Feeling Off

unhappyWhy do we beat up on ourselves when we are feeling off? Accept it. It is what it is. We are human. Some days we feel good; some days we don’t. That is a fact. The only thing to do with that is hands-off. We aren’t responsible for how we feel, good or bad, in any given moment. We only need to do what we have to do that day or how much we can with how we feel. Yes, not letting our feelings determine what we do next is a powerful way to live, but that doesn’t mean we try to change how we feel in any given moment. We don’t control the weather and we don’t control how or what we feel. Accept where you are and how you feel in any given moment and do what you can do moment by moment, and that is it. Don’t get involved with what you don’t control and do what you can control to your best judgment and your reasonable best.

BATTLE WITHIN

worriesI believe we all have a battle within and it is the biggest and most consistent one we will ever have to fight.  If you don’t think you have a battle within, ask yourself if you ever worry about things you don’t want to or if you haven’t done things that you wish you had.  Obviously, we all have.

There are, of course times, when to work on worries or concerns can be of value, if it is done constructively.  Let’s talk about the Times when you don’t want to think or give attention to your worry.  For me, the Times worry comes to me and is the most powerful in the evening when the day is done and the sun is down.  Worries can come to me in all different forms. Worry may come to me in the form of uncertainty about my future, my self-confidence, self esteem, my value and worth as a person, financial concerns, and many others.  Another time when worry comes to visit in a powerful way is when l don’t feel well, for whatever reason. I could have allergies flaring, sinus issues, a bad cough or headache, or maybe l am just feeling off emotionally, like not feeling very resilient or overly sensitive for whatever reason.

The above are all examples of when worry can be most potent and tend to affect me and, at times, even my outlook on my life.

Don’t you love it when people say, “You think too much.  Stop worrying about it.”  Oh, my God! That is brilliant!!! I never thought of that. How did you come up with that?  Give me a break, will ya?” Man, that’s the person I’m gonna go running to for advice when l feel off, weak, or out of sorts!  You want to say, “Please leave immediately, if not sooner.” So much for those who make matters worse. We could talk about that all night.

I’d rather discuss things that can help the present challenging situation or moment, not make it worse. Here are the kinds of things that help me. First of all, l don’t shame myself or make myself feel worse because I can’t snap out of it. It is what it is. And anyone who doesn’t understand that is really in poor shape internally. When some form of worry comes to me in the evening, l will tell myself that l am not going to think on this at least until the sun comes up. I try to never address a problem of mine when l feel off or really vulnerable. My viewpoint is skewed by my mood and things can appear much worse and negative than what they really are in reality.

I also remind myself that when l do feel better to not address my problem unless l am willing to take action toward improving or correcting it. Otherwise, I am just ruminating and making things worse. It also helps to frequently remind myself that I don’t have a crystal ball and know the future even though I think I do, especially when I am feeling low. Suspend addressing it until you feel better and are willing to take some small action toward improving it even if you don’t know what that action is yet. Being willing to take action and knowing what action to take are 2 entirely different things. For me, being willing to take action now is more important and difficult to achieve than knowing what that action is. It is more difficult for me to be WILLING to take action than it is to figure out the next move. I have found that if I am prepared internally and committed to taking some positive action, then knowing what to do next will show up more easily. The WILLINGNESS to take committed action is powerful, as is the opposite.  

Another helpful tip is to have a reasonable plan and then not let the worry monster jar you. I can have a plan of what I am going to do, and worry can still come on around and nail me into fear as if I never had a plan at all. That’s just the ignorance and arrogance of worry. It helps me to be more arrogant and ignorant than worry, regardless of how it is making me feel, by not engaging in it, no matter how tempting it is or powerful it feels. Get busy doing something. Paying attention to reality in the present moment is another powerful way I have found to combat worry. Immerse yourself in this present moment of reality.

I hope this helps.  Stay ahead of your worrisome mind by allowing it to make you feel not at your best and yet continue in accordance with what you have available (internally) at that time.  If you give it nothing to fight against, it ceases to exist.

All the best to you until next time.  -Gregg

Dismantling Fear’s Grip Is Much Easier Than You Think!

Face your fearFear.

Fear is a four-lettered word that holds us back from what we really want to achieve and become in life. It tells us terrible lies about ourselves, about the people around us, and about the world that we live in. If given enough power, fear can tighten its grip on us and cast aside our courage in one fell swoop. You can even hear it snidely whisper in your ear, “You’re all mine, and I’m never letting you go.”

At this point, there are two actions you can take. You can either bow down to fear and let it rule your life, or you can stand up to it and face it head-on.

When it comes to our fears and anxieties, we tend to avoid them. Scared of huge bridges? Don’t drive over them. Terrified of heights? Better not go up to view the city skyline 20+ floors above the ground. Frightened of insects or flying things? Hiking and camping are probably out for you then.

But if we were to obey our fears and avoid the things that scare us the most, our world becomes quite small, doesn’t it? Your fear could stop you from getting the job you want, seeing your favorite sports team or musicians play live, experiencing nature’s beauty with a loved one, or making memories with the people you hold closest to your heart. What kind of a life is that?

I’m here to tell you that fear isn’t permanent. You don’t have to live with it! You can actually do something about it. If you have OCD, you know that the disorder is based on “what if?” scenarios and an intolerance of the unknown. For instance, let’s say you’re afraid of bridges over large bodies of water. You might do everything in your power to avoid driving on bridges because you think up scary scenarios such as, “What if I accidentally drive off the side of the bridge? What if I get stuck in traffic and the bridge shakes so much that it collapses? What if I get stuck and then get sick and have nowhere to go or pass out?” These fears can become very debilitating. Heck, your palms might be sweating just reading this if you have this fear.

