OCD Treatment - How Do I Stop My Thoughts?

intrusive thoughts Jun 27, 2018

OCD Treatment - How Do I Stop My Thoughts?


In this video, I talk about a question I hear all the time - how do I stop unwanted and intrusive thoughts? In this training I explain why trying to stop your thoughts actually will make them appear on a higher frequency. I also talk about different techniques you should consider if you are struggling with unwanted or intrusive thoughts.

Video Transcript

00:00 All right, hello and welcome to part three of this free training where I'm, I'm gonna just talk about ocd, OCD treatment, ocd recovery, and uh, I'm really trying to answer some of the main questions that I get from clients on a day to day basis. And so in this particular training, I'm going to talk about this idea of how do I stop bad thoughts, right? This is a question that I get nearly everyday and um, it's, it's a question that is, is really important because when you're first starting out in recovery that that seems to be everyone's main goal. Like how do I stop the thoughts that I'm having, right? I don't like the thoughts I want them to go away because when I have them I get anxious and then when I get anxious to do compulsion's, when I do compulsion's, I get trapped in this loop.

00:41 So if I make the thoughts go away, you know, all these problems should be resolved. That's obviously the kind of the logic that goes into it. And, um, and while it's good logic and it's sound as far as like a problem solving, the thing is, is that OCD doesn't operate in logic, right? And so, um, how we actually address thoughts is by addressing how we react to them so that we don't reinforce the idea that the thought is good or bad or dangerous or whatever. And then by us not reacting to it, um, what we do is we then habituate to the idea of experiencing the thought or the anxiety the thought generates. And then what then happens is that our brain learns that that thought not really important. It doesn't, we don't need to be worried about it so that the thoughts ultimately diminished.

01:27 So it's kind of backwards how we attack it, but ultimately we have the most control over our behavior, right? Because when we talk about this idea of trying to control your thoughts or control how you feel, the reality is that human beings, we just don't have that capability to control every thought that pops in our head or control every emotion we experience because, um, a lot of things are triggered externally. Yeah. In which is, you know, obviously beyond our control, so part of the treatment processes is we want to focus on what we can control and because you know, the question of how do I stop my thoughts are, how do I stop these bad thoughts? How do I get rid of these thoughts a here all the time. I'm. One of the things that I want to talk about is some of the study that was really interesting that was done about this idea of white bears.

02:11 And so in the late eighties, early nineties, I'm a social psychologist by the name of Daniel Wagner. Did these studies on, um, he would have his participants get into a room and he would basically tell them the following. He would say, okay, look for the next, let's say 10 minutes, I don't know the exact time, but you're not allowed to think of a white bear. You can do anything else but don't think of a white bear. And what he found is that even you can try it right now. Wherever you are, you can close your eyes real quick. Um, you know, and just kind of, you know, hey, try not to think of a white bear for the next five seconds and what you'll find is that the more and more you try to not have a thought or try to push thoughts away, that ultimately it actually creates those thoughts more and more in your head.

02:55 So you experienced some more. So exactly what you're doing to try to stop the thoughts is actually making the thoughts come back more and more, you know. And so, um, and that's exactly what Daniel Wagner found in this study is, or the white bear is participants kept saying how the more they tried not to think about the white bear, the more the thought popped up in their head. And again, one of the things I want to point out about the study is the white bears were pretty, you know, neutral as far as the kind of thoughts that they were having, right? They didn't provoke any anxiety or whatnot. So when we talk about ocd and we have thoughts that are extremely anxiety provoking, are extremely painful to experience, you know, trying to push those thoughts away, even amplifies that, uh, that's uh, you know, um, kind of, what's the word I'm looking for?

03:40 That kind of phenomenon as well. Right? And so when we talk about trying to push thoughts away, we need to realize that that's actually going to make them worse, which is gonna Increase Ocd, which is gonna increase anxiety and your, um, you know, your desire to do compulsion's as well. So that is one of the key things that I want to point out in this training is that by trying to stop dots, you're actually going to make them worse. So one of the things in order to stop thoughts. So the paradox is by accepting thoughts and not reacting to them in compulsive ways, what we ultimately do is we train our brain to understand that these aren't thoughts we need to be worried about. These are the thoughts that are threatening and because your brain is designed in a way to serve you and to do things to help you, um, you know, the, the thoughts themselves will ultimately decrease the more accepting we become of them.

04:32 So that's this huge paradox with ocd is this idea that if you want to stop your thoughts, you, you almost have to be willing to accept their presence in the first place and not try to stop them. Right? And you can't do this whole thing where you're like, okay, I'm going to accept it so that it goes away because that doesn't work either because again, you're still doing something and try to make it go away. And, and I guess the point I want to make in this particular training is that trying to control your thoughts and trying to suppress them is a compulsion and it's actually going to make them worse. And so one of the things that, uh, you know, we need to do in order to address thoughts that we don't like or feelings that we don't want to have has actually become more accepting of their presence.

05:13 And stop trying to control and push and, and suppress them so that we actually allow ourselves to experience them and we habituate to their presence and that we learned that they're not something that we need to react to. And by doing that, then you'll see their presence slowly diminish over time because they're not going to be something that you need to push away. And so hopefully that makes sense. I know there's a lot to unpack there, but to really summarize this, this whole, uh, this whole training is really the idea that the more you try to push thoughts away, the more you're going to experience them. And you can read up and remember the white bear study of trying to push that thought away and realizing that by pushing thoughts away, actually gonna make things worse. But were you actually the more accepting you become of their presence in the, uh, the lesson?

06:03 Unless you try to do anything about them, the less and less you'll ultimately experience some down the road. And so that concludes this little section of the training. And then again, if you liked this, please be sure to subscribe. Like the video comment below, um, and then, um, I will see you over in the next part of the training. Also, I have some resources that I've linked below, so be sure to click on those or visit my [email protected] We have some more resources to help you on your journey to recovery from ocd. So I'll see you over in the next training.