How to deal with OCD urges – From one patient to another

I originally wrote this list for myself, and then I realized it would be extremely useful to others out there who are looking to treat these triggers. Here are my 10 tips for succeeding in your OCD treatment.

  1. Never seek reassurance from yourself or others.  Consider telling yourself the worst has already happened, is happening, or is about to happen. No matter how you may try to justify it, reassurance-seeking is infact a compulsion.
  2. Always try hard to agree with all obsessive thoughts — never analyze, question, or argue with them.  These questions do not have real answers, and neither do the questions they raise.  When agreeing, try to not look too deep into it — simply acknowledge that the thoughts are valid and real.
  3. Don’t waste time trying to prevent or not think your thoughts. This could only cause the complete opposite effect that would lead to thinking more negativity. It has been shown that you cannot effectively stop or suppress particular thoughts.  I read this somewhere one time and it is now a motto I try to go by, “If you want to think about them less, think about them more.”
  4. Try to not be an all-or-nothing thinker — don’t convince yourself that one slip up means you are now a total failure (guilty of this myself) ; however, continue reminding yourself that you can always turn it around and do something to cancel it. Remember, the good news is that you are in this for the long haul, which means you will always get another chance.  It’s very normal to make mistakes and it happens to everyone now and again. Accept it.  Even when you have a big setback, don’t let it throw you off. In other words, don’t forget the saying, “A lapse is not a relapse.”  To do that, you would have to forget everything you have learned up to that point, and that really isn’t possible.  
  5. As hard as this sounds, try to not get too impatient with your progress, or compare yourself to others.  Everyone’s at their own pace.  Take it one day at a time, and focus on the progress you make each day.
  6. Perfectionism can be another feature of OCD so don’t let it side-track your progress.  You run the risk of turning your obsession with doing your homework perfectly into another compulsion if you obsess over it.  Make sure you don’t keep doing your homework according to rigid rules every time.  Likewise, don’t focus on doing your daily homework all day to the point that it consumes your entire day.  
  7. Always remember that you do have OCD. Understand that this means you’re not always going to trust your reactions or your thoughts and feelings, especially if they seem to be telling you extremely negative things.  If you are unsure if something is really a symptom, treat it as one.  It’s always better to do a bit more exposure than not enough.
  8. Remember that in OCD — the problem is the compulsions, not the anxiety 

You will only do more compulsions to get rid of “anxiety” if you think it is the problem (which will only result in more anxiety).  Instead, if you feel the compulsions are the problem – try to be mindful and stop them instantly and eventually the anxiety will go away as you build up your tolerance to these triggers.

  1. Take a second every now and then to be proud of your own conscious efforts and recognize your success.  It’s an amazing way to help keep your motivation up.
  2. Overall, don’t forget that OCD is paradoxical and rarely makes much sense. All the things that you thought would make you better, could make you worse and vice versa.

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