So how do you overcome that fear? Face it! Stand up and say, “I’m not afraid of bridges, and if I am, well, I won’t be for long!” Expose yourself to the fear by taking baby steps and driving over bridges. Your instinct might be to run away from the fear, but you will only let it win over you! By repeated exposures to things you fear the most, you will begin to dismantle fear’s grip over you. In fact, you might begin to see beauty in the things you feared the most – the twilight winking over the city skyline, the way the water laps peacefully under the beautiful bridge, the glory of the mountainsides and gorges in the world, and the way that fireflies light up to decorate the summer night sky.

I know that getting over your fears isn’t easy. Trust me, it’s going to take some time, and that’s okay! Just keep your spirits up and keep trying. If you find that going it alone is difficult, reach out and call me at (636) 236-2267 – I would be more than happy to help you through your journey! In the meantime, here are 10 inspirational quotes about conquering fear. I hope that they are helpful for you!

“When a resolute fellow steps up to the great bully – the world – and takes him boldly by the beard, he is often surprised to find it comes off in his hand, and that it was only tied on to scare away the timid adventures.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Fear: False Evidence Appearing Real.” –Unknown

“I am not afraid of tomorrow, for I have seen yesterday, and I love today.” –William Allen White

“Fear is only as deep as the mind allows.” – Japanese Proverb

“Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. The fearful are caught as often as the bold.” – Helen Keller

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.” –Eleanor Roosevelt

“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.” –Dale Carnegie

“Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood.” –Marie Curie

“One of the greatest discoveries a man makes, one of his great surprises, is to find he can do what he was afraid he couldn’t do.” – Henry Ford

“Fear can’t hurt you. When it washes over you, give it no power. It’s a snake with no venom. Remember that. That knowledge can save you.” –Maureen Johnson

The Power of Not Resisting

free womanAs Dr. Reid Wilson (www.anxieties.com) was saying yesterday, we only have OCD or any anxiety disorder if we are resisting what is coming to us in our thoughts and feelings (automatic thoughts that just show up in our minds and/or feelings that we are feeling in THAT moment, each and every moment).

Think about that for a minute. Don’t think about your particular thoughts or feelings that you hate. Just think about what he said in general. Look how hard we work at trying to get rid of thoughts and feelings. If we WORKED at not resisting them instead, what would happen? I mean, what REAL harm can come to us if we don’t resist what thoughts show up in our heads at any given moment or feelings we are experiencing at any moment? Actually, nothing REAL could happen to us. So how about we cut the resisting part out (work at it), and TRUST, just for a day or 2 or 3, that this could quite possibly be the only thing we need to do to free us from our “powerful” afflictions that we have in our thoughts and feelings.

I can attest to it 100% that when l resist the thoughts and feelings that come to me in that moment, (by demanding that they leave or change), l keep my anxiety disorder in motion. I can also attest that when l don’t resist and just sort of work on leaving my random thoughts and feelings alone, my anxiety disorder really does truly start easing up and backing off. The only other piece l have found is that once l do the above, I then need to get on with my life in that moment (each and every one), regardless of certain thoughts that may be there or feelings that l may be experiencing in that moment.

Give yourself a break and work at not resisting. You will not be disappointed with the results. It’s no more complicated than that.

5 Powerful Steps to Help You Overcome Anxiety

happy peopleMost if not all people have experienced some level of anxiety at some point in their lives. Whether it’s trying something new, meeting someone for the first time, or facing a fear, there are moments in our lives in which we have to overcome anxiety in order to move on with our lives and function in a normal life setting.

Not everyone experiences severe or extreme anxiety. Sometimes anxiety can be so overwhelming for a person that he or she is unable to function or carry out normal daily tasks. In these cases, it is important for a person to not only know some steps they can take to help relieve this anxiety but also how to seek help to overcome the anxiety in the long run.

Here are a 5 few steps you can take when you feel anxious:

1. Recognize the Signs of Your Anxiety – Take note of what makes you feel anxious, and note the signs of panic. Literally write them down if you need. Sometimes writing or listing these signs or symptoms out can help us recognize them and better understand them as they start to happen when anxiety comes on.

2. Take a Few Deep Breaths – When you are in a state of panic or are feeling anxious, adrenaline is released into your body. Taking a few deep breaths will help your body to burn off that adrenaline and calm down. Count to four as you are taking deep breaths to ease your mind and focus on thinking clearly.

3. List Your Fears – Most of the time what you are afraid of is not always as urgent as you make it out to be in your mind. Listing out fears or triggers of your anxiety will help you identify the cause. By listing these out when you are not anxious, you can think more clearly about what you are really anxious about and how to stop those negative thoughts from flooding your mind.

4. Check the Facts – With anxiety often come negative thoughts. Many times when we are experiencing fear or anxiety, we begin to think untrue negative thoughts that are just that – thoughts. Realize that these aren’t hard, cold facts; they are simply made-up negative thoughts. Before you get yourself in too deep with these thoughts, list out the facts of the situation and focus on those instead of the “what-if’s.”

5. Think Positively – Like I stated in the previous step, anxiety and fear tend to trigger us to have many negative, untrue thoughts. When you begin to have these thoughts, stop and realize it and begin to turn them into positive thoughts. Thinking positively can help relieve the anxiety and help you to feel calm and be more relaxed.

If you are experiencing anxiety on a more frequent basis and it prevents you from performing regular daily activities, give me a call at (636) 236-2267. Let’s talk about what is bothering you and how I can help you take these steps along with some others to help you overcome your anxiety. You don’t have to let it run your life!

