Real Event OCD Anxiety Treatment
You may have had an experience of something that happened years ago. It’s possible that you forgot about it for quite a while and all of a sudden BAM, it hits you. Now you can’t stop thinking about it, you can’t stop thinking about what you’ve done. Even if it is something so small and meaningless. Your brain has all the sudden put a lot of meaning to this. You’re spending a lot of time convincing yourself you didn’t do anything wrong. This isn’t enough. Your brain replace it over and over and over again, the guilt sets in. It almost verifies that what you are experiencing must matter. The thing in the past must be rectified. You must fix this in some way, even if it is absolutely impossible to fix. Extreme anxiety and fear join the party. This past experience now consumes your life.
This is what we call real event OCD.
If you want to know more about real event OCD. I will link my video down in the description and you’ll be able to click on it here.
You may already know you struggle with real event OCD. I want to be able to help you learn how to retrain your brain and use the evidence-based treatment of exposure and response prevention. With permission from “turning point psychology” and the clinical director Anna Prudovski; I will be providing 10 tips that can help you right now with your real event OCD.
#1 - OCD is known for attacking what matters the most to us, so this is your chance to use your obsessions as a guide to understanding yourself.
Which values lie underneath your regret? What is your pain trying to tell you? What matters most to you in your life? What kind of person would you like to be? How would you like to treat yourself, others, and the world around you?
As opposed to to being consumed by your intrusive thoughts, memories, and emotions, use them to uncover your core values and start taking active steps toward them in the present instead of being consumed by the past.
This exercise is not to ruminate in the past. It’s not to problem solve whatever it is that you did. Instead this is focusing on you right now. What your values are, who you are as a person, and allowing your brain to move forward instead of going backwards.
#2 - Start making a list of what gets neglected while you continue being entangled in the battle with your mind.
Is being consumed by the past preventing you from having a present? Do you find that being hooked by your thoughts prevents you from taking effective action toward your goals? Are you spending so much time in your head that you don’t feel present or engaged in the moment with people you care about and in doing what you love? What would you be doing differently if you could put your memories aside and reengage with what matters to you in your life?
Make a list, put it somewhere visible, and use it for motivation in the moments where your OCD tries to hijack your attention by making you compulse.
3. Every time you have an urge to check, ruminate, neutralize, reassure, or do any other compulsion – ask yourself, “If I let these thoughts and emotions determine what I do in the next few minutes or an hour, will it get me closer to the person I want to be or will it move me even further away?”
Think about how powerful this is. Your living life right now. The compulsions were only to keep you trapped. It seems important, I get it. What do you know what is more important. Living life right now, feeling joy, looking towards the future.
4. Put a visible reminder somewhere that OCD is the issue, not your past event.
We tend to put so much power and value to past experiences and events when really all filters down to the same thing. OCD and uncertainty. The past event, no matter what it is can be seen as OCD. The OCD thinks it’s protecting you when really it’s your job to retrain your brain to show that you don’t need that protection. You’ll find that it wasn’t protecting you from anything.
5. Practice self-compassion.
This is not the same as forgiveness (which, in your case, most likely will just constitute another compulsion).
Self-compassion is acknowledging that you are suffering. You can remind yourself that suffering is a common human experience and is a part of life. Give yourself a moment of kindness without reassuring yourself.
(Yes, yes, I know: your OCD will probably tell you that you don’t deserve kindness. Or that the kindness is another way to trick yourself into thinking you didn’t do anything wrong. Please treat this thought just like every other obsession – let it be… and continue practicing self-compassion)
6. Do not try to get rid of your thoughts and emotions. They will come and go at their own time. Let them be and redirect your attention toward taking a step toward something that is important to you (not to your OCD). Don’t wait for the difficult emotions to subside to move forward in life. You can have them and still live your life the way you choose to in the present.
7. Ban rumination. Rumination is a compulsion. It deserves none of your attention. It’s wanting you to problem solve and you don’t problem with anxiety anymore. You don’t “problem solve the past.” Don’t give it any attention or power. As thoughts come, you can answer them with, “totally” or “maybe, maybe not.”
Even trying to figure out whether it is really OCD is an example of rumination.
8. This is a tough one. The only way to recover from OCD is to be willing to live with the fact that your scary thoughts may be right.
WAIT, WHAT DID YOU JUST SAY?
That’s right, your scary thoughts may be right. It doesn’t mean that you accept that they ARE right. It just means that you accept to NOT know. To not problem solve to know.
As long as you continue living with the hope that you will have certainty about the past, the future, and the kind of person you are, OCD will continue to have a grip on you. Yes, the thoughts about what you did and what kind of an immoral human being you may be are horrific. But these are thoughts. Not facts. (don’t use this as a compulsion). Hold them lightly. All our thoughts may or may not be true. As long as we don’t take them too seriously, we have the freedom to live our life. Allow the uncertainty to be there and continue with your day.
9. Seek treatment. Your OCD will, of course, tell you that treatment will not help, that you will be judged, that going to therapy is just an excuse to avoid repenting, that nobody can possibly understand what you are going through, that the shame will be unbearable, that your OCD is very different from other OCDs and that, of course, it may not even be a real OCD.
Just like with the other thoughts, hold these thoughts lightly and don’t allow them to sway you from getting your life back.
10. Make sure that your therapist specializes in OCD and practices ERP (Exposure and Response Prevention) and ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy).
This is crucial. Seeing somebody whose method of treatment is CBT but who doesn’t mention ERP as their treatment approach on their website or in your phone conversation is not enough. Not all CBT is applicable for OCD and the therapist needs to know a very special way of using CBT for the treatment of OCD.
Don’t see a coach. They tend to charge less and use words like, “cure” “overcome forever” or “fully recover” making it sound very enticing. I mean, I’d want to go to them. Don’t fall for it. See a true specialist.
Treat My Real Event OCD
Anxiety From Past Mistakes
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.