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Stoping compulsions

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I get a lot of horrible thoughts (I don’t even think they’re intrusive because I think them in my head myself as a way of checking, maybe once they started as intrusive). When I think of them, I want to work then out and I want to analyse to see what I really feel about them, if I’m a bad person etc. When I get unacceptable thoughts I always feel I like them or think they’re ok but I go over and over until I feel I think they’re bad.

I know these are compulsions and I do them because I just don’t feel right if I don’t go over them and analyse them. They normally make me feel more panicked and upset because I rarely get the answer I’m looking for.

How to I stop doing it? I know nothing bad is going to happen if I don’t do them and nothing will change if I don’t do them so why do I do them and how do I stop? I’ve tried throwing myself into doing things and this has worked in the past but only for a few months maximum.

im so sick of feeling like this and it wrecking my life. Thank you x

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Hi Rachel 

This link to an excellent video by our excellent forum stalwart PolarBear should get you started. 

I intend to put together a thread on our collective help as forum users on this subject, but this will take some research so will need to carry out that exercise first. 

Best wishes 


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To quote one of our professionals we need to "Get comfortable with being uncomfortable" and we need to try and re-train our brains and break what has become the default pattern of thinking.

There is a bit of a misunderstanding about intrusive thoughts as though they are coming from some outside source.  All of our thoughts are "thought" by ourselves, we "think" the thoughts.  Just as you've said you self above, you think them in your head yourself.  That's good news because it also means that you are in a position to change how you think and how you react.

How do you stop doing it?  Well it's hard work, it provokes anxiety and it needs repeated effort to break the patterns that have become established.  You have to become the watchman and become aware of when you are slipping into this pattern of rumination, this internal debate you're having with yourself.

We have internal conversations all the time.  If you were thinking of refurbing your lounge, if you catch yourself you'll probably find that you spend many hours thinking about it.  What colours to choose, whether you're going to buy a new sofa, where you can find a lamp like one you saw on tv, what day you can get to B & Q, whether you'll bother painting the skirting etc etc etc.  You fall into this thinking, this daydreaming almost automatically but you have actually instigated it.  It doesn't worry you because it's pleasant, non-threatening.  The same happens with rumination, we slip into this seemingly automatic thinking in order to solve a problem but this time it's an unpleasant subject matter.

When you find yourself slipping into this thinking/rumination you literally have to identify it, label it.  "I'm doing it again.  I know this is OCD, I know it isn't going to help to go over this, I am not going to continue with this debate"  You stop the conversation, you refuse to debate, you concentrate on doing something else.  Within minutes your brain will start again with "Yes but......blah, blah, blah".  It will try and make the case that this is important.  You start again and repeat that refusal to debate this.  You are re-training your thinking patterns and it takes time.  Taking the DIY example, you could decide that you've spent enough time thinking about cushions and are going to stop it for the day..Bet your bottom dollar that within 15 minutes, your brain will have sneakily slipped back into thinking about cushions and paint colours.  It's the nature of how our brains tend to work.

Have a go today at identifying those moments when you're slipping into these rumination, try relabelling what is happening and have a go at stopping the debate.  Remember, it won't take long before your brain gets pulled back in to the cycle.....repeat the process.  Give it a try and let us know how you Get on :)

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