Common Treatment Mistakes - Trying to Figure out OCD
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In this new series, we are going to discuss the most common mistakes in OCD treatment. If you’re suffering from OCD, then you know how tempting it is to try and “figure out” whatever you are worried about. The problem is OCD presents us with questions that generally will never have a clear-cut answer. And the harder we try to figure it out and the more information we get, the most confused and lost we feel.
So in this new series, join me as I explain some of the most Common Treatment Mistakes for OCD Treatment. I hope this helps in your journey to overcoming OCD and helps you let go of the belief that OCD is untreatable.
All right. Hey there. And welcome to another episode of the stress and anxiety show. My name is Matt Codde and I'm a licensed clinical social worker and I specialize in OCD and anxiety. And so on this episode, I want to talk about another common mistake that I see people fall in when it comes to their recovery from, uh, you know, OCD, anxiety, and other stress related disorders. And that specific, um, mistake that we're going to talk about in this episode is the idea of trying to solve or figure out whatever it is that you're afraid of. And so, um, before we go, uh, into that, uh, if you could please do me a huge favor and just, um, show your support by liking and subscribing, I would really appreciate that. Um, but as we, as we dive into this idea today, so one of the problems that happens with anxiety is that the mind starts running really, really fast, right?
And that energy really, really picks up in the mind. And what happens is, is that, um, you know, the, the person will engage in activities like rumination and analization to try to solve whatever it is that they're afraid of now on, on normal, um, instances, you know, like that, that's a, that's a helpful skill, right? You know, so if you have a, let's say a part of your planning and you have to coordinate things using that part of your mind to solve that is, is, you know, is reasonable. It's a, it's the right thing to do, right? You're solving a specific problem. The problem with OCD and anxiety is that often it comes up with, you know, what if thoughts that are impossible to solve. So for instance, like, you know, the idea of what if I get cancer one day, what if, um, you know, a loved one gets hurt?
What if, you know, it comes up with these, what if thoughts that we'll never be able to solve? What if I go to hell? What if I lost my salvation? What if I get AIDS? What if I, you know, spontaneously, um, you know, fall out of love with my spouse, right. And what happens is, is these questions then stimulate the, the stress response, right? And that's, that's what we determine as psychological stress, right? Has our brains ability to come up with a potential thing right. In the future that we can never really be certain of. And then our body is reacting to it as a threat right now. And this is the problem with things like OCD and anxiety is that we're reacting to a threat that doesn't currently exist. And so all this energy that our body's producing with the stress response without fight or flight response, that energy has nowhere to go.
Right. You know, because there's nothing to fight or flight, right. There's, there's nothing to actually resolve. So then what are, what we do is we then go inward and go into kind of more thinking and ruminating, which is a behavior that reinforces the fear in the first place. And we try to figure it out. Right. And this is, you know, what a lot of people will send emails and comments and, um, and, and all sorts of questions like, you know, well, how do you know, or how can I be sure. And, and, you know, w w with the goal intention of each of these questions to quote, figure it out, I just need to figure it out. I need to know for sure about my salvation, about my sexuality, about, you know, if I won't ever hit someone with my car, um, about my relationship, am I really in love?
Right. You know, like when it comes to relationship, Oh, city, am I, is this really the one? How can you be sure. Right. And so they try to figure it out. And the problem is, is that the more and more you try to figure something out that doesn't have an answer, the more and more confusion that it brings. Usually, you know, it's very rare that, um, the deeper and deeper you go down that rabbit hole, what usually happens is the more and more chaos ensues. Right. And, you know, I think, uh, it was Mark Freeman who, who posts a lot of, uh, great content on YouTube as well. Um, you know, he said, he said it, and I, and I just, I just remember it stuck with me, but he said, you can't, out-think a thinking problem. Right. And, and that idea of the more and more words, trying to use thinking to solve the exact thing, that's the problem of thinking the, the more that counteracts and just does not go well together.
Right. Um, it's like throwing gas on a fire. It just kind of makes things worse. And what we need to realize is that thinking about it is actually the problem. And let me go ahead and explain that. So when we're worrying about an event that we don't know if it will happen in the future, right. The only thing that we can actually do is to live right now. Right. You know, because there's a, not only do we not know if that events can happen, but there's actually a million other things that your mind didn't come up with, it could also happen that you're not worrying about. And there's also a million other things that your mind has said in the past, that what if this happened to they never had, right. And all that energy that we're using to try to control the future, be certain about the future.
