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Jim96

Saying some offensive or shocking

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Hi people,

For the last 5 years or so I've worried about saying something offensive or shocking in public places. Only in recent months have I realised this is probably intrusive thoughts.

Throughout university, during lectures i often became worried I'd shout something out that was terrible and likewise in exams halls. I find myself thinking too deeply about the consequences of actions and how I could so easily do or say something that would result in me being rejected by society. These thoughts occur even though I do not subscribe to any of these beliefs. 

My intrusive thoughts seem to be mainly based around harm to others but in the verbal sense. While i consider myself to be a very liberal person, I care about civil rights, dated other ethnicities, and I care about the feelings of others,  In recent months i have had intrusive thoughts about saying something racist to someone in a public place. Most often this has been on public transport where I feel the most trapped? I understand intrusive thoughts often cling to values you hold dearly? I'm a liberal person so my brain clings to the racist intrusive thoughts because it finds them most shocking ?

Anyway,  I have started thinking more about when they seem to occur. On my commute to work I seem to be generally okay. I think I'm definitely a morning person, my mind is most rational then but as the day progresses and the normal stresses and anxiety of the working day are thrown into the mix, I become more susceptible to intrusive thoughts? The commute home from work seems to be when I'm most susceptible?

Basically, what I have come here for is some tips on mechanisms or strategies in moments when a thought intrudes. So far I am doing my best to distract myself e.g. reading, listening to podcasts or music or watching Netflix.  Just wondering If anyone else had similar experiences and had ways of dealing with these situations ?

Cheers! 

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What you describe sound like standard OCD doing its thing. While unimportant in tackling the disorder, some experts have suggested that Tourette's may have a relationship with OCD. As for the therapeutic response? Accept the thoughts, and go about your day. 

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Thank you. When you say 'accept the thoughts' it seems kind of abstract. What does this involve? 

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Jim I had much the same situation as you - scared of voicing harm intrusive thoughts. 

In CBT I was taught, by a clinical psychologist who had recovered from harm OCD intrusions towards her children and decided to train to help others, that with such harm intrusions OCD targets our true character values of love and care and alleges that we could act opposite to them. 

This was a light bulb moment 💡 

One method of CBT treatment is "accepting the thoughts" as a possibility and sitting with the fear periodically in exposure and response prevention until the anxiety starts to fade.Effectively you flood it and burn it out, till it loses momentum and impetus 

It's quite good, rather like saying "boo to the OCD goose". So what, go on, I know it's all bull as OCD is lying. Maybe, maybe not - in a detached from it kind of way. 

Another is to follow "The Four Steps" methodology. See the fears of the OCD being true, and you might voice intrusions, as the work of OCD and label them so. 

Reattribute them as being just the work of OCD. 

Refocus away from them and onto involved beneficial distraction. 

Revalue your position. Understand that you are not responsible for having these intrusive thoughts, nor are you a bad person. Your true character values remain intact. 

The combination of these two aspects of therapy are very powerful. 

 

Edited by taurean

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Hi Taurean, 

Thank you for your reply! The human brain is very complex! 

It's odd, we're completely aware that its irrational but part of our brain still lives by the 'what if'. 'I've escaped this time but what if it happens next time'. All these thoughts seem to go against the history of our character. Which I suppose is why the brain locks on to them. 

Thank you for your tips. I'm keen to reach that point where I'm able to comfortably let intrusive thoughts pass in the same way I register positive thoughts.

So when a thought intrudes, is distracting yourself bad or is it also fine? Is it best to focus on the thought? Focusing on the thought sounds healthy but obviously very uncomfortable and difficult in practice. 

Cheers,

Jim

 

 

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15 minutes ago, Jim96 said:

So when a thought intrudes, is distracting yourself bad or is it also fine? Is it best to focus on the thought? Focusing on the thought sounds healthy but obviously very uncomfortable and difficult in practice. 

You work with both. 

Leave the thought be and refocus away again to beneficial distraction, as the norm. Eventually you will do this automatically. 

Work exposure and response prevention. In structured sessions, sit with/bring up intrusive thoughts, in a hierarchy - least anxiety-inducing first; sticking with them, reminding yourself what they truly really are, the work of OCD. 

So don't believe them, acclimatise until in one session the anxiety fades away. 

You should now find the intrusion will lose power and frequency, and can easily be dismissed. 

Edited by taurean

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22 hours ago, taurean said:

You work with both. 

