Accepting/Embracing the bad Thoughts

1 January 2015 - 19:21

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I'm quite new to this forum. I've been trying to get to grips with my OCD for the past 2 years. Hard to say how much progress I've made(or if I have made any sometimes?), but I am in my 2nd round of CBT.

Something that has come up on the forum today, and has come up time and time again in books and on other forums, is this idea of not rejecting the thoughts; if you fight something it gives it more power; just let the thoughts be, accept them, dwell on them, embrace them; and apparently in doing so they lose their significance and associated anxiety, and presumably everything returns to normal.

I've got to say, that out of all the aspects of therapy, this one troubles me the most. For the obvious reasons - because OCD sufferers want to perform compulsions to put out that immediate fire and get a "hit" of short-term relief, and to begin with it feels very wrong not doing that. But I'm actually OK(well as OK as I'll ever be!) with the concept of not performing compulsions and I've made some significant in-roads with that in some areas. No, it's something else that doesn't sit right about it for me.

It seems to me that I have a problem with some of these doubts and thoughts for very good reason - because they are morally offensive to me, they are genuinely opposites, and that's why it feels so important to restate my position on them. And accepting them or embracing them feels morally irresponsible and very wrong on some level. e.g. do I really want to dwell on the thought of sexual intercourse with a child, a family member, etc? Do I really want to say "hey maybe I do want to hit mum over the head with that hammer?" and dwell on that for a while?

It feels like I am saying "yknow what, actually I don't care and it's ok if I'm into that after all". But the reality is that it is really is not OK if I am into that at all so I really struggle to say or think that about those things. It feels like I'm turning over "to the dark side" !

Now I'm also aware of the inherent trap in what I'm saying here and that, in many ways, I am simply describing the way OCD works and keeps us trapped, ... yet it feels like there is a discussion to be had here nonetheless.

So I 100% accept that we need to stop performing compulsions, and like I say I've managed to do that to some degree without this acceptance idea. But I'm not "better" if such a thing exists. So I wonder if it's really a necessary step to take, because as it stands I'm reluctant to undertake this acceptance approach unless I absolutely have to.

And by the way I have tried a few times to explore the idea but it derails pretty quickly and I end up rejecting it.

So am I doomed if I carry on this way, or is it possible to get better without doing that? Also is this acceptance idea what largely makes up ACT, as I've heard of it a couple of times but not read up about it. Clearly I'm lazy and could just google it at this point

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This post has been thanked 1 time. 3 January 2015 - 19:36

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Thanks for the reply Truddles.

So that seems to be along the same lines as what AttaStone said about not literally accepting/embracing but just letting the thoughts be there in a non-judgemental way. I'll give that post a read after this.

Interesting point of view. I did find Brain Lock very useful but I know not everyone is a fan of the 4 steps and there's other approaches. Would you mind expanding on what "referring you back to the OCD" means please? Is that something to do with the 4 steps becoming a compulsion in itself perhaps?

I think there are a couple of interesting semantic issues in play here.

First off, how people interpret words like accept/embrace/surrender: I think they can have some unfortunate overtones of actually giving into the thing you fear which is obviously not an option for our opposites and fears, so alarm bells start ringing when people start talking in those terms. Understandably I think.

Secondly, as far as I can tell this idea of "just let the thoughts be and don't engage them or you give them more importance", I believe translates to the idea of neural plasticity which I have found very helpful in resisting compulsions. Without referring to wikipedia(!) it just means that the brain naturally automatically reflects what we spend our time thinking about. Neural pathways emerge  when we start thinking about something or doing an activity and the more we think about it or do it those pathways are strengthened, to the point it becomes an automatic behaviour at some point(e.g. driving). But conversely, if we stop doing or thinking about it, the neural pathways will atrophy and disappear. I truly think these amount to the same thing. 

So maybe we need to be wary of how we interpret words and find our own interpretations of these things that work for us. All roads lead to Rome etc.

Otherwise I think there's a danger of taking a wrong approach or thinking you're failing because you can't do something you weren't supposed to do in the first place.

This post has been thanked 1 time. 4 January 2015 - 1:36

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The credit actually goes to a blogger named Caroline Ley over at Transitionaltherapy.co.uk 

Sorry, I forgot to tack that on the end there.

4 January 2015 - 1:52

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Quote:
The credit actually goes to a blogger named Caroline Ley over at Transitionaltherapy.co.uk  Sorry, I forgot to tack that on the end there.

Well that's very conscientious of you AttaStone but I reckon a lot of us regurgitate stuff we've read somewhere else without crediting it, so I think you would've been safe there

If I had to say where the things I said came from there wouldn't  be much left I don't think!

 

5 January 2015 - 17:27

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Hi Sisyphus,

I'm following Dr claire Weekes books at the moment, It worked before and I'm doing it again. It's accepting as best you can the thoughts, anxiety, depression anything really. To not avoid anxiety provoking situations. To head on face fears.. Go through the panic to the other side. I can only speak from my experience , but if you haven't already read it , I'd give it a shot. 