Is Your Child Showing Signs of OCD?

child with ocdMany times when we think of someone who has OCD, we think of an adult or even a young teen, but rarely a child; however, one in 200 children suffers from OCD. Keep in mind that all children have fears, worries, or negative thoughts at times. If your child continues to have these negative thoughts, which lead to compulsive behavior, they could be showing signs of OCD.

Some obsessive thoughts that happen with children suffering from OCD include:

  • Excessive preoccupation of germs, dirt, or illness
  • Repeatedly expressing their fears and doubts (i.e. if the stove is turned off)
  • Intrusive thoughts about a parent getting hurt
  • Unreasonable attention to detail
  • Excessive worrying about something bad happening such as a car accident or home intruder

Some examples of compulsive behaviors in children can be:

  • Excessive hand washing
  • Checking to make sure items are turned off or doors are locked
  • Excessive counting and recounting
  • Rigidly following rules set by themselves such as arranging items or toys in a particular way and getting upset when that alignment or arrangement is disturbed
  • Repeating words, numbers, or sounds to him or herself

Treatment for children with OCD can be accomplished in many ways. I have suffered from OCD for 33 years and have learned to overcome the obstacles and fears that OCD has added to my life. I have not only helped numerous children with their symptoms but also the parents of these children. It’s important to know as a parent of a child with OCD that we empower them to overcome their symptoms and not enable them to succumb to their fears and anxiety brought on by OCD.

If your child is showing signs of OCD or has been diagnosed with OCD, contact me today at (636) 236-2267. Together we can conquer this debilitating disorder and restore your child’s confidence by helping break the cycle of OCD!

Dream into Reality

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A goal is a dream with a deadline.  Figure out what your dream is…….this is the only life you have to live so what the hell.  Don’t think small or cut yourself short like we always tend to do. Link up inside yourself with what is important to YOU and only you.  This is 100% your life.  You have the right.  That’s not selfish.  It is self  growth.  Doesn’t it make sense to take your life and try to make it the very best, productive , fulfilled, and powerful you possibly can?  So figure out your ultimate dream, not whether you think you can attain it or not.  Just have some guts, figure it out, and write it down.  Doing just that is very hard to do……really hard.  I haven’t done it yet.  I always keep putting it off but I will do it today.  After you write it down, attach a deadline to it.  I know this may feel fake and  like make-believe but just try it anyway.  We don’t know everything we think we do.  Then work backwards.  If your deadline is 3 years to attain it then write down where you would expect to be in 2.5 years in your dream becoming real.  Then do the same thing with 2 years, 1.5, 1, 6 months, 3 months, 2, and 1 for example.  Then you know where to start and what to do if you want to reach that 1 month deadline and so forth.  Go for it.  Try it.  There’s nothing to lose only a great life by not doing it.  If a bunch of questions come up about how and reasons why it won’t work, then know that that is your friend who follows you around all the time……fear.  Analyzing why this won’t work or improve your life is just that.  We have no idea unless we try, no matter what our thoughts tell us ahead of time.  Don’t kid yourself, its fear.  I know this to be the case with myself.  Action trumps fear and thinking, but it does require movement as opposed to comfortable, relaxed, safe, cynical analysis.  That whole “play it safe easy way route” will continue to give us the mediocre, unfulfilled life it always gives.   If you aren’t up for doing it, at least don’t give those who are a hard time about it.  If you are up for doing it, nice job and let’s go.  Everything we want is always on the other side of fear.  Action gets us there.

6 Ways You Can Help Someone Who Is Suffering From Depression

depression helpIt can be tough to watch someone you care about suffer from depression. You will probably struggle with helplessness and frustration as you search for ways to help your loved one in any way you can. Many times, too, a person who has depression is looking for help of some sort but isn’t sure where or how to start.

Here are 6 ways you can give even just a little bit of help to that person in your life.

*Be a good listener. If your loved one wants to talk about what’s bothering them, be attentive and caring. Remember that he or she might not be speaking well right now and might even speak more slowly and less clearly. Just do what you can to be patient and don’t interrupt.

*Take care of the pesky little tasks that need to be done around the home. Do the laundry, wash the dishes, keep things tidy, and make sure that the dog or cat is fed as well. Most importantly, do these things with love – never complain in front of the depressed person. It will only make him or her feel worse.

*Always keep in mind that the depressed person is not being lazy. Remember a time when you felt so sick that you could barely get yourself to get up to go to the bathroom. That’s what depression feels like, and it’s constant. Keep this in mind when you’re trying to help that person in your life.

*Depression is a hard, sometimes impossible battle to fight alone. Encourage this person to receive professional help for their depression if he or she hasn’t received any yet. If treatment has already begun, do what you can to ensure that he or she is keeping doctor appointments and doing whatever the doctor says.

*If the depressed person begins to talk about self-harm, take it seriously. Call the doctor for advice on what to do.

*Finally, remember to take care of yourself in the process. Helping someone deal with depression can be taxing. Remember that your feelings of anger, frustration, and helplessness are valid. Talk to someone about it, and make sure that you do things that make you happy as well.

Like I said before, depression can be an incredibly difficult battle, especially if you attempt to go it alone. The great thing is that you don’t have to! Join us for one or both of our two support groups in St. Louis. Contact me at (636) 236-2267 for more information!

Strength In Weakness

When we feel our absolute worst is when our greatest opportunity is for growth. When you are in this state don’t fight it or feel bad about it but do some small productive action. When we do do this we send a powerful message to our brain that our moods and feelings are not in charge…the best part of who we are is. When this is done on a repeated basis what happens?  What would be different about your life if you actually lived like this?

