My Struggle With Pure-O and My Guide To Overcome It
Awhile back I came to this forum in search of an answer to a problem that, I believed, was ruining my life. It was one incendiary thought, that for no reason, I was repeating to myself over and over again. Time passed, and that led to one obsessive thought after the other. I had uncontrollable anxiety and panic attacks as a result, and worst of all, I was helpless to help myself. I saw therapists who (even thought they said they treated OCD) didn't understand that what I was having was clearly a biological and neurological problem, NOT a psychological problem. This wasn't repressed memories of my childhood coming out... this was chemicals in my brain that were out of balance.
And worst of all, I couldn't believe this was happening to me.
So I came here and quickly saw that I wasn't alone. That brought some comfort, but not much. I became even more anxious because there seemed to be NO way to control it... other than telling yourself "this too shall pass". And that wasn't working.
I'm used to doing everything myself, and fixing this I figured was no different. So here's what I did to overcome Pure-O. Some of this you may have heard, but I know some of it you haven't. I pray to God that this helps someone out there and quickly relieves some of your suffering. Keep in mind this is for Pure-O, as I've never experienced compulsions.
1. Buy and read the book "Brain Lock". I read many books on the topic, and this is the only one that actually knows what it's talking about. The next 2 steps here are from this book.
2. Reframe your obsessive thoughts. Whenever you're ruminating over a thought, say to yourself "it's not me, it's my OCD". By reframing the thought as something separate from your higher self, you're able to distinguish the difference and not get caught up in thinking that it's your higher self or the real "you" that is obsessing.
3. Refocus. The most important and effective step. You can go days without obsessing if you're properly occupied with something else. Easier said than done, but here's my trick: write out 30 notecards with things that refocus your mind in different ways. I.E. "go to the gym" or "take a hike" or "read for an hour" or "listen to music for 30 minutes" or "practice piano for an hour" or "watch a movie". When you find yourself obsessing, grab a random notecard and do the action listed. You can use your refocusing efforts to simultaneously improve yourself. Sitting idle when you have an obsession is the worst thing you can do.
(Also keep a list of things you'll be doing in the next few hours, days, weeks, months, etc. When you have a running list of things to do, your mind will start new trains of thought based on those things)
4. If you're having one persistent obsessive thought... here's a trick I discovered that quickly reduces it. Write out 10 words or things that RHYME with the thought you're having. Let's say you're thinking "I hate my boss". Come up with 10 things that rhyme with that thought, the more ridiculous the better. Like "A fate I toss" "masturbate across" "I'm late for moss" "a plate is lost". Whenever your brain starts to ruminate, just read aloud your rhyming words. This effectively breaks up the pattern, and confuses your brain. Like jamming a wrench in a wheel, you're dissolving the obsession up in your mind. If I had this trick earlier I may have never had more than one obsession.
5. Learn words in a foreign language. The interesting thing about obsessive thoughts is that they're words. Words are dead. They mean nothing and are just a set of symbols agreed upon by our particular society. When you learn a foreign language you realize this. So something obsessive in English might sound beautiful in French or Spanish. If you're able to think in 2 or 3 different languages, like the step before, the obsessions can't keep up with the ever-changing focus of your mind, and they dissolve when your attention shifts.
6. Read Buddhist literature. Listen to the CD's of Alan Watts, a great Eastern teacher who popularized Buddhism to the west. They all contain comforting passages which discuss the ever changing and impermanent nature of life, and how your TRUE nature is certainly not your thoughts, even though it might feel that way.
7. Meditate 20 minutes per day. Just sit quietly and strengthen the observer that watches thoughts go by. Your mind is a wild untamed elephant, and your breath is the post that you tie it to.
8. Never visit this forum, or do searches for OCD again. In fact I would say limit your internet use to essential tasks like e-mail only. Why? The internet is FULL of things that could spike obsessions... probably 90% of mine were caused by inadvertent things I saw or read on the internet. I realized that I probably would be completely over it by now if I had just done something else instead of surf the web. There's a program called "leechblock" for Firefox that allows you to block certain websites. Make this one of them. There's also a program called "freedom" for macs that blocks the internet for a specific amount of time if you can't seem to stay away.
So in keeping with #7, I will never come back to answer questions or post here again. I truly hoped that something in this helped you. There is a life outside of OCD. You didn't do anything to deserve it, and neither did I. We cannot possibly untangle the mystery and events that brought us here. We don't have the prescience to understand life's mysteries. Even though it feels very real, the mind and pain are a complete illusion... it's all smoke and mirrors and it's all a game. Instead of defining yourself by being helplessness, define yourself by overcoming it and take action. Remember that. Be in the present, connect with your breath, and go live. I send you all nothing but love and compassion.
Last edited by DC2389; 09-14-2010 at 08:23 PM.