Reply To: Scared pocd mum ?
Your thoughts are the opposite of who you are. They are thoughts that you find horrific and repugnant and they fill you with fear because thats the OPPOSITE of who you are. So you might have the question “why do they keep intruding into my head” and the answer is because they are causing you anxiety. Like anything fearful, (tiger coming out of the undergrowth) you would be an idiot to take your eyes off the undergrowth and relax. Instead when you are frightened by something, all your senses become 100% focused on it. Heart rate goes up, adrenaline gives butterflies, muscles tighten, eyes and ears go into focus overdrive. Those sensations are distressing and they keep you focused on something that in your heart, you know is not a danger but your mind is saying “yes but are you sure? Keep focused because the tiger might yet appear!”
So..how do you break this habit? You can continue trying as your doing (which as you have found DOES NOT WORK), which is avoid doing certain things that trigger the thought/anxiety and maybe youre also trying to “work out” if the horrible thinking means something sinister or will change you into someone you dont want to be. OR you can be brave and try doing the following.
First, understand that your hot thought (some call it a rumination or anxiety driven compulsive thought) is being driven by anxiety. If it came without the anxiety, it would be a normal thought, passing silently through your mind and disappearing. It comes back and causes distress because it is an imaginary tiger that you cant stop worrying about.
Next time you feel this ovewhelm you (or if your brave and strong you could go and lie down next to your daughter to bring the thought on and challenge it) i want you to focus not on the thought but on the anxiety. I want you to be CURIOUS. How is the anxiety manifesting itself. Enbrace it, invite it to do its worst. Let it wash through you. Feel it. Like riding a rollercoaster you will feel the adrenaline butterflies. You will feel your heart rate pick up and you might feel it in your throat. Your eyes will be wide, mouth dry, legs like jelly, shoulders hunched, breathing rate shallow and fast. These are all normal responses to help you flee or fight the tiger. Without these normal human responses we would not last long. Be grateful your body can do these things to keep you safe because without them you would be abnormal. So be curious what happens at the end . I can assure you you might feel exhausted, but thats all. No damage will be done things will be as they were before. Did you enjoy the rollercoaster? You must not be looking to stop it, but be genuinely embracing of it, say “come on then, what are you about.,.if i let you wash trough me at my command, and dont care and accept you anxiety, what happens?” Dont want it to end, but just remain curious and watchfull of the physical manifestations of your healthy human response.
Then everytime you have your intrusive thought, practice going straight to the default watching of anxiety. Like a curious hawk. Be amused by it. Change your approach to fear and it evaporates instantly. You need to build new neural default habits by practicing this everytime you have your ocd thinking (even new ones) and you will realise that without the injection of fear, these thoughts are just nonsense and they evaporate normally. Good luck and dont be scared to find someone to help you (CBT or acceptance therapy) because you wouldnt get physically fit without the help of a fitness instructor so why not seek advice for your mental fitness. Practice the acceptance of anxiety properly though and you might be amazed at how simple it can be. Do remember though that embracing anxiety means genuinely from the heart rather than just saying it in your head.