Act As If

 

Act As If

If your ultimate goal or dream came true how would YOU be different?  Would anything be different about your energy level, your sense of happiness, your attitude, your outlook on life and others? The way you would think, the way you would carry yourself, the way you would interact with others, your confidence level?  Would you still have the same worries and concerns?  So, “act as if.”  Act as if you have already arrived.  Be that person now and you will arrive sooner because you are being that now and how we “be” determines what we get.  Typical thinking has it backwards.  Typical thinking thinks the order is:  Have, Do, Be.  How backward that is.  The most powerful and effective order is:  Be, Do, Have.  By being that which we want, life will change for us and others around us… which will then create more opportunities for us to do that which will cause us to have more of what we powerfully want.  As a bonus, by acting as if we have already arrived we live a life of purpose, power, and happiness the moment we choose to begin.  Why not begin now?  Is there anything to lose?  Is there anything to be gained?

What You Need to Know about Children with OCD

All children have different fears, worries, and doubts, but children with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) are unable to stop these thoughts or worries. This then compels them to carry out certain behaviors over and over again. For children with OCD, it may be more difficult for them to explain why they feel worry or doubt and why they carry out ritualistic behaviors.

It is important to know and always keep in mind that OCD is never a child’s fault. One way to help the child is to make sure that they receive treatment. Treatment is not only important for the child suffering from OCD but also for the parents to understand how they need to interact with their child to help and empower their child and not enable his or her behaviors.

Each child is different and will improve at different rates, so please don’t compare your child’s progress with another’s child or even to how your child was doing the day before. There will always be days that seem better or worse than others. Just stay positive and recognize any improvement that they display with praise and positive reinforcement.

It is also important to help keep routines for your child and also for your family. Inform other family members and people close to the child so they can be aware of routines and different strategies or techniques that should be used to help your child progress with his or her treatment. Don’t let OCD control the family or household! Giving in to OCD worries or rituals will not help them go away; in fact, in most cases, it only makes the OCD worse.

Having a child who is suffering from OCD is never easy, but you CAN help your child recover! Stay strong and never give up!

Inaction

MOVE……..unless you are dead.  Otherwise, no excuse.  You don’t have to wait until you are in a good mood before you move.  You don’t have to feel good about moving before you move.  You don’t even have to know what you are gonna do before you move to move.  All you have to do is move.  Yes, even when you are angry, vulnerable, weak, lost, confused, down, or 100% non motivated.  None of those things are required to move.  To move you only have to what?  And then see what goes from there.

Thinking

When you are thinking ask yourself if it is serving you.  If it isn’t consider pure action instead in the absence of intentional thought.  Try not thinking and only doing the very next thing there is to do only.  Work at it.  There is nothing wrong with thinking but it sure would be nice to not have to.  Try more unabated action instead.

MOVEMENT

Do thoughts have to stop our forward momentum?  Thoughts are thoughts.  Actions are actions. Why do intrusive, negative thoughts or worries have to directly affect what we do?  Do we all of the sudden become physically paralyzed when our brain is having a negative thought?  Experiment and see if you can move  and go forward regardless of what is going on in your head.  See if you can separate the 2.  How cool would it be to be able to move, do, and live regardless of what is going on upstairs even if the thought is or seems relevant.  You talk about being free!!

Presence

Fall in love with no resistance to what is and watch what happens.  This isn’t to imply that you never do anything about it.

Move Toward the Roar!

Take a moment to think about all of the good things in your life – your friends, your family, your favorite foods, drinks, and activities. Does thinking about these things fill you up with joy? Of course! You’re probably even thinking of calling up your friends to see if they want to do some of your favorite activities or if they want to go eat at your favorite restaurant together.

Now think about some of the things that scare you, some of your greatest fears. How do you feel thinking about these things? Anxious, right? It’s natural to feel fear when it comes to the things that scare us the most, whether it’s heights, snakes, public speaking, or any other thing under the sun. It’s also natural to want to stop thinking about these things as well, to retreat and seek shelter.

Oddly enough, however, when it comes to overcoming your fears, the safest place for you to be is closest to the things that scare you!

Equate facing your fear with paddling out to the middle of one of the Great Lakes or an ocean. When you start at the shoreline, the waves undulate and do their best to force you back. It takes quite a bit of force, patience, determination, and courage to keep pushing past the waves and currents and out to open water. Once you get there, though, you’ll find that the deep waters are calm.

Getting over our fears is very similar to the scenario above. It’s very hard work, and the waves (your fears) will work to push you back into submissiveness. Of course, you can let them, but it will only cause your victory over your fears to be delayed and harder to obtain each time you let the fear win. Moving toward the roar (your fear) won’t come naturally – after all, you’re essentially retraining the fight or flight response within yourself. Trust me when I say that it is absolutely worth the battle!

Look your fear directly in the eye and don’t back down, no matter what. No matter how afraid or tired you feel, choose to go forward and face it. I promise, your fears will shrink if you race toward them. Sure, the task of provoking your symptoms requires courage, but you’re much stronger than you think. Even if you’re afraid, it’s okay – be afraid and keep running toward your fear anyway. Choose to do the work now and the benefits of freedom are soon to follow.

Remember, the deepest part of the waters – the closest you are to your fears – is the scariest place, but it really is the calmest. Be brave and move into the deep waters. See what happens. You won’t be disappointed.

OCD Recovery Is Achieved By Pursuing and Doing the Opposite

If you suffer from OCD – that is, obsessive compulsive disorder – you know how your anxious thoughts and worries make you feel powerless and hold you captive. You’ve probably searched for a way to get permanent relief. You know (or think you know) that obeying your compulsions will help you make the anxiety “go away,” but you find that you will just suffer through the whole ordeal once that unwanted thought comes back into your head.

Put this way, OCD sounds like a terrifying disorder that absolutely binds its “victims” and coaxes them into believing that those intrusive, repetitive thoughts will only go away IF you obey your compulsions, that you will never rid yourself of the disorder itself. I am telling you here and now, that is a bold-faced lie, and the sooner you move onto facing your OCD head-on, the faster you will get your life back.

