Comprehensive Treatment for Primarily Obsessional OCD
By Dr. Christian R. Komor
OCD Recovery Center
Part 5: Meditations and Affirmations
Statistics suggest that even with carefully targeted medication and cognitive-behavioral therapy, a substantial percentage of OCD-Spectrum patients do not receive substantial relief from symptoms. It becomes important, then, to develop technologies for long-term self-care and lifestyle management. One such tool is the use of daily meditations.
Meditations and affirmations can serve multiple roles. They can act as reminders of skills that one is developing through the exposure and response prevention behavior therapy process. They can reduce feelings of isolation and hopelessness. They can assist in developing and embracing new perspectives on living without the protection of OCD anxiety reduction behaviors. They can assist in keeping a steady pace in the recovery process.
Here are a few of the affirmations we have found helpful for our clients with OCD-Spectrum disorders. We recommend choosing several and carrying them in a wallet or purse for ready use when OCD strikes.
- OCD recovery is like a diet. When we act on a compulsion (to eat or perform a ritual) we are practicing avoidance of (anxiety). The result is for the anxiety to grow stronger (or our stomach to grow bigger!).
- You can't put out fire with gasoline.
- Serenity Prayer: "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."
- Remember that OCD and spectrum disorders are diseases in the brain not of character. We all have within us a "good dog" and a "bad dog." The one we feed is the one that becomes the strongest. Don't feed the OCD dog and it will grow weaker.
- To beat OCD is to choose live with uncertainty.
- Good and bad things will happen in life and, yes, we all die eventually. The only choice for those of us with OCD is whether to spend the life we have as a slave to OCD - or as a free, spontaneous person.
- See that your OCD can potentially connect you to a greater spirituality and provide a opening for self discovery.
- Trust God...and tie your camel! Know the difference between what you can do something about and what it is best to let go of.
- Surrender to the anxiety feeling. Feel it and it will get tired of bothering you.
- Recovery is about trust. The antidote for the holding-on-fear-of-everything-syndrome is really trusting (God, the Universe, your Higher Power).
- Notice how you do something and then think "Oh, I did that without OCD. Maybe..." and then the OCD comes. Instead just keep going and don't get into that loop!
- Don't do the behavior AND trigger your relaxation response (explore ways of doing this).
- Get anxiety under control before OCD happens!
- Thoughts do not make reality and feelings aren't facts.
- If your magical thinking was real then the rest of the world's population would be dead!
- Giving in to "shoulds" leads to OCD.
- Admitting powerlessness over OCD is the 1st Step.
- Obsessions live in the future and the past. Keep your mind in the Now!
- Validation and affirmation are needed and important.
- What works one time may not the next. You may have to alternate interventions.
- Find a neutral zone, or safe place you can recenter in and use it.
- Remember, OCD is the anxiety part of the pie and has nothing to do with real illness or real death or real disasters.
- You can't stop bad things with your rituals. Life is inherently risky.
- Live on the Universe's plan - which is always simple.
- Too much compulsive control leads to being out of control. If you fear suffering you are already suffering.
- OCD is a guide to learning about self-ownership.
- OCD is not related to illness. You have a disease and it's OCD. You also have a body and it has both health and ill health. OCD does not protect you from illness. There is no connection.
- If you give in to the OCD it ruins the time you do have to live your life.
- You can NEVER do ANY "good" OCD behaviors - half measures avail nothing. It cannot be that ALL the compulsions are real can it?
- It's SELF-CARE+BEHAVIOR THERAPY+BIOLOGY that creates healing.
- Say, "It's a brain disorder. It's a false message coming from my brain"
- Do not resist. Develop a "spectator" approach. Say "It's not me it's the OCD." Call it what it really is - an obsessive symptom. It's not a real feeling, or need.
- OCD is just a medical symptom. It's too strong to resist unless you know what it really is. It doesn't go away because it is medical.
- ENJOY breaking the OCD barriers deliberately!
- Remember some of us get manic-like when we come out from under the OCD-depression and start to feel our spontaneous energy again. At such times - go slow and stay connected.
- Say "I can do it in 15 minutes if I still need to." Then move on. Do something else instead.
- Others around you do not have to do these rituals to be ok so you don't either!
- You didn't always have to do these rituals so why should you now?
- Don't wait to feel like the desire is gone to not do the behavior! Your behavior will never change if you wait for the urge to change first.
- Change your behavior so that the feeling/urge will change.
- Temporary discomfort is the price of freedom. Keep going forward.
- OCD does not protect against bad results. Self-care and relaxation does.
- There is no quick easy solution. Take the long-term road of not giving in versus the quick fix that OCD offers.
- Escaping risk leads to greater (real) risk. There is often less danger in the things we fear than in the things we desire.
- Refuse to act on an obsession and it will die of inaction.
- You can't have your symptoms and behaviors and have your life.
- Paradoxes are the major reason for getting stuck in OCD.
- OCD recovery is measured by living according to your values.
- Change occurs when one loves what one is not when one becomes what one is not.
- OCD will isolate you. You have to choose between OCD and a happy life and relationships. Treat OCD as an opponent in your pursuit of happiness and fight against it daily.
At the OCD Recovery Center we encourage all OC sufferers to carry with them a "Recovery Card" which summarizes important information about their self-care and practices and procedures that have worked for them in their recovery. A sample outline is included on the following page.
Finally, in recovery from O-OCD is it important to learn to fill the void left by receding obsessions must often be considered a task in itself. When obsessions have taken up a large part of a person's life and consciousness important life areas such as career, relationships, self-image and time management will all have adapted to the presence of the obsessions. It may also be necessary to learn to distinguish between true feelings and obsessive feelings. (Feelings tend to follow from thoughts rather than the other way around. Does the individual really dislike music or is that feeling a result of the obsessive thoughts about music?)
It may be helpful to sit down with a counselor and make a careful examination of each life area and how it has been affected and what positive changes now need to be made in behavior and self-image. Positive self-talk, giving oneself verbal reminders that it is OK to enjoy life in the now, is often a critical part of this process of re-acclimation. Above all, make sure that the individual provides themselves with rewards and positive feedback for any and all progress dealing with obsessions. Remember, obsessions can be very, very strong and powerful. Be kind to the OC sufferer.
Appendix I: Special Instructions for Massed Exposure Exercise >>