Timon

Looking for Advice on OCD

4 posts in this topic

Looking for Advice on OCD

Hi Everyone,

recently I have been contemplating my obsessive compulsive behaviours and how to approach them. To ask my question I need to provide some background of my life so this might get a bit long.

I was probably around 7-8 years old when my OCD started. At the time I was becoming very aware of the dangers of life and had developed pretty strong fears, mostly related to my family breaking apart and my own health. I had this idea (I don't know how I came up with it) that there was some sort of higher power that was watching me and deciding whether it was satisfied with what I did or not. If it was satisfied, my life would continue to go well, but if it was not satisfied, my worst fears would come true.

The things that I had to do to satisfy this "higher power" were things that were incredibly annoying and/or embarrassing. For example: touching certain objects, spinning myself in the "correct" direction, holding my breath for as long as I had to, counting things, saying things in my head or out loud etc. Whenever I was feeling particularly anxious I would do these behaviours extremely often. During most of my childhood and youth my entire life was dominated by this OCD. Sometimes it would take me half an hour to go to bed because I had to do the right things in exactly the right order so that I could sleep without too much fear. And if I messed them up I had to start it all over from the beginning.

So this was all extremely exhausting and also embarassing (for example when I had a soccer match and everyone could see if I was spinning in a circle) but I never talked to anyone about it because I didn't think that anyone would be able to understand what I was experiencing. My mother much later told me that whenever she saw me do something like that she just assumed that I was just doing some sort of child's play and that I was enjoying it.

When I was 16 I was starting to feel more confident and safe and my life was going really well. At one weekend that I was spending with friends I decided for myself that I wouldn't do these compulsive behaviours anymore. And I was feeling so safe and confident at the time that I actually managed to not do them for the entire weekend. It was much easier than I had expected and I felt more free than I had felt in a very long time.

But two days later, out of the blue (at least for me) my father killed himself. He was the most important person in my life. So my worst fear had come true and it was exactly at the time where I did not obey this "higher power" anymore. So I assumed that I had messed up and this was my punishment and I went back to being scared and doing all these things that I hated to do because otherwise I feared that my world will fall apart again. Over the past 8 years I have gotten into spirituality and also shadow work and my fears have become less strong and my OCD more manageable, but it is still there.

I am 32 years old now (pretty strange that I am exactly twice as old as I was when I stopped my compulsive behaviour for the first time).and recently it's like the Universe is trying to make me face my OCD more and showing me how much it hinders my ability to follow my intuition and taking inspired action. There are lots of situations where I feel like I want to do something that would feel good to me (even little things) but my OCD is telling me "no that would be wrong, you don't want to do that".

I have been working a lot with my inner child, the one who is afraid, who fears punishment from the Universe and thinks that you have to do things "right" in order to be "good". And I feel like this is helping a bit already and over time I can probably make some real progress.

But my question is: When I am in a situation where I sense that my intuition is telling me "do this" and my OCD/scared inner child is telling me "no don't do this, or else..." (or the other way round), what do I do? Is my belief of punishment still so strong that bad things would happen if I ignored my OCD, like they did when I was 16? Or should I follow my intuition no matter what?

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Just recently, I looked up the 4 virtues in Buddhism.  Your post made me think of these virtues.  They are: loving-kindness, compassion, empathetic joy, and equanimity.   I want to tell you about the first and last of those.

Loving-kindness or Metta.  This is having a heart that is open and filled with loving kindness, both for yourself and others.  Treat yourself as a person who is worthy of love, because you are.

Equanity.  This is the ability to look at things that happen and the things we have done in an objective way.  Carl Jung said "what you resist persists". So you can't resist what is bothering you but you must be able to remain objective.  You can feel your emotions without being carried away by them.  The type of meditation that practices this type of thing is called vipassana.  There is an app called Insight Timer and there are guided meditations.  One of my very favorites is an introduction to vipassana by Tara Brach.   I actually just finished following it before coming back to editing this post.

I think you are going to have to process those things that you obsess about (because what you resist persists) but you have to remain in our equanimity.  If you find your mind and emotions running away then you'll have to push it away, put it on hold, until you can get your objectively back.   Then later you might be able to come back to processing your feelings again.  

Please write back to tell the forum how things progress.

Edited by Scot
Vipassana info

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@waltI am sorry if my question has offended you in any way. It was not my intention to suck people into a discussion that they don't want to have. I was only looking for different perspectives and insights.

@Scot Your post makes perfect sense to me. Especially your comment about "Feeling your emotions without getting carried away by them" really hits home. I don't want to push my fears away but at the same time I don't want my life run by them.

I still wonder if what happened with my father was connected to the law of attraction and me ignoring my OCD  or if it was more like a coincidence.

I will report back how things progress. Thank you!

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Timon, I think @waltwas providing a warning that the people on this forum are not mental health experts.   There are a fair number of regular members on this forum who will be only too happy to give you their two cents worth but that may be all it's worth: $0.02. (Myself included).  I think having other perspectives can be a good thing but my advice would be to maintain your own perspective on their perspectives.  On the other hand, if you find a good counselor you might be able to put yourself into their hands and  trust their advice more readily. 

A couple more things:  Everyone needs to be just a little obsessional sometimes.  If we have some hard or important work to do being a little obsessional is in a way a good thing. We might choose the word "meticulous" or "perseverance" and those are positive qualities. But if we go too far then it's called "obsession".   I am a little obsessional too sometimes.  I got myself addicted to video games.  Lately I have been addicted to reading and posting on this forum.  Other than that, I don't know much about OCD.  But from your orginal post it seemed to me that your feelings and your mind were running away with you.  And I think vipassana is an exercise that specifically practices observing thoughts without being inside them.

Now, as far as the Law of Attraction and your father.  I could say a bunch of things but I think Life is much much bigger than you or I or anyone else realizes.  Your father had his own life and his own law of attraction pulling things into his life.  You stopping your compulsive behaviors would not cause such a strong pull in the universe to cause anyone else to end their own life.  Not possible in my honest opinion.

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