Can you recover from OCD? Absolutely, you can. The trick to doing so is counter-intuitive, though. Instead of searching for the relief you desperately seek, you must search out resilience. Believe me, by seeking out resilience, relief will find you.

How is this done, though? By Exposure Response Prevent (ERP or simply put, exposure), you will come face-to-face with your fears until what scares you the most no longer has a hold on you. Yes, it sounds like exhausting work, but it is so worth it because once you accomplish it, you’re free. Start by taking the fear that bothers you and purposely bringing it to your awareness. Your goal is to make yourself anxious so that you can prove to your brain that the obsession is irrelevant and that you’re done running away. You’ll feel so much empowerment and joy after it’s all over!

You might be thinking, “Really? I have to MAKE myself afraid in order to interrupt the OCD cycle?” The answer is yes, you really do need to. In fact, the safest place is moving toward the fear. When you try to chase it out of your head, you’re doing nothing but guaranteeing its return. On the other hand, when you move toward it, feel it, and embrace it on purpose, you have diminished the power that the obsession holds over you, and it will leave on its own. It’s all about scaring yourself fearless!

As soon as the exposure is over, go on with your life – no matter how weird or lousy you feel. It will give you strength. Sometimes, too, things will happen to you in the middle of your day that make you anxious. When and if this happens, just remember that you’re okay and that it’s another opportunity to embrace the anxiety you feel. Hold onto those feelings. You’ll find that you strip them of their power the more you show your brave face and become a master of your destiny instead of a “victim” of a disorder.

Remember, when you feel like quitting, when you feel like the exposure is way too much for you to handle, don’t stop. You are SO CLOSE to freeing yourself from the anxiety and making a breakthrough. Stay strong. Hold on. Remember always, you are the closest to your freedom when you are the most afraid. Just hang on!

Through your journey with OCD, don’t go it all alone. Do your exposures, go to support groups, and keep trying! You can also find me on my website at www.gregorysansone.com. Get on my mailing list, get in touch with me, and keep making those exposures your top priority in your life. Then will you discover the road to overcoming OCD and regaining the freedom that is yours and yours alone!

Encouragement

My outlook must be bigger and stronger than my fear.

Live free of mental fear and emotional fear that holds us back.

Go unready.

You must believe in the treatment.

Refuse to feed OCD anymore – starve it!

“If I imagine something inappropriate then that means I’m a bad person and I can’t handle that!”….versus “If I imagine something inappropriate then I’ll feel uncertain and anxious. And I CAN handle that.”

Anxious? Here is Help

calm-ocean-and-blue-sky_00436339

Be brave, courageous. Let go of being in control and worrying about losing that edge. And go on anyway. That’s courage.

Try to sit with your anxiety. It’s the trying that’s important. The invasive thoughts will occur. Just keep trying to refocus on what you are reading, watching on TV, etc.

You will find out that you can go on in the face of the anxiety, that you will not “Lose your mind.”

Call fear and OCD’s bluff and discover if what you fear is true. Don’t believe anything. Don’t believe your thoughts. Find out if it is true through actions. No thoughts. Fear hates discovery and choice because it unveils the empty threat.

Anything you can do to interrupt the loop will start to create new neural pathways. This is when the hard-wiring that has been going on, because of the anxiety, will begin to stop.

3 Ways to Deal with Anxiety

1) Negative: being intolerant, looking to escape, avoiding, relief seeking

2) Neutral: Ignore, going on with things without responding to the anxiety, just shifting focus

3) Positive: Choose to make space for it to be there. Acknowledge its presence and allow it to remind you as often as need be that it is still there and then do a healthy behavior anyway.

 

Action

If Laziness did not exist,

what would I do today?

This Week’s Insights

bravery

The content of your obsession is irrelevant.

Go hard towards uncertainty with courage and wanting it. Don’t protect. Attack OCD’s territory.

Refuse to be comfortable or certain.

Accept and be willing to be influenced by the moment, environment, discomfort/pain.

Be awkward, clumsy, and uncertain. Our brains have to deal with variability: in environment, in movement, in life.

What to Do When You Feel Panicky

(Objectify, quantify, assess, & duration)

1) Describe the sensation/experience. What do you feel? – Heart, lungs, muscles,… which muscles feel tense? Create an analogy, i.e. ‘my stomach feels like someone is twisting a towel’, ‘the pain in my head feels like someone is driving a spike through it.’

2) Measure the intensity on a 1-10 scale. Rate the level of anxiety.

3) Honestly ask yourself, can I stand this?…do I have room in my life to experience this right now. Recognize your choices. Willingly enduring the anxiety without bailing out or bailing out and seeking relief.

4) If you decide to endure it, pick a period of time like 10 minutes. If you choose not to endure the feeling, try breath exercises or muscle relaxation or focus attention on an object outside of your body. If it’s not worth the struggle to be tolerant, bail out anyway. That is still available to you.

5) Challenge the experience to get worse. Dare the anxiety to increase.

 

If any of you try this, I’d like to hear how it worked or didn’t work for you.Let me know.

Insights into Fighting OCD

“When you’re going through hell, keep moving.”

Before doing ERP – alter your mindset by ‘wanting anxiety’ and then act on that frame of reference as you engage in that feared situation.

Say to yourself “I can tolerate this happening. I want this to happen, I choose it – I really want it to keep happening – I win if it keeps happening!”

My job is to provoke more doubt, anxiety, and uncertainty than I think I can tolerate.

Medication As A Crutch?

I used to think if I took medicine for my obsessions, compulsions, and depression that I was weak or cheating. “I should be enough of a man to handle my problems and not need medicine,” I would think.