I'm starting a meditation mindfulness course, and I've seen a NLP therapist to calm me. I'm going through new obsessions daily ,it's like I milk each one dry, until in the end there is nothing left to fear. That's the point I'm waiting for, it feels like I'll never be myself again, but I know deep down I will, this is all I have in dark moments or bad days, is courage and hope that it won't be forever. everyone is different , but our bodies work the same, we need to train ourselves to stop fearing our fears in the intense way we do, once we can reduce the fears they can crawl back under their rock.      I have the greatest of sympathy , respect and praise for us all, we can all at least understand how difficult it is.  

Thanks for reading Carli x

5 January 2015 - 19:30

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Thanks Carli,

The book sounds interesting. Is there a name for this approach? I do wonder if it translates for some things and if it's advisable for some things. I get it with a someone who's afraid of using lifts for example, but what if it's something or someone who has previously caused you harm? Is it a good idea to force yourself to be around that? Perhaps there are caveats to it. But it sounds like an interesting approach.

What form does the meditation mindfulness course take?

Wow - if you're going through an obsession daily you should be feeling better in no time. I hope it works.

There are sometimes overlaps between the different approaches and hopefully it all helps build towards a better understanding and all round approach to overcoming this thing.

I admire your spirit and I hope the new stuff works wonders

David.

5 January 2015 - 20:12

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Hi David

There is no name to the approach. She was a pioneer back in the 70s with her methods. Most now have been I influenced by her work,

When I said about facing fears, I meant irrational ones, not real people for instance. No good would come of that well or ill.

Here's an extract
' a person tortured by obsession in my experience is always capable of understanding i'f fleetingly the truth. I have cured people from obsessions after Year's of orthodox treatment. '

She explains 'glimpsing' by teaching them to ser the truth behind an obsession often. To do this they think of their obsession and feel all the associated fear, then whilst flooded glimpse the truth.

She elaborates and it's a long difficult process. It's worth a go, it may appeal to u.

I'll keep posted about my progress.
Hopefully proof :0)
Carli

5 January 2015 - 21:43

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Quote:
' a person tortured by obsession in my experience is always capable of understanding i'f fleetingly the truth. I have cured people from obsessions after Year's of orthodox treatment. ' She explains 'glimpsing' by teaching them to ser the truth behind an obsession often. To do this they think of their obsession and feel all the associated fear, then whilst flooded glimpse the truth.

Wow I find that just fascinating because I think I may have been doing this or something similar. Not just sitting there not responding at all, and not responding with a compulsion, But actively refusing the compulsion, knowing it's just false/OCD and knowing the truth behind it. It takes some practise though. When it works it's instantaneous and feels like a little epiphany because you're not putting yourself through the misery of what you normally would and yet you're still seeing the truth behind it. It's not always possible though. But I have the odd day where I can do that a lot and those are great days for me. Probably in another 10000 years I'll have this thing licked

Oh and what you said about only the irrational fears - I seem to keep falling foul of these semantic misinterpretations of OCD terminology! Need to watch for that.

Yes please keep me informed how it goes. Thanks for the tip.

David.

This post has been thanked 1 time. 9 January 2015 - 19:16

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Ultimately I think the thing is that we need to recognise that there is a gap between thoughts and what we really feel. Thoughts come at us constantly, and they are often just nonsense. Most of the time we know that instinctively and don't even bother with them. But let's say I had a thought that for some reason I find unacceptable. Let's say someone has annoyed me and I fixate on the idea that he's from a different race. Let's say I thought some variation on: these people are so aggressive. Then my natural reaction might be to feel guilty and think, do I think that! How awful, I'm a terrible racist! Or in a calmer frame of mind, I could think: Do I really think that? No, I don't. That person was a bit aggressive but I don't really believe it's because of his race. It's probably to do with his upbringing.

This could also go for someone who is troubled by thinking they are a paedophile.

We have thoughts all the time and they do not necessarily represent how we really feel. We kind of have to break our strong connection to them.

Easier said than done!

9 January 2015 - 19:28

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Almost by definition, if you've got OCD and you're worrying that you're this or you're that, you're probably not. We OCD sufferers specialise in latching on to concepts.

9 January 2015 - 19:39

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Hello Mintpickle(great name that BTW).

I suppose the trick is to somehow viscerally know, in your heart, that the thoughts are just false OCD doubts without going through any actual process of rationalisation to remind yourself. I do struggle with this, and the trouble is the rationalisation just becomes a new compulsion. Major bummer man!

"Almost by definition, if you've got OCD and you're worrying that you're this or you're that, you're probably not. We OCD sufferers specialise in latching on to concepts."

Amen - that seems to be how it works.

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