Leave the thought be and refocus away again to beneficial distraction, as the norm. Eventually you will do this automatically. 

Work exposure and response prevention. In structured sessions, sit with/bring up intrusive thoughts, in a hierarchy - least anxiety-inducing first; sticking with them, reminding yourself what they truly really are, the work of OCD. 

So don't believe them, acclimatise until in one session the anxiety fades away. 

You should now find the intrusion will lose power and frequency, and can easily be dismissed. 

Question - when using intrusive thoughts as an exposure aren’t I supposed to expose myself to the possibility that the thoughts are real, like agree with them, record them or write them in a way that says they are true? Even though that’s horrific and anxiety provoking isn’t that the idea rather than saying it’s ocd during an exposure. Just want to make sure I do it right 

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I personally prefer the "Brainlock" approach of thinking of the intrusion in the light of our cognitive understanding, and labelling and reattributing it to OCD. 

That worked fine for me, where the harm intrusions were as result of OCD attacking my true core values. So in ERP I sat with them knowing they were false, and the anxiety was reduced gradually as my mind learned to accept that position. 

The other way is generally accepted by many including such eminent authorities as Fred Pesner in the USA and David Veale in the UK. But I don't think personally I view it as best where the OCD version is attacking those true core values - telling a sufferer to accept thoughts that in therapy are clearly false doesn't to me seem right. 

 

Edited by taurean

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3 hours ago, taurean said:

I personally prefer the "Brainlock" approach of thinking of the intrusion in the light of our cognitive understanding, and labelling and reattributing it to OCD. 

That worked fine for me, where the harm intrusions were as result of OCD attacking my true core values. So in ERP I sat with them knowing they were false, and the anxiety was reduced gradually as my mind learned to accept that position. 

The other way is generally accepted by many including such eminent authorities as Fred Pesner in the USA and David Veale in the UK. But I don't think personally I view it as best where the OCD version is attacking those true core values - telling a sufferer to accept thoughts that in therapy are clearly false doesn't to me seem right. 

 

Ok that makes sense, and will also be less uncomfortable and so less anxiety provoking, which perhaps isn’t a good thing given that when the thoughts say they are real they are very anxiety provoking, so maybe exposure this way won’t be enough but I will try it this way first, as I worry that the other way might make me start believing it’s true and I don’t want that either! 

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Hi Black.

It's not about the degree of anxiety provoked; it's all about getting our brain to accept that the intrusions are just "worthless nonsense". 

So you should be fine with the "Brainlock" approach. 

N. B. I also am a big advocate of "Brainlock" and The Four Steps - made perfect sense to me. 

Did you know that Jeffrey Schwartz has spoken at an OCD-UK conference, and agreed to become an overseas ambassador of OCD-UK? 

Edited by taurean

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22 minutes ago, taurean said:

Hi Black.

It's not about the degree of anxiety provoked; it's all about getting our brain to accept that the intrusions are just "worthless nonsense". 

So you should be fine with the "Brainlock" approach. 

N. B. I also am a big advocate of "Brainlock" and The Four Steps - made perfect sense to me. 

Did you know that Jeffrey Schwartz has spoken at an OCD-UK conference, and agreed to become an overseas ambassador of OCD-UK? 

Thanks for clarifying that, I’m planning to spend the day tomorrow writing / recording some exposures.

That’s great re Schwartz, I think I watched the clip of his talk at the conference the other night when I was obsessing. I like that he’s done a new book which takes the 4 steps and implements then in relation to unhelpful thinking patterns and negative thoughts more generally, so the model can be used for other mental health issues like depression or anxiety and not just ocd. I’ve used the 4 steps with my own clients where appropriate as It’s so transferable to negative or anxious thoughts more generally, so I’m glad it’s been framed up that way in the new book. You are not your brain I think it’s called.

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Any idea what happened to Legend who used to be a moderator on this forum. He was the guru when I was in here years ago although I was a lurker rather than a poster I learnt a lot from him. Hope he’s ok and still In recovery. 

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Yes I do know. 

I had the pleasure of meeting him personally at a London OCD-UK support group (he had travelled down from Cambridge for the evening to attend it). 

He does a lot in his local community, and he elected to put his ongoing efforts to help others into that. 

I think he may have found that he had done what he could here and wanted a new challenge. 

Legend attended that conference where Jeffrey spoke, and he seems to like the "Brainlock" approach. 

Occasionally he pops onto the forums to see what is going on. 

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9 minutes ago, taurean said:

Yes I do know. 

