Ride up and down the worry hill. This is a sheet that was given to me in OCD therapy to explain the nature of the work we would be doing. OCD is all about a thought making us anxious and us doing things to get rid of the thought. Makes sense, right? Don’t like what you’re thinking, get rid of it.
Reality, trying to get rid if something only reinforces it in your brain, thus making the thoughts stronger. And now we are caught in a vicious cycle, trying to get rid of a thought that keeps reemerging stronger and stronger the more focus we have on it. The solution: Focus on the very thing you have been trying to avoid. What? You mean you want me to be anxious? Yup. Sorry to say, but the only way is through. We must follow the wisdom of meditation and allow the thoughts without reacting. Yes, I know I know easier said than done. Way easier!
Think about it. If I questioned if I turned the lights off I might say, “yes I did” and leave it at that because that’s not what my OCD focuses on. However, in my case years ago if I wondered if my partner was the right one, I would go into spirals thinking about my past, analyzing me feelings when I was with my partner, and wondering if I was attracted to or “should be” dating every single person I passed on the street because I was scared of my own feelings for the one person I was with and didn’t trust someone would love me. (there is always a deeper fear that everyone must get to the core of for personal recovery).
My solution, my therapist said, think all of these things and make myself anxious…ride the wave. I would tell myself, “yes I am with the wrong person and I need to break up with her and go date.” Did I want to date? Nope, but the thought being there made me anxious and made me feel like I wasnt living my life “right.” I felt like I had lost my independence and wanted to date “all these people” when I had never been a dater in the first place. At the time, I had no idea what was going on and I let the thoughts consume me. “Oh well maybe I should be with person-I-dont-know-on-the-street-who-just-happened-to-walk-by. Oh well maybe I am not sure I am truly feeling the love that I feel and it might “feel” different with someone else.”
I was told I had to face these thoughts! I was shocked that I had to convince myself that I was in the wrong relationship when those are the thoughts that had been keeping me up all night, causing issues between my partner and I, and making me feel like a horrible person. I had to allow them to be there to see the irrational way of thinking versus solely just allowing them trigger me. Riding this wave of worry is all about WHEN you face the thoughts you are tortured by, WHEN you touch the door 9 times instead of 10, WHEN you prevent yourself from checking the stoev again before bed. You MUST endure the anxiety and the LET IT PASS. Ride it up and ride it down without giving in.
THIS IS HARD. I am not going to lie to you but it is worth it. This is a chance to sit with those feelings and allow yourself to really see the irrational cycle we have gotten ourselves in. Maybe you can’t ride the wave all the way the first time and when the anxiety feels like you can’t handle anymore, you check the stove. THAT IS OK! Kudos for trying. Write it down, journal it, and try again another time. You will get there but I promise you, trust this process!