What it does is it takes us out of the present. It takes us out of our lives right now. Right. And this is the problem with anxiety is that it can, we can live our whole life like this. We can live today worrying about tomorrow, tomorrow worrying about the next day. And we can just keep going like that. In fact, there's many people that all day long, right. Yeah. You know, it's just, it's just the next thing, the next thing, the next thing. Right. And the more and more we do that, the less and less we're actually living. Right. Yeah. And, and here is really just a question, I guess I would pose to you, um, if, if this is something that you, you wrestle with. Right. Because it's important to me because here's, here's the, I think the myth that people live in, um, and, and I did this too, so this is not like a critique, right?
The police this from the place of like, I live like this for a long time. And so having like the first step to breaking out of it is realizing, right. And that's kind of the, the whole point of this, of this episode is to help you kind of realize that and, and literally start to break out of it. Um, and because when you're living your life out of fear and trying to resolve an internal emotion within yourself, right. Stress, a lot of people do all these behaviors and they think that they're in, in control of their life and they're making these choices consciously. But the reality is when you're making a choice to resolve an internal state, that you, you know, that was just spontaneously kind of happened. You're not really in control. Right. You're just, you're just responding, right. You're reacting to something that's going on in your body and you're trying to neutralize it.
And that's kind of what goes on from day to day, when someone has contamination fears, they touch something, they get afraid. So they're watching, they're like, well, I'm choosing to wash. And it's like, well, are you, you know, are you, would you really choose your life? If you had to draw it out perfectly like to be washing for two, three, four hours a day, you know, would you choose your life to be worrying all the time while you're driving, you know, about work and then getting to work and then worrying about the next day and just spending all this energy worrying and analyzing and analyzing. And, you know, if we're really honest with ourselves, you know, most of us probably wouldn't draw it up like that if we had the choice. And the thing is we do have the choice. And, and part of it is, is realizing all the things we're doing to try to figure out, um, the things that we're afraid of.
Um, especially like the things in the major, major topics of fear and anxiety, um, the things that we'll never be able to see, all that energy is something that we can put into things that we really want to add to our relationships, you know, to projects we want, you know, we can actually stop putting energy into it and stop feeding it. And the more and more we try to figure out whatever it is that we're trying to figure out, that we can, that, you know, that uncertainty, that we're holding onto the worse and worse that's going to get. And that's that trap that people fall into is if I just had this answer, if I just figured this out, then I'll be okay. And it's never enough. I mean, it really is like an addiction. It's just insane. It's an insatiable thirst, or it's an unquenchable thirst, right?
The more you get, the more you want and in the more questions that pop up after that. And actually that's what we're going to talk about in our next episode is just the different layers that, um, that, you know, OCD and anxiety goes to and how the, you know, the next strap we're going to talk about is the idea of, of kind of doing well on the first layer, but falling for the next, the second and third layers. And so, um, but you know, I hopefully you found this helpful. I mean, so just to kind of quickly recap the, the whole idea of this episode, right? It's, it's really this idea of giving up, trying to figure it out, right? The mistake that people fall into is trying to figure out something that can never be figured out instead of just letting living with uncertainty like everyone else does.
And when we're able to live with uncertainty, we can start to habituate to those feelings. Those feelings will start to drop on their own, and it will begin to see the problem from a whole new perspective. But when we're in that lens of fear, we got to realize that we're not really seeing things, how they really are and we're, and we're actually not living life, how we really want to live it for the most cases. And so in, in getting honest with that as important, um, you know, to, to really make sure that we start to live the kind of life we want to live. So hopefully that makes sense. And hopefully you found that helpful. And, um, again, we'd really appreciate your support by liking and subscribing. And also we have some additional resources for you on this journey [email protected] In fact, we have some links right down below in the notes, um, that will take you some free downloads, free additional trainings. Um, and then also we have our, you know, um, higher level services with our coaching, you know, our in, in our lives zoom calls that we do with our communities, um, and all of that. So, um, thank you so much for taking the time to hang out with, uh, with me today. Wish you guys a great week and I will see us soon.