I had the pleasure of meeting him personally at a London OCD-UK support group (he had travelled down from Cambridge for the evening to attend it). 

He does a lot in his local community, and he elected to put his ongoing efforts to help others into that. 

I think he may have found that he had done what he could here and wanted a new challenge. 

Legend attended that conference where Jeffrey spoke, and he seems to like the "Brainlock" approach. 

Occasionally he pops onto the forums to see what is going on. 

Yes I thought it would be something like that, he certainly did his stint, and like you and polar bear helped so so many, really was a legend. Glad he is doing well, reassurance lol

You’re up late?

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I get my hours of sleep in overall, sometimes with an afternoon siesta or evening doze :)

But will often wake up a couple of times a night. 

Sometimes, if there is good dialogue going on - often of course from our overseas users such as yourself - I will join in via my smartphone 📱 

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Hi Guys,

Thank you for both of your responses. You have both been helpful.

The thing is with me is that I know the thoughts are ridiculous and I know I'm not racist. I worry about the ease of which I could say something bad in certain situations even though I dont believe them. I think too much about the consequences of doing things. 

My two main fears at the moment are 1.Being in a situation where I do say something offensive (irrational brain thinking) 2. Getting into a state where I avoid situations to the point where I don't want to do anything. 

At the moment I'm generally okay. I commute to work everyday and always accept social invites at weekends even if it does mean getting on a train or something. My fear is that I'll get to a point where I dont want to do things. But that's never happened in the last 5 years. My OCD and anxiety definitely comes in waves. It's always there underneath the surface but it comes and goes. There will be months where I feel great, then there will be months where it feels particularly tough. Right now its playing on my mind a bit.

Cheers,

Jim 

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...I've been thinking about this a fair bit lately, understanding my particular intrusive thoughts. When I was younger, at primary school and high school my main worry like most young people was seeming weird. At school everyone wants to fit in and so we try to look as normal as possible. So at school I used to fear situations where I'd look weird. I used to worry about eating and appearing a fussy eater and I also used to worry about having a toilet accident. (Having a toilet accident at school would be social suicide). So I used to be quite obsessive with making sure I'd been to the toilet before each lesson. 

Fast forward a few years when you've left school and you have different set of friends and everyone is older, people dont care as much about being weird? E.g. If a friend got drunk now and ****** themselves, we'd laugh but move on pretty quickly and still be friends. No one would actually care. So now I'm an adult my brain locks to more important issues e.g. the fear of social rejection through the form of being a bad, discriminatory person. So my fears have moved to more serious matters like appearing racist?

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So, you need to challenge them in structured sessions, otherwise stop giving meaning to them when they come and refocus away. 

It's all about retraining our mind - making the necessary thinking then behavioural changes to our obsessions. 

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Hi Taurean,

I went to a GP last month who referred me to a local NHS wellbeing service and we had a chat over the phone. She then referred me to an online 'webinar' based around Anxiety generally I think? This will take place towards the end of this month. I'm looking forward to that but slightly unsure if it'll have any benefit for people like myself who battle with intrusive thoughts? Hopefully it will. Anyway, if it isn't relevant, would you suggest going back to the local NHS wellbeing service or to a private therapist?

Thank you for your help,

Jim

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There is are differences between treating the various types of negative-thinking anxiety-inducing states with CBT . 

There are the fifteen types of thinking distortions, which include thinks like overgeneralisation, Black and white (all or nothing) thinking, mind-reading, personalization. 

Here the distortions need to be challenged with rationale. 

There are phobias, which are exaggerated responses to seeding events. 

There is OCD 

There is stress 

There is post traumatic stress disorder. 

There is Autism. 

There is general anxiety disorder. 

Then there is bipolar disorder , depressive states. 

Be interesting to see what comes out of this online arrangement. 

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Hi Guys,

Just been watching some YouTube videos about ERP. The therapist was saying that firstly you should exposure yourself to the situation you fear? To an extent I am already doing this. E.g. I get on the train carriage into a confind public place (although I do find myself avoiding carriages with ethnic minorities for fear of what I could say). So I suppose I should get on a carriage I am trying to avoid and face the anxiety?

The next stage however is to push beyond and go the next step? In an OCD situation where one fears germs this would involve something like licking of the hands etc.? In my situation what would this involve? Obviously it would be terrible to actually say something racist but what would the next step be? Similarly, for example if someone had intrusive thoughts about driving over a bridge for fear they may veer off the side. Step 1 would be drive over the bridge but what would be the next step? You can't actually drive off the bridge.

