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gingerbreadgirl

Some magical thinking?

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OK so this is a bit of reassurance seeking I know. 

I often do this thing where I swear something on my partner's life or my cat's life to get myself to do something that I might not be disciplined to do otherwise eg. I won't have pudding or I'll go to the gym. I don't say the promise to anyone just to myself. It sounds silly but it's a really good way of getting me to stick to things. 

I worry that sometimes I get my partner to "let me off" these promises, or I'm worried that I've broken them in the past. I am not religious but I have this nagging feeling that someone could be keeping tabs and I could, for example, be punished  when I die. I don't seriously believe this. I also don't want to stop doing this as it's a good system for me. 

This isn't an ocd thing yet but it could easily become one if I let it. Could someone help me see this logically? 

Edited by gingerbreadgirl

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I think the approach is really to tell yourself that maybe you will be punished when you die and try to accept this possibility. It’s one of those things where you fear something bad will happen, so you have to stop fighting the possibility that it could and accept that it may and that you will still continue to live your life how you want to. 

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2 hours ago, gingerbreadgirl said:

Thanks Malina. You're right I need to nip this in the bud by turning and facing it. Thanks for the reminder :) 

You can do it! I think that being aware is the first step and it's great that you're picking up on OCD patterns of thinking when they first emerge. 

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Magical thinking, the belief that one's ideas, thoughts, actions, words, or use of symbols can influence the course of events in the material world. Magical thinking presumes a causal link between one's inner, personal experience and the external physical world.

It’s a stage of childhood that begins when we were toddlers so a lot has to do with how our folks dealt with it. 

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Thanks all :) 

This first emerged a few years ago. I made one of these promises on my pet rabbit's life (it sounds so ridiculous when I write it down!!) which I ended up not sticking to - and he died a few months after that which planted this idea I was responsible.

I very rarely don't stick to this kind of thing (which is the whole point of making them) and i have almost mobilised this worry I have to instil self discipline, if that makes sense. If I stop worrying about it then it loses its power. But I also don't want it to vier into ocd land which it could easily. 

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5 hours ago, gingerbreadgirl said:

This first emerged a few years ago. I made one of these promises on my pet rabbit's life (it sounds so ridiculous when I write it down!!) which I ended up not sticking to - and he died a few months after that which planted this idea I was responsible.

It's good that you noticed this because this is an event that occurred at random that has brought on board your beliefs about responsibility. This is where you've made the initial connection between thoughts and things that happen. You obviously know that this was an unfortunate coincidence, because thoughts are just thoughts.

 

5 hours ago, gingerbreadgirl said:

I very rarely don't stick to this kind of thing (which is the whole point of making them) and i have almost mobilised this worry I have to instil self discipline, if that makes sense. If I stop worrying about it then it loses its power. But I also don't want it to vier into ocd land which it could easily.

So what you're saying is the fear of it coming true drives your discipline. Well that's an interesting knot to get yourself into!

Ok so this seems a little complicated. You can't just stop making the promises because that's like buying into the fear, however utilising the fear even for discipline could reinforce the idea that thoughts matter. That could effect more than just this problem. So I would attack this from both angles. You need to explore what effect thoughts have, try to win the lottery through willing it. Try washing up by sitting staring at the dishes willing them clean and so on. 

Then, to really make sure OCD doesn't become a problem, make promises and break them on purpose. My advice would be to do that in planned behavioural experiments. 

After all the above, my instinct says that using this fear to get stuff done isn't the best strategy for motivation (but don't give it up out of fear). How about looking into using carrots as opposed to sticks for motivation. Rewarding yourself when you reach a goal might help in other areas too re self-worth :)

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Thanks gemma x

I definitely know thoughts don't really affect things. (Although this was said out loud to myself but I know it's the same). It's just a stupid irrational fear.  I think I'm more afraid of being punished when I die. That does nag at me and has done for years. I'm not religious but I always think what if... 

Yes I can see when you put it like that it is a little complicated. I have sometimes thought that I am mobilising ocd /worry to my advantage a bit which is not a healthy way to think... 

I have trouble motivating myself without doing this. As you know I worry a lot about moral things and being a good person and that worry is highly motivating to me. I find it hard to motivate myself with carrots - I think I have a bit of a self-destructive urge and carrots can sometimes push me in the opposite direction which sounds absurd I know... 

I really don't want to expose myself to breaking promises although I can see the logic in doing so. I think if I stop using this strategy my life could very quickly spiral out of control and I don't think I am exaggerating saying that! 

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2 minutes ago, gingerbreadgirl said:

I really don't want to expose myself to breaking promises although I can see the logic in doing so. I think if I stop using this strategy my life could very quickly spiral out of control and I don't think I am exaggerating saying that! 

You see this sounds like they're compulsions. The importance you place on them is too much. Living your life in a way that if you don't say something it will all fall apart is no way to live, can you see that? 

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I can see what you're saying. I really can. And I know there's an issue with me not being able to motivate myself in more healthy ways. But this system generally works pretty well for me and stops me doing destructive things - so i really don't want to rock that particular boat. I know ideally I would but life is complicated right and this is just something that helps me stay on top of things. I think it's really just like a superstition like paradoxer said. Hope that makes sense. 

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5 minutes ago, gingerbreadgirl said:

But this system generally works pretty well for me and stops me doing destructive things

In your opinion it does, but what if it doesn't and this system causes problems too like placing an overimportance on thoughts. You can use the same argument with checking, you check the door is locked, your house doesn't get broken into, but maybe it never would have and maybe now your life is destroyed by OCD.

What I'm saying is, the disturbance of your life shouldn't hang on what is effectively nothing, but just feels like something. It's actively participating in superstitious beliefs, that's why worrying about others happens as a consequence. 

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I totally understand why you'd want to use something that is effective, but surely all compulsions are effective in getting us to do things, whether those things are positive or not. For example, someone with OCD could use their health fears to go to the gym or eat a healthy diet, which on the surface seems great, but it could be because they have an underlying fear having a heart attack. This is a silly example, but I do think that having OCD can result in some positive traits, but you shouldn't have to live with underlying fear to get positive things done. I think it's important for you to remember that, in spite of these promises, it is you who is getting things done and staying motivated. You may have developed a system that works, but you're still the one in the driver's seat and maybe you need to just trust yourself more. 

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3 minutes ago, malina said:

I totally understand why you'd want to use something that is effective, but surely all compulsions are effective in getting us to do things, whether those things are positive or not. For example, someone with OCD could use their health fears to go to the gym or eat a healthy diet, which on the surface seems great, but it could be because they have an underlying fear having a heart attack. This is a silly example, but I do think that having OCD can result in some positive traits, but you shouldn't have to live with underlying fear to get positive things done. I think it's important for you to remember that, in spite of these promises, it is you who is getting things done and staying motivated. You may have developed a system that works, but you're still the one in the driver's seat and maybe you need to just trust yourself more. 

Brilliant post Malina, couldn't have explained it any better :)

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