How long would it take me to realize that willpower pales in comparison to intelligence? If you’re trying to dig yourself out of a problem and have a lot of willpower, that is good. It is not good when your efforts to dig yourself out only make you worse. In this example it is obvious that you won’t succeed by willpower alone. Rather, it takes intelligence to step back and look at your situation. If you realize you aren’t getting any better by your present course of action, then you need a new course. It is even more admirable and noble to ask other’s opinions, that you respect, as to what their opinion is regarding the course of action you have chosen for your recovery. At least consider what those who truly love you have to say. You don’t have to do it, but at least seriously consider what they have to say. What do you value more, intelligence or willpower?

I value both, but not one without the other. Mules have willpower. Wise people have intelligence which they can use to figure out the best course of action (based on objective data not ego or shame or embarrassment) and they then use that awesome willpower to implement that plan to success.

The real crutch for those of us who have OCD and/or depression is the easy, comfortable, powerless choices we make in response to our condition. Some of those choices can be avoiding, sleeping,isolating, compulsing, controlling, drinking, and many more. Medicine, when used responsibly and intelligently, is no more of a crutch than willpower. We know willpower is not a crutch.

Be an intelligent person. If you are spinning your wheels (based on an honest, objective view point) try another course of action. That is hardly a crutch, rather, that is a refusal to live the one and only life you have based on stupidity.

If medicine seems to be the next reasonable course of action, take it and discover what happens. You can always choose a new course. One of the components of OCD and depression is that we aren’t seeing things clearly. Listen to people that, in your heart of hearts, you truly believe love you and want you happy.

Be the smartest, informed person you can be.

Never quit.

Depression

 

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In my personal experience, dealing with depression has been more difficult than dealing with fear. This is not to take anything away from fear, for it can be quite daunting. It’s just that depression seems to have more to it for me.  When I was depressed, I would draw conclusions about how the world is, how God is, and how life is… big mistake. When we are depressed, we are actually altered. And what we see and conclude and feel is a result of the effect of the depression on us at the time. So it’s not to be trusted or lived by. One effective method for me, in dealing with depression, is to ACT. ‘Thinking’ is the wrong thing to do. When the therapist would tell me I needed to exercise to feel better, I thought he was nuts. In my mind, I would exercise when I felt better, not before. This is the exact opposite thing to do in overcoming depression. So again, I had to be at odds with myself and do exactly what I didn’t want to do….exercise. Medication was also helpful as was staying in motion. This consequently helped me think less about my depression. Being around family and people that cared about me also made a difference. It was helpful that these people expected me to try to get better. So I didn’t want to disappoint. It forced me to literally push myself further than i thought I was capable of in a given moment while jogging. I really didn’t notice the benefit as much then as I did so 2 or 3 weeks later. I did feel better just not on a very large scale, but I trusted that my efforts would pay off or at the very least I would die trying. This gave me some sense of control which was very important at the time. Enlisting the help of others to call me and check up on me to make sure I was being active and not giving into the depression by sleeping and isolating was very important in my recovery. Starting a support group was also a turning point for me. Connecting with others who were going through the same thing helped me to work harder on getting better.

Depression was the most difficult experience I have ever had to deal with in my life. For someone who is depressed now, my advice to you is to be your worst enemy by doing that which you hate even if the performance is poor. What matters is your asserting yourself beyond the experience you are presently having. This puts you in charge and ultimately breaks through the condition to the point where you start feeling better. Do not feel sorry for yourself. Try not to approach this by being fragile and desperate but rather look it as a war you must fight to the very end. This is what brought me out of it. And always remember the messages, opinions, and conclusions that you form while you are depressed are a lie. Just get up and move.

OCD & Certainty

OCD demands certainty in order for us to be safe and happy. In reality, listening to OCD guarantees us danger and misery.

In living a healthy life we don’t pursue perfect safety, rather, we commit our lives to growth and adapt to change.

More Tools for Extreme Anxiety

As promised, here are a few more statements and thoughts for you to use when dealing with intense anxiety.

 

1) I’m gonna let it roll. I’m gonna let the thoughts and the anxiety be there and see what happens.

2) Let it be in the space.

3) You’re stronger if you can allow yourself to feel remarkably weak.

4) Just soak it in.

5) I’m just going to be how I am and I’m not gonna do that stuff I was doing.

6) Be and feel weak and just go on with your day. Accept and get used to it.

7) I’m prepared to shake it all up.

8) It’s exciting to see you go through this growth. Let’s see how far we can do this.

9) I’m still here.

10) Don’t know if I can handle it, but I’m just going in anyway.

Life

Never give up unless you want certain unhappiness and certain death within yourself. Life is meant to be lived fully alive, within and without, whenever possible.

You don’t need a guide or manual on how to live the specifics of your life. Things will naturally flow for you once you powerfully determine that you are going to give it 100%. It truly is what you make it. If you are feeling sorry for yourself and bitter and resentful at life and people for the bad events and breaks that have come your way GET OFF IT. The feeling sorry road for yourself is the wrong road. It leads to further sadness, misery, and despair. Dig down deep within yourself, step-up within and without and take your life over moment by moment. Keep your life adventurous, exciting, and/or stimulating for yourself no matter what it takes. You won’t be any good for yourself or anyone else unless you are alive and happy within and outside of yourself.