Just some thoughts, cheers!

Jim

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Hi!:clapping:

I get the exact same thing.

Infact it happened to me today during a lecture at my college. I get a thought of a word, sometimes not even offensive, and then i think...what if i shouted this?

And it gets me so worked up that i just sit there nervously and panic.

I also have to get on trains everyday and hate it...but i try and expose myself to it by not relying on my headphones, using my phone, watching things etc. as its kind of used as my coping mechanism when anxious...

I suppose one thing to do is to just sit with the thought instead of pushing it away. The more you urge it away, the worse it will get. Other people have given you good advice and probably already told you this but i just related to it so much!

Good luck!!!

Sophx

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A couple of things. Exposure is worthless unless you follow up with the RP of ERP, response prevention. That means no compulsions. Exposure itself is not enough.

First you need to determine what your compulsions are. We know you avoid certain situations. That's one. What else do you do? Ruminate? Reassure yourself that you won't blurt out something offensive?

Second, you need to break the exposures into manageable pieces. How about first you sit in a carriage with visible minorities? Second you sit close to them. Last you sit right beside a minority.

Third, you need to do each step repeatedly, like daily, while practicing not doing compulsions, until doing so does not raise your anxiety level. That could take a week or a month. Only when doing an exposure does nothing do you move to the next level.

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Hi Guys,

Thanks Soph for your response. While It makes me sad that you are also experiencing this, it is reassuring to know I am not mad! 

Thank you Polar bear too. I have started doing this. Yesterday I purposely chose getting on a carriage with someone who was an ethnic minority. Following your advice, I am going to continue to build up these experiences. I commute everyday so I have enough opportunity.

I understand that thoughts come and go. And sometimes they can pass very quickly if you're listening to something in your earphones, it almost passes without you realising. But I do struggle with those moments where it sticks and lingers and makes you feel very uncomfortable. I need to learn how to distance myself from these thoughts when they come and accept they will pass. 

Thanks, Jim

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On 12/06/2019 at 23:25, Jim96 said:

Hi people,

For the last 5 years or so I've worried about saying something offensive or shocking in public places. Only in recent months have I realised this is probably intrusive thoughts.

Throughout university, during lectures i often became worried I'd shout something out that was terrible and likewise in exams halls. I find myself thinking too deeply about the consequences of actions and how I could so easily do or say something that would result in me being rejected by society. These thoughts occur even though I do not subscribe to any of these beliefs. 

My intrusive thoughts seem to be mainly based around harm to others but in the verbal sense. While i consider myself to be a very liberal person, I care about civil rights, dated other ethnicities, and I care about the feelings of others,  In recent months i have had intrusive thoughts about saying something racist to someone in a public place. Most often this has been on public transport where I feel the most trapped? I understand intrusive thoughts often cling to values you hold dearly? I'm a liberal person so my brain clings to the racist intrusive thoughts because it finds them most shocking ?

Anyway,  I have started thinking more about when they seem to occur. On my commute to work I seem to be generally okay. I think I'm definitely a morning person, my mind is most rational then but as the day progresses and the normal stresses and anxiety of the working day are thrown into the mix, I become more susceptible to intrusive thoughts? The commute home from work seems to be when I'm most susceptible?

Basically, what I have come here for is some tips on mechanisms or strategies in moments when a thought intrudes. So far I am doing my best to distract myself e.g. reading, listening to podcasts or music or watching Netflix.  Just wondering If anyone else had similar experiences and had ways of dealing with these situations ?

Cheers! 

I had the exact same obsession when I was at university. I was constantly fearful I would blurt out something inappropriate or that I had written something in an email to a lecturer or in an essay. I’d then ruminate over and over about every encounter I’d had with them and check my emails over and over. I even ran out of my lectures a few times. 

An OCD specialist told me that she had heard of this obsession time and again, and also, to this day I haven’t ended up offending anybody to my knowledge 😛, so the fear was definitely unfounded. University is so stressful what with all the deadlines etc it’s no wonder OCD flares up and the theme subsequently sticks with you because you were so massively afraid. 

I find just being able to recognise OCD for being OCD and not reality helps a great deal (oh, there’s that same thought again), and then distancing myself from it and doing something I value. Over time, the less I’ve reacted to it and just got on with doing what I wanted to do, the thoughts naturally lessened. 

Hope you’re feeling better.

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