Do you have habits that have become annoying rituals. Do you spend too much time washing, cleaning the house constantly, or checking the kitchen doors and locks over and over? While these activities are good to do, It becomes a problem when you do them over and over, and when the rituals interfere with your life. Here is some advice for what helps you and what doesn’t help you when treating Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) on your own.
- find a qualified cognitive behavioral therapist
- discuss with your therapist what you are anxious about
- think about what you may be avoiding and deal with it
- be firm with yourself when you are working on your program
- understand that you can use your OCD to an advantage
- blame yourself for having OCD
- wait until you are completely over the ritual to give yourself credit
- let people make you feel anxious or frustrated
- stay with a therapist who is not helping
- conclude that you are cured for life when you think you finished therapy successfully
Cognitive behavioral therapy involves changing your thought patterns and changing your behavior. OCD is a form of anxiety. It is important to get help so you can learn how to change your thoughts and your actions, and have a program to follow at home that meets your specific needs.
People who suffer from OCD have anxiety about one or more aspects of their life. It is important to understand what you are anxious about. Work on resolving the issues and not dwelling on them.
OCD is often an anxious attempt to avoid dealing with something. Extreme forms of OCD, such as never leaving the house because you are too busy folding paper towels is a way of avoiding the demands of life. Milder forms of OCD, such as checking the locks and stove burners in the house five times before you leave can simply be an excessive concern for safety.
It is important to stop yourself when you are tempted to continue the ritual you are doing. For example, if you are in the shower and you have to be at work soon, be firm with yourself and stop washing. Tell yourself firmly to stop even if you still feel dirty after one round. Then remind yourself that you will feel much better getting to work on time than if you keep washing and are late. Feel the feelings of pain from continuing to wash and pleasure from getting to work on time. Get leverage on yourself.
Many people with OCD are successful in their careers. It is because they redirect their obsessions (repetitive thoughts that are against the person’s will) and compulsions (impulses to perform an action against the person’s will) into actions that are sublimated (redirected into socially acceptable actions). For example, an accountant might direct her OCD to her work and have a successful tax accounting business. She would just need to be on guard that she does not become a workaholic.
Some people try to motivate themselves to work harder by having self-deprecating thoughts. This does not work if you have OCD because the self deprecating thoughts can become obsessive. This could lead to depression or more anxiety since you think the thought over and over again. You do not want to be calling yourself stupid or thinking “I have no willpower” over and over. Control your thoughts and feelings to stop negative thoughts from becoming obsessive.
Give yourself credit for each improvement that you make. You can do this and still push yourself to improve. This might seem to contradict the previous advice about being firm with yourself. However, you can give yourself credit and this will motivate you to continue stopping the rituals. Suppose you are normally in the shower for 45 minutes and one day you are only in for 30 minutes. Give yourself credit for the improvement, but still strive for 25 minutes or less time the next day.
Toxic people can upset you and make you retreat back into your ritual. Anyone who is critical of you, unreasonably demanding, or makes you feel depressed, anxious or drained should be avoided. If it’s someone you can’t avoid such as a family member or coworker, you need to practice assertiveness or minimize your time with them.
If you have been working hard in therapy but feel that you are not making progress, tell your therapist. If they do not change what they are doing with you, change therapists. You are in therapy for yourself and you deserve to be successful.
When you have OCD you always have to be vigilant for other rituals that you may develop. This does not mean that you can’t be spontaneous and enjoy life, you just need to be aware that you could develop another OCD ritual and watch to see if you are. Get help when you need it.
OCD or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a common form of anxiety. It includes the repetition of unwanted thoughts and unwanted rituals. Treatment involves changing your thoughts, acknowledging and facing your anxiety, and developing a behavior modification program with a therapist to stop your repetitive ritual. There is a lot of help from qualified therapists if you need it.