Keep negative folks away from you that aren’t interested in helping themselves. Move on and find positive and uplifting forces in your life that will propel you through your life in an exciting, fulfilling way. Whatever fears you have that hold you back, face them and work through them. Otherwise, you will regret it when your life is over. You will know that you sold out to the negative and you will realize that you didn’t step-up. When life hits you the hardest, in the pit of your stomach, when you feel like a vulnerable, helpless child with no strength, confidence or certainty…HANG ON. Hang on because this is the final moment you must go through before you can graduate to the next level of greatness. And if you hold on you definitely will automatically move past it to fresh, greener pastures even though they are  invisible at that time. The only one that can kill your spirit or ruin you is you. You have yourself to blame only, period.

Find your Passion, your Dream, your Bliss. No matter what it takes, find it. This why God has you here. What you naturally love to do is who you are at your core to a great degree. Find this, claim, honor it, and engage your life with it as much as possible. Surpass the fear and allow it to take you where it may. This will be your contribution to the world. Don’t ask too many questions about it, just try it first and then talk about it.

Life is moving through you and at some point it will leave you. Seize it, claim it, own it, and engage yourself fully in it. This is your gift to God that you leave after life has moved through you.

Don’t let the fear of being laughed at and not fitting in, and failure, and death hold you back. NONSENSE. None of them mean anything. What means something is the caliber and quality of the person you are…your integrity and character. These are the things that are immortal and go on forever affecting generation after generation. You have a huge responsibility to seize your life and your bliss. Because, whether you like it or not, you are shaping future generations by who you are now, moment by moment, day by day.

If you do nothing, you have just done something. There is no middle road. We just fool ourselves into thinking there is. Help the world. Make it a better place. Start with one act, one persona at a time. And feel good about yourself for this because you are living a God-like life in helping and inspiring what he has created. How beautiful and inspiring that is.

Start with the ones physically around you right now. Show acts of love and kindness and empowerment to them. Be inspired and you will inspire those around you. That chain will continue unless you are the weak link that doesn’t do your part.

Look at the miracles that are right in front of you. Really look at them with your heart and experience them. Start with your life. Why in the world do you have one? What did you do to deserve it? I call that a beautiful mysterious miracle. If that is not enough, look at newborn babies and nature and experience them as much as possible. Look for the small miracles all around you.

When you feel your most down, go help someone else. Get out of yourself and move for someone else, even though it may hurt physically and emotionally to do so. This will bring you out of it. You are breaking the pattern.

If you accept life fully, the good and the ugly, then you can’t help but be moved in a deeply spiritual way. Joy and sadness come together as an emotion and you will experience a spiritual groundedness. Accepting and embracing all of life gives us peace and helps to ground us.

We are nothing less than spoiled rotten children if we don’t help to make the world a better place. Help the person next to you and your needs will be met.

Tools for Extreme Anxiety

This will be the first of several blogs where I will share tools that have worked for me when dealing with extreme anxiety. Sometimes a simple statement can make the difference in a day rife with anxiety. Tell yourself any one of these tools and sit with the thoughts it creates….then see what happens. Allow yourself to feel the discomfort. It will eventually dissipate in time and make you stronger for the next go-around with anxiety.

1)  Acceptance that “I am where I am and I’m just gonna be where I’m at and I’m gonna proceed anyway and see what happens.”

2) UNRESOLVED…..leave it.

3) Profoundly allow yourself to feel anxious and  just see what happens.

4) Be and feel weak and just go on with the day….accept and get used to it.

5) The only way is not to play.

Stay strong. I’ll be back to share more another day.

OCD and Anxiety

OCD AND ANXIETY

You are not your OCD

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder consists of intrusive and unwanted thoughts, images, and urges which cause anxiety. In one’s attempt to reduce anxiety, repetitive rituals are performed which continues to feed the OCD cycle and make it worse.

OCD may manifest itself in various ways.

ERP is the gold standard treatment for OCD. It’s the act of doing the opposite of what you want to do during an anxious moment. This may seem counterintuitive at the time but it is exactly what is needed to recondition our amygdala, which is responsible for alerting us to danger. The beauty of ERP is that for the first time we are put in a position of control and choice as it relates to our OCD. At the risk of oversimplifying ERP it can be equated to jumping into a cold swimming pool and staying in it long enough to the point of being no longer cold to you. This process is called habituation where we expose ourselves to exactly what we are wanting to avoid. This is done on a repeated basis until it no longer causes any discomfort. This has been the most effective treatment for overcoming OCD. It definitely was for mine. The more aggressive you are willing to be with ERP the sooner it will get better.

When we are afflicted by OCD and anxiety one fact which is overlooked is that if we allow our anxiety to become at the highest level possible without interruption, it will NATURALLY begin to decrease on its own. This is where the real healing takes place.

Sometimes it may appear confusing as to what is OCD and what is real. One effective technique is to realize that when you feel that you must do something right now before you can go on, you are in OCD land. Another red flag is when you have no sense of free choice in the moment. You MUST do this NOW in order to get rid of this NOW.

OCD causes us to doubt and demands certainty. The problem with a 100% demand for certainty is that no one has that available to them. In OCD our alarm system tells us without this guaranteed certainty we are in grave danger. In reality we are not but to the OCD sufferer they feel in complete and total danger. Quite a quandary. A very effective method in dealing with this quagmire is to work towards increasing one’s tolerance for uncertainty. I know that sounds like a completely foreign notion but from someone who has been there, in time it will not be foreign to you. So the question is how do we increase our tolerance for uncertainty? First of all it’s important to note that we comfortably go about our lives doing things that are uncertain a vast majority of the time. The difference is it is just not the focus of our worry at the time. So the question becomes how do we become unconcerned about things that are unreasonable to be concerned about. The most effective path in accomplishing this is undoubtedly ERP.

OCD RADIO SHOW

Hi everyone.  I did a radio show this morning on 1380 am on OCD.  I am so grateful I had the opportunity to reach out to fellow sufferrers who are living in silence and shame with their secret. 

