Up until recently (Im 35 now) I never understood the thoughts that I obsess about on a daily basis. The things that just pop up into my head and I play out in my mind OVER AND OVER again. Sometimes I even have conversations out loud with the person or thing I am obsessing over. I just figured this was either all natural and normal or I was just a deeply disturbed person. Either way my thoughts tortured me continuously. From the moment I woke up until I Xanax’d myself to sleep I would just obsess over these horrible thoughts.
Some of the times I did not mind some of these obsessions. For instance, I would have thoughts of running into people who wronged me as a child and exacting my revenge on them. However, many of my obsessions would come on so strong they would literally make my head tingle with anxiety and feel of nauseous deep in the pit of my stomach. The unwanted thoughts were derived from fears and insecurity. Things like what my girlfriend or ex-girlfriend would be doing with another man. Thoughts of gloom and doom, like how my life was a complete failure. I would have unwanted thoughts about someone randomly hitting my dog with their car and killing her. I would then allow the thought to continue on as far as to how I would kill the person after they killed Maddie.
I continually had obsessions of myself failing at all my business ventures and as a person. I would picture myself losing everything I had. My life as I know it, my money, the people I love and it would end with me committing suicide. These obsessions occurred so often that I started accepting them as a likely outcome for my future. My unwanted thoughts had just become to much for me to handle and I doubted everything and anything positive in my life.
One day I was driving and I was listening to Howard Stern and he was talking about his OCD. He and his guest were talking about the obsessive thoughts and something just resonated with me. It was like listening to a part of my story. Once I heard this and thought about it an odd sense of calm came over me. It was like finding a small clue to solve a huge mystery. For a brief period of time my obsessions just stopped.
Now I only really thought of OCD as people who was their hands 100 times in a row or touch light switches 26 times before they could leave the house. I later found those were examples of the compulsions. The obsessions or unwanted thoughts are what drove those compulsions. To oversimplify this all, this condition stems from “faulty wiring” in certain parts of the brain. I talked to my therapist about my thoughts on OCD and he recommended I read a book called “Brain Lock.” I related to so much in this book. The more I read the better I felt. There were so many examples of people in the book with the same exact obsessions and odd thought I experience. For example, many people besides myself have irrational fears and thoughts when they are holding a knife or dangerous object that they may use it on someone they care about. I used to have these unwanted thoughts often and they really made me feel like I was an evil, demented person. In reality they were just unwanted, irrational thoughts that I would never act upon. All these insane thoughts I had could finally be explained and there was hope to have a life without them.
Brain Lock lays out a 4 step plan to deal with these obsessions.
- Step 1: Relabel
- Step 2: Reattribute
- Step 3: Refocus
- Step 4: Revalue
Essentially, what I do with these principles is tell myself its just an unwanted thought and I do not need to pay attention to it. Then I direct my attention to something else that is constructive. For example when a thought about my demise may come up, I will stop the obsession in its tracks and turn my thoughts to my work. I an write, read something uplifting or exercise. The book coined the slogan “its not me its my OCD.” This may sound really fucking cheesy, but I can repeat this simple statement daily and it truly helps me deal with the obsessions.
Don’t get me wrong these unwanted thoughts continually pop up in my mind and haunt me still to this day more often than I would like. Sometimes they kick my ass pretty bad. However I now understand the skill set to handle these obsessions. Some times they still get the better of me and they take me to a dark place that’s very bad for me. I still have a lot of work to do, but I can see the progress I have made in 3 short months. The feeling of freedom from unwanted thoughts that sabotage the good in my life. These results make me very hopeful for the future.