Dear Soft Hearted Loves,
In our first part of the series on tips for folx with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) we talked about noting the obsession and using our parasympathetic nervous system to the fullest. We have this built in coping or survival strategy in our breathing and meditation that helps our parasympathetic nervous system bring us back from escalated, intrusive, and obsessive thoughts. In the second article of our series we discussed noting and not getting engaged with the back and forth between the inner critic and inner defender parts.
Now I’d like to discuss more noting. The more awareness folx who I serve with OCD get, the better they feel. This tip has to do with noting OCD corrections. When someone has an obsession or compulsion, much like a burp, they may try to hide it or have it come out in a quieter way. When someone attempts to do an OCD correction, their intrusive or obsessive thought may bounce out some other type of way or come out later. In fact, it may make the loop longer and more charged to try and regulate it. It can help to simply observe when the obsessions arises and note or observe when your attempt to change the obsession arises.
For example, someone may have an obsessive thought that they are going to harm a child or partner. In order to “correct” that thought one may attempt to mitigate through an OCD correction by thinking of kicking in the door. Folx without OCD may misunderstand this as aggression or anger, but this OCD correction may have served to mitigate the person’s fear around their first thought of harming their loved one. This comes from a place of thinking the thoughts are wrong and need to be corrected. You do not need to be corrected and you are innately good as you are. I get that there is no good and bad, but some of us who have felt shame for these intense thoughts need to hear we’re good or okay to heal. You are okay and correct as you are even with the most difficult, hurtful, or scary OCD thoughts. You are not your thoughts and cognitively we cannot control our first thought or our automatic thought.
So the next time a thought that is very bothersome arises and you notice yourself trying to mitigate it, I want you to praise yourself for this noticing. That means you are changing and shifting for more and more healing. Great job for noticing!
Next week we’ll discuss one more helpful tip on how to approach this tough OCD. We’ll focus on support/connection for more and more healing, acceptance, and feeling better overall.