individuals do. The compulsions are things that help you gain certainty in the perceived fears or threats that come to your mind.
Obviously one of the bigger ones would be focusing very hard and straining in order to commit something to your memory.
Carrying around notepads or using your phone to write down notes and details about everything.
Sometimes carrying this around with you anywhere you go just in case you need to recall this memory. People may have bags and bags full of paper of different details and memories just in case.
Reassurance seeking. Individuals may ask others with the memory they are having is accurate or not. They may ask them if they saw the same thing that they did.
Taking pictures or video. A good way to remember detail to take a picture of it. Their phone can be riddled with thousands and thousands of pictures that can be reviewed at any time.
Doing specific random things in order to remember an event or detail.
So what’s the treatment? Treatment is called exposure and response prevention. Your goal would be to reduce the compulsions you are doing down to a point where you are no longer doing them. You may be risking that you’re going to lose a memory. You actually want to lose a memory. You want to risk whatever that perceived threat is in your mind on purpose to test out the theory to see if it’s true or not. For instance if my brain says I don’t remember the thing my teacher said so if I don’t write them an email to verify I may not go to college.
Using exposure and response prevention we would definitely not send that email. You would actually work really hard to not have that memory. Allow yourself to feel uncomfortable or anxious if needed. Allow that feeling to go down all by itself without controlling it. Using a lot of maybe maybe not statements to say “I may or may not go to college we will see.” And have you risk this.
When the brain is mentally replaying situations, your quickly responding with uncertainty answers or agreeing with the threat. Something bad may or may not happen. I’m willing to take that risk and not have this memory right now. Closing times where you feel like you need that memory and you’re starting to focus, distract yourself do something so you can’t remember on purpose.
You are essentially facing your fears and responding differently to them. The compulsion’s are the things that are going to keep you trapped. But you must respond differently to the upsetting fears you have. Act like you don’t care. Get in the mindset of not wanting that memory.
Treatment For Mental Hoarding
Fear of Forgetting a memory OCD
Recovery of OCD
We talk so much about what to do when you’re in your OCD. But what about when you’re not in your OCD? What is life look like after OCD treatment? You finally feel like you’ve overcome a lot of your OCD symptoms. So what now?
Now it’s time for you to live life. To enjoy the things that OCD has robbed you of. While I want anybody going through treatment to focus their efforts on enjoying life. Many may see this as an all or nothing approach. I cannot enjoy life until OCD is gone. Stay away from this kind of thinking. There are moments where higher symptoms may come in moments where symptoms will be gone. You can live life and enjoy regardless.
What I find is that individuals who are at the end of treatment and are not feeling many symptoms describe it as kind of a strange feeling. There almost not sure what to do because the anxiety has been there guiding light for years. This told and what to do, how to think, and how to behave. All of a sudden individuals are now set free and needing to learn to live life without these anxiety prompts.
Life after OCD means learning to live in trust in yourself. Trust that anxiety was a liar this entire time. OCD completely lied and had no value. Often individuals need to learn who they are without their OCD. It feels uncomfortable. It actually takes a lot of effort to understand yourself without OCD. Just like doing and exposure individuals learn to tolerate this feeling without their OCD. It’s almost like losing a buddy that’s been with them for so long. Even though it’s wreaked havoc on their life some may feel lost without it. This is where trusting in your self goes a long way.
Individuals learn to live life again. Do things they never done before. Enjoy life and follow your value system. It is absolutely okay to feel uncomfortable after OCD treatment. This feeling will pass the more you start living and enjoying life. Ultimately you are living your life the way you want to, not the way OCD wants you to. You might start identifying goals that you want to achieve, what you want to get out of your life.
You may need to start working on self compassion. It is not your fault that you have OCD. We don’t focus on the time lost were missed because of your OCD. We focus on what you’re going to gain. Start working on any residual depression that comes your way.
We also know if you have OCD then you have OCD. So life after OCD treatment turns into maintaining the progress that you have made. Meaning, you are willing to do treatment strategies and exposure and response prevention anytime you have an intrusive thought. Anytime you feel like OCD is rearing its ugly head. So life after OCD really means life. Feeling relief, gratitude, excitement. But not forgetting about what treatment looks like and maintaining progress.
If I wanted to get really fit, I started exercising and eating healthier. I get to a point where I’m happy and content. I’m living my life. Do I stop exercising? Do I stop eating healthy? If I do I may end up in the unhappy rut I was in before. Where I might not have to try as hard to stay in this happy zone, I still need to do something to maintain the progress.
This is just like your OCD. Remember where you come and what you’ve done. Enjoy life. Have some self compassion, talk about all the successes that you’ve done and where you’re going. Focus a lot of your time on gratitude. The things that you are grateful for every single day.
Freedom from OCD
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.