The message I want to send out to you is that I have been where you are with no help or relief in site.  The reality is that you are not alone, you are not crazy, your secret thoughts and things you do to feel safe that you are ashamed of are so remarkably common.  I also want to tell you that what you are struggling with is not you.  It is your OCD and there is a big difference between the two.  You can definitely get better and have a happy life.  The first step for you could be to go to our support group.  You don’t have to say a word if you don’t want to.  Just observe and listen.  You will be amazed at how common your “higly unusual” thoughts and rituals are.  Come to group.  It very well may change your life.  I think it will.  It did mine.

The group is called ShowMeOCD.  I started this 3 years ago and CenterPointe Hospital sponsors it along with more on the way.  Stay tuned.  We meet every Wednesday evening from 7 to 9 pm at the CenterPointe building located at 763 South New Ballas road in creve coeur, suite 130.  There is no charge and the only requirement to attending is that you are struggling with OCD and/or Anxiety.

Would love to hear from you.  I have been through the mill with this condition and I have come through it.  I have come to believe that it is my calling to share my story and what I have learned that gave me back my life of happiness, to those of you who are sufferring, confused, anxious, feel alone and isolated and don’t know what to do.  Reach out if you would like and I will be glad to share everything I learned in successfully overcoming OCD and Anxiety.  Your life can be great.  It is far from hopeless.  I have been there. 

Thanks and talk soon,

Gregg

UNCERTAINTY and COMMITMENT

Okay here’s the deal,  I’m 50 and have had OCD since I was 18.  It pretty much came out of nowhere, although looking back it’s obvious I had the predisposition for it.  I know I should go in order and introduce myself and tell my story and all that, but today I’m just diving into something that will help me because I am feeling obsessive and anxious today about uncertainty as it relates to life and my well being.  Here’s the content of this particular obsession for me:  I had a very difficult stomach issue about 3 years ago where I had inflammation of the stomach lining. I was nauseous and had no appetite and felt tired and weak due to it.  I also was very depressed because It had just been 4 months since I came off the medicine I was on for OCD that I had been taking for 14 years.  I came off way too fast and the PSYCHOLOGIST that was advising me to come off it had no idea what he was doing in this area. He acted like it and because he had helped me so much in our therapy sessions with exposure and cognitive therapy, I believed him and went for it…big mistake.

Once the medicine was 100 percent out of my system, it caused me to feel depressed and I hadn’t done well with depression in the past.  Then I started feeling obsessive soon after  and now I didn’t have the help of the medicine to help me fight it.  In addition to this was my stomach issue, no desire for food or the opposite sex, the inability to enjoy a glass of wine, and the fact that a 4 year relationship I had with a woman had just come to an end. I was really worked over and did not feel good.  So I got back on medicine and back in therapy and aggressively started doing exposures. I met the woman of my total dreams, whom I am now married to, and I gradually got better.  Furthermore, I started a support group which helped me immensely. I also started a new business.  All of this helped in time and I am now doing well. Today, however, I had a visit from the common obsession that goes something like this:  “How do you know you won’t go back to feeling bad like you did before?What would you do if the worst happened and you got depressed and nauseous again and had terrible pains in your stomach, and NOTHING could help me, what would you do then? ”  I respond in my mind and say , well I could work out and do exposures………and what if that didn’t work?  Well I could check myself into the hospital and certainly they could take the pain and anguish away……..but what if they couldn’t and I just remained in pain and anguish and suffering with deep depression and OCD and NOTHING helped, what then?  So I tell myself, well there is an end in sight because ultimately I would die and I wouldn’t be in anguish anymore.  But what if after I died it carried on forever and ever and anguish and suffering never ended……..what then?  Maybe that’s what hell is and maybe I will go there and maybe….and maybe…..and maybe, maybe, maybe….. .   Beautiful thought process and concept indeed isn’t it?  Just lovely and uplifting and positive!!  Right?  Wrong.

So here is how I deal with the above.  First of all, It sucks.  Secondly, I stopped searching for certainty because that is what is feeding this evil villain.  “But how can I live with uncertainty?”  Honestly, I never knew before and sometimes I get back in that place like I feel the pull is today.  So here’s the deal, I don’t have certainty and we don’t on anything.  First reaction is that  sucks and that I can’t live like that because I’ll go crazy with that kind of fear OR get deeply depressed to where I can’t move and I just sit there and suffer in anguish.   So there’s no certainty…ultimately, and anything could happen……ultimately.   Okay, that’s reality, that’s it.  No that’s not it!   You forgot about one thing here….ME.   You see last time I checked, I have a choice here, as long as there is breath in my body.  So you see, life and reality and afterlife and hell can do whatever it wants to me but I still get to decide what I’m going to do right now…… BIG piece of this, not to be overlooked.  So now this is where I take over and I say “AS LONG AS THERE IS BREATH IN MY BODY, I WILL FIGHT THIS AND I WILL SPEND THE REST OF MY LIFE HELPING THOSE WHO ARE SUFFERING WITH THIS.”  That’s what I go with.  So it’s like, if you’re (OCD) threatening me all of my life that you’re going to destroy me, I don’t know if you will or won’t. What I do know is that I have a CHOICE as to wether I am going to live my life to the best of my ability or whether I am going to spend my precious days on earth worried about whether or not you are going to destroy me. I could spend my days ruminating about what I would do or how I would handle it if that happened.  That’s a loser’s game and I get to decide whether I am going to play it or not and SO DO YOU.  That whole notion can kiss my ass!  As long as I am alive I have a CHOICE and I will CHOOSE the courageous, powerful, sensible, life fulfilling one every time.  As long as I have a CHOICE as to whether you take me or not, I WILL exercise it……..EVERY time!  CHOOSE TO FIGHT.