Three Steps to Being Your Own Compassionate Coach when OCD Keeps You Stuck

For many, there are intense feelings of shame once the obsessions or compulsions subside for a moment. It might sound like, “There must be something very wrong with me if I had that thought,” or “Why would I imagine something so horrible?”, or even “Why can’t I stop feeling this compulsion and move on?” ?” Whatever variation of Something’s Wrong With Me your OCD brain offers you, we all know the end result. Feelings of shame and guilt, frustration, sadness, guilt. Shame makes you feel stuck, anxious, and doubting the person you really are.

Instead of beating yourself up for feeling anxious about OCD symptoms, you can rewire your brain to help reduce self-critical thoughts and compassionately comfort the parts of yourself that are struggling. You don’t have to add another layer of suffering to the already existing pain. Here are three steps to approach your OCD brain with compassion:

  1. Acknowledge your suffering: this hurts a lot right now.

If you can, identify your painful feelings. This may be difficult for some, and that’s okay. Instead, focus on your experience: what is happening to you right now?

  • This might sound like:
  • I’m struggling right now.
  • It’s really difficult to accept this.
  • I feel so anxious that I feel it everywhere in my body.
  • My brain is trapped in these thoughts and they distract me.
  • I can’t stop thinking about this: it’s painful.
  • It’s hard to feel all this shame, guilt and sadness.
  • This is uncomfortable.

It’s important to validate your experience: it already happened. You can remind yourself that it’s as if the OCD brain is holding up a huge sign with flashing lights and blaring its message through a megaphone; he really wants to make sure he gets your attention (otherwise, OCD says, the consequences could be dire or total). of discomfort that you can’t handle). And this signal feels so heightened, uncomfortable, and disturbing right now. Instead of fighting or avoiding the noisy signal that is there anyway, you can Name it to tame itphrase coined by Dr. Dan Siegel.

2. Gently remind yourself that everyone has intrusive thoughts.

It’s part of the human experience. Normalize your experience: You may feel like you are the only one having these unwanted thoughts. Remember that you are not alone. At this point, your experience of these thoughts or self-narratives has intensified. Our brains conjure up many thoughts and images to protect you from harm, whether they feel completely random or can be clearly linked to your core beliefs and fears. The problem is that you are reacting to a false alarm. In these moments, instead of protecting, you just need to arm yourself with helpful and compassionate training to guide you through the distress.

3. Return to where you are, exactly as you are. Stick to the facts.

Take a moment of attention. Give your brain a quick break from dealing with all the noise. The goal is not to stay 100% in the moment; rather try to work on the ability to shift your attention from noisy self-criticism to the present moment. Some helpful 30-second mindfulness moments may include:

  • Name all the things that are shaped like circles or any other shape around you.
  • Name all the things that are blue or any other color around you.
  • 3-3-3: Name 3 things you see, 3 things you hear, 3 things you can touch.
  • Place your hands on your stomach and take 3 deep breaths. Focus on your hands moving up and down.
  • Do a quick stretch or yoga pose focusing on where you feel the stretch.

Notice that even for 30 seconds, you were only focused on the present moment. You probably weren’t thinking about what you had for lunch yesterday or what you’ll have for dinner tonight. The idea is that you probably also gave less attention to that self-critical voice in your head, even if just for a moment.

Sometimes clients may show resistance to self-pity. There are some misconceptions about shame and self-criticism. Some think that if you don’t feel shame, you are okay with your intrusive thoughts or that your own narrative about who you are is, in fact, true. Others may feel that it is a deserved punishment for having such disturbing thoughts (as if they can even control them). Or punishment for being stuck in a cycle of compulsions that you know you “shouldn’t” be doing (as if you’d choose not to stop it if it were that easy). This myth is based on the idea that if we punish ourselves with reminders of shame, perhaps we can create change. We forget that anxiety keeps us stuck in this cycle; You don’t want to be here. If we add more layers of distress, such as shame, to the anxiety already present, we now have fewer mental resources to break out of the OCD cycle.

Being your own Compassionate Coach doesn’t have to be full of exaggerated positivity. The goal is to provide yourself with well-deserved understanding and comfort through emotionally painful experiences. It helps you stay realistic, grounded in the present moment, and offers perspective that can help you step away from all that OCD noise and live a meaningful life. By spending less time and mental energy on shame and self-criticism, you’ll be better able to focus on the important moments in your life.

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