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Stuck on a past thought - ‘Magical Thinking’


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Does anyone else suffer with ‘magical thinking’? I’ve convinced myself that I thought of the number 26 (one of the ‘ocd numbers’ I avoid) when I recently started a new phase/time in my life - I know can’t go back and ‘undo’ the thought. I feel it will forever haunt me. Does anyone know how best to overcome ‘magical thinking’...aside from seeking professional help? 

Edited by SarahW
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2 hours ago, SarahW said:

Does anyone else suffer with ‘magical thinking’? I’ve convinced myself that I thought of the number 26 (one of the ‘ocd numbers’ I avoid) when I recently started a new phase/time in my life - I know can’t go back and ‘undo’ the thought. I feel it will forever haunt me. Does anyone know how best to overcome ‘magical thinking’...aside from seeking professional help? 

Magical thinking attaches fear or threat to things that don't actually have it, hence it's" magical" as only our OCD recognises it.

In fact your OCD has convinced you that you broke one of its "rules" and thought of that number at that time.

To work further on your magical thinking buy the book "Break Free From OCD" by Salkovskis, Bream Oldfield and Challacombe. This will help you challenge the magical thinking and its suggested threat on a sustained basis.

Coming back to that fear regarding the number 26, do you think other people consider it bad? If not, why do you think that is? Why should a mental ritual such as thinking of a number have any threat or fear consequence? If you were someone else looking at this, what would they think?

My sister has some magical numbers but she tells me there is no fear attached to them. But if so, why doesn't she like them?

As a child I periodically felt compelled to regularly mentally count to 1,000,000 using multiplication or whatever. Why? Because I felt more comfortable if I did it! I challenged that myself, said to myself there is no reason to carry out this ritual, I am going to stop.

I did and never did it again. So with help, my sister could probably do the same, though it is far more ingrained in her.She has had therapy recently so may have done so.

With yourself there is clearly a fear threat as to how this change in your life will evolve.

You need to work at this area in the book and it will explain how to tackle the suggestion by OCD that this fear will eventuate if you thought the number.

 

Edited by taurean
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Thanks so much for your response @taurean It definitely made me think! I’m sure with lots of OCD sufferers, I know that nothing will happen if I think of a certain number or do something a certain number of times but it’s breaking that mindset.
 

I did once fear that doing things 6, 13 or 26 times would cause harm to others but over the years, the ocd focus has changed and insists more on the need to have things ‘just right’. 
 

What does it matter if I thought of the number 26??!! I know that this is what I should be thinking but when it’s been ingrained in you for so long that these numbers should be avoided, it’s very hard to then shift your mindset.
 

Thanks for the book recommendation.

Much love, Sarah

Edited by SarahW
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Hi Sarah. 

Things needing to be comfortable or just right is typical OCD. 

We challenge that by doing the opposite to what it says. 

In my case I stopped counting to 1,000,000.

I stopped trying to avoid stepping on the cracks between the paving stones. 

And I stopped feeling uncomfortable if I happened to see the church spire at night. 

Because those were new rituals at a young age, and I reasoned for myself they were pointless, I was able to stop them quickly. 

If rituals are ingrained then, even without a threat consequence, it is harder to break the compulsion. But you should be able to do this if you really work on it. 

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