Video Summary – The 10 Steps for Overcoming Obsessive & Intrusive Thoughts
Two questions that often come my way are….
How do I Stop Obsessive or Intrusive Thoughts?
And How do I successfully overcome OCD?
Since the answers to these two questions are very similar, but at the same time a little complex….. I have decided to create a series of posts and videos to hopefully offer some helpful information and guidance towards a solution.
Now this post is actually just going to be an introduction into what I believe are the 10 major steps to achieving Victory Over Obsessive & Intrusive thoughts.
And after this post, I’m going to create a follow-up post and video for each of the individual steps (which you can reach by clicking on the links)
So to start off Step Number One is to Develop The Proper Mindset
Now what I mean by that is when you are overcoming Obsessive/Intrusive Thoughts you really have think of it like fighting a battle or a war, and you have to develop a mindset that you are going to win that fight and drive these Obsessive Thoughts out of your life. You have to believe that you are going to stand victorious at the end of this road no matter what.
You see one of the worst things that I see happen to people is they get in this mindset of being a victim. People get this “woe is me” attitude and begin to believe that overcoming Obsessive/Intrusive thoughts is impossible. But if you have the mindset that this task is impossible then it is going to be very tough to maintain the motivation to keep fighting. However, if you develop the mindset that you can overcome this…. and that you will overcome it, that will greatly increase your chances of success.
2. This brings us to Step Number Two which is Breaking Away From Labels.
One of the worst things that Western Society likes to do is label, and “pathologize” people. And one of the primary diagnoses issued out for people dealing with Obsessive and Intrusive Thoughts is “OCD”. Now I firmly believe that OCD is a very serious condition and it can be extremely painful for people who experience it.
But If you suffer from Obsessive Thoughts or “OCD” it is important to realize that your anxiety, fear, and thoughts are really just but a fraction of who you are as an individual. There are so many aspects of your life that come together and intersect to form you as individual. So I really want to drive home the point of breaking away from labels because I believe labeling people does more harm than good. When you label someone with a Mental Illness it promotes this ideology of over identifying with that particular illness. Which is why the second step is really about breaking away from those labels that you put on yourself or someone else has put on you, and starting to re-identify who you really are.
3. This brings us to Step Number Three which is Developing Your Dreams.
If you are struggling with Obsessive/Intrusive Thoughts then you know that they can really drain the passion and excitement from your life. That is exactly why developing your dreams is so important. To be clear, Dreams are different from Goals, dreams are something that are very personal and backed by passion and excitement. Whereas goals, are often set by the expectations of other people or society. For instance, it might be your goal to “graduate high school” or “graduate college” or “get a great job” or “buy a house” or whatever….. But dreams are something more than just milestones….dreams ignite a passion and excitement in your life which is why they are so important for achieving your victory. Dreams will give you something to fight for and Dreams will give you the motivation to keep going through the hard times.
4. Now this brings us to The Fourth Step which is the Psycho-Education
Psycho-Education is crucial for overcoming OCD and Intrusive Thoughts because it helps you to understand what is going on in your mind. And when you have this information as a foundation for your Victory plan, it is a lot easier to put yourself through the hard work of Exposure and Response Prevention.
Once you understand the different parts of your brain that are incorporated with the OCD cycle, you can really begin to understand how the Victory process works.
5. Step Number Five is Identifying Your Obsessive Thoughts and Compulsive Behaviors.
When we are talking about identifying obsessions and compulsions it’s real straightforward, it’s really just a matter of identifying the type of obsessive/intrusive thoughts you experience and also identifying the compulsive behaviors that you perform to alleviate the anxiety, stress, or guilt that is caused by those thoughts.
6. The Sixth Step is to Identify the Root of Your Fears.
This is a key step because you can’t change what you can’t see. So when you identify the basic root fear of your obsessive/intrusive thoughts… it will help expedite the of the process of Exposure and Response Prevention. Now when you do your exposure and response prevention your goal should be to take the exposure to the root of your fear and really expose yourself to the core of your fear. In this step, I will introduce the six basic fears and I will show you a process for how to identify which of the six basic fears your obsessive thoughts are rooted in. The Six Basic Fears are:
The Fear of Poverty
The Fear of Criticism
The Fear of Loss of Love
The Fear of Ill-Health or Sickness
The Fear of Old Age
The Fear of Death
7. Step Number Seven is a process that I call “Accept, Sit and Breathe”
In this process you will learn to Accept your obsessive & intrusive thoughts as they come in your mind and to Sit with the uncomfortable feelings that accompany them. Then you will learn to implement a technique called Diaphragmatic Breathing to really promote the flow of oxygen to your brain and body. This 3-step process really helps introduce you to a phenomenon called habituation, which is one of the cornerstones for successfully overcoming OCD and Intrusive Thoughts.
8. This leads us to Step Number Eight – Understanding the White Bears
Now when I first learned about the “White Bears” it was a huge turnaround in my recovery over OCD and Intrusive thoughts. This is a step that I really enjoy teaching people. I have found that once a person really grasp the “White Bears Study” and the “Ironic Process Theory” there seems to be a huge turn around with their experience of intrusive thoughts. This step also really helps people to understand why exposures are so effective for overcoming OCD.
9. Step Number Nine is Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP)
This step is really the cornerstone and fundamental process of overcoming OCD and Intrusive Thoughts. ERP is basically this idea of exposing yourself to whatever you’re afraid of and then preventing yourself from engaging in compulsive behaviors. The whole point of ERP is to promote the phenomenon of habituation. When you successfully complete an exposure and go through the process of habituation you are showing your mind and your body that you can tolerate your fear and you don’t need to actively get rid of it through compulsive behaviors. And the more and more you habituate to your fear, the less and less it will bother you.
10. Step Number Ten is Mindfulness
The last Step is a process known as Mindfulness. Now unfortunately, mindfulness is something a lot of people forego. But I have personally found mindfulness to be crucial in maintaining your freedom from OCD.
While Mindfulness has its roots in a Buddhist practice it is far from a religious technique. Mindfulness is more just a daily way of life…It is the practice of maintaining your focus in the present moment and to catch yourself from drifting into the past or present. The Goal of Mindfulness is to learn to become actively aware of your thoughts and your point of concentration. When you start to incorporate mindfulness on a daily basis it will start to take place of your compulsive behaviors and really keep you free from OCD.
And that pretty much briefly summarizes the whole Victory process. These are the steps and tools I used to overcome my Intrusive Thoughts & OCD (which I struggled with for many years).
I really do believe that these tools can help you as well if you struggle with OCD or Intrusive Thoughts.