Understanding White Bears and Obsessive Thoughts
Daniel Wegner was a famous social psychologist who conducted some fascinating research throughout his career. Specifically, in the mid to late 1980’s, Wegner conducted research regarding thought suppression and obsessive thoughts, which generated some fascinating results.
To breifly summarize, the participants in his studies were given the following instructions, “For the next five minutes, don’t think about White Bears.” Sounds pretty simple right? Yet, for some reason participants reported continuously thinking, even obsessing, about white bears during the whole five-minute period.
The participants reported trying to distract themselves from thoughts of White Bears, or trying to force other thoughts in their heads, but almost universally Wegner’s research concluded that the participants in his study had little success not thinking about White Bears. The thought seemed to just keep popping up again...
Accept, Sit and Breathe
Accept, Sit and Breathe is a process that is rooted in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. And when it comes to this process it is important to distinguish that accepting the presence of a thought, does not mean you accept the thought to be true. This idea of “acceptance” can be very scary for people with OCD….probably because OCD in its very nature involves “unacceptable thoughts.” But it important to realize that most people experience or have experienced the exact same thoughts you are experiencing – but they are able to simply brush it off as a weird thought. This is really the underlying difference between people that struggle with obsessive thoughts verses people who don’t.
So when it comes to “accepting” your obsessions…..try to think of it like being in an elevator with a person you don’t particularly enjoy being around. You can still stand next to them and not like them. In the same...
The point of this Step is to discover why you are afraid of your particular obsessive thought. And by really elaborating and thinking out your worst case scenario, you will be able to take your obsession to its origin.
Now this may seem scary…..But you can do this!
This is a step designed to help you gain an understanding of your fear. And by understanding your fear, you will begin to allow yourself to face your fear. And, facing your fear will ultimately allow you to break out of the obsessive cycle and regain your life.
This exercise may sound weird to you, but this is meant to paint a really clear picture of your fear and show you the roots of your fear. Trust me; I have incorporated this step for a very specific reason. The whole point of this exercise is to really see why you are afraid of your obsession.
Identifying The Six Basic Fears
According to Napoleon Hill, most fears can be traced to six different categories.
So in this exercise I want you to identify which of...
As we know, obsessions are unwanted, persistent, intense thoughts, ideas, images, or impulses that repeatedly intrude or invade a person’s mind. The person with these obsessions generally experiences a great deal of anxiety, discomfort, and pain from these thoughts. And they recognize these thoughts as something that does not represent their true-inner desires, and believe there is a possibility that these obsessions are false.
One of my personal favorite tools for Identifying Obsessions and Compulsions is the Yale Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale
If you click on the link and print this list out and complete it….you will be done with this step.
Or you can also just use a standard piece of paper and create two separate lists…one for obsessions….and one for compulsions…It is totally up to you.
Now to correctly identify your obsessive thoughts recap the following categories of obsessions and go through each type of obsession that you...
In this post I will discuss the importance of Psychoeducation. I can’t seem to stress the importance of this enough….and unfortunately I believe this is something that is often overlooked and undervalued by most people seeking help for OCD and Obsessive Thoughts. But I believe that Psychoeducation is extremely important for achieving success when it comes to breaking free from obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors.
You see Psychoeducation offers the base or foundation for your success. Once you can understand the different parts of your brain that are involved in the OCD cycle, you can really begin to see obsessions for what they really are…..just annoying thoughts that should be ignored.
So I would like to offer a short introduction to psychoeducation when it comes to OCD, but additionally I want to offer you resources you can use to conduct your own research.I know everyone learns at their own pace so it is very important that you can take it upon...
Developing Your Dreams
Identifying and actively pursuing my dreams was vital to my victory over obsessive thoughts, and it will be vital to your victory as well. I believe that you will have a hard time achieving a life free from the obsessive cycle if you cannot first visualize it.
For that reason, I will introduce a concept that was instrumental in my success called dream-lining. It is a concept I learned and have drawn from author Tim Ferris, in his book The 4 hour Work Week.[i] To summarize briefly, a dream-line is basically a dream combined with a time-line to create a “Dreamline.” However, for the purpose of this program I will just refer to them as dreams.
To be clear, dreams are not the same thing as goals. Goals are milestones that a person aims to achieve. For example, your goal may be to one day graduate college, purchase a house, get married, or retire. While these are great goals to have in life, they will not be nearly as beneficial as dreams...
Step Two for Overcoming OCD is Breaking Away From Labels and Mental Illness Stigma
When talking about the obsessive compulsive cycle, it is virtually impossible to ignore the notion of labeling or diagnosing people with the particular mental-illness known as OCD.
From my point of view, I don’t believe it necessary to place a diagnosis or label on someone in order to help them. In fact, my personal experience in the field of mental health has led me to believe that a good majority of clinicians seem to care more about the client’s diagnosis than about the client’s name, and this mindset has contributed to the Stigma Associated with Mental Illness.
From a clinical standpoint, I understand the importance of accurately diagnosing someone’s problem. I even understand determining a clinical diagnosis for billing and insurance purposes. But, I do not believe that a diagnosis or label should be the main focus of the clinician nor the person seeking help.
The First Step to Overcoming OCD and Obsessive Thoughts is Developing the Right Mindset:
When it comes to beating OCD you really have to view the process like fighting a battle or a war. And Ironcially, I was very surprised to learn that one of the earliest uses of the word obsession has to do with warfare. Now, I found this to be quite fitting because when I was dealing with obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors, it literally felt like there was a war going on inside my mind.
In 2008, author Lennard J. Davis, through his book Obsession: A History, provided the public with a very thorough history of obsessions. In his book, Davis informs the reader that in the Latin language, the words “obsessio” and “possesio” were actually two phases of sieging a city. Here is a quick look at how the process would unfold. First, an army would “obsess” a city by surrounding it. Surrounding the city would prevent any people or...
Video Summary – The 10 Steps for Overcoming Obsessive & Intrusive Thoughts
Two questions that often come my way are….
How do I Stop Obsessive or Intrusive Thoughts?
And How do I successfully overcome OCD?
Since the answers to these two questions are very similar, but at the same time a little complex….. I have decided to create a series of posts and videos to hopefully offer some helpful information and guidance towards a solution.
Now this post is actually just going to be an introduction into what I believe are the 10 major steps to achieving Victory Over Obsessive & Intrusive thoughts.
And after this post, I’m going to create a follow-up post and video for each of the individual steps (which you can reach by clicking on the links)
So to start off Step Number One is to Develop The Proper Mindset
Now what I mean by that is when you are overcoming Obsessive/Intrusive Thoughts you really have think of it like fighting a battle or a war,...
A common sub-type of OCD is something known as “Pure Obsessional OCD” or “Pure O OCD” or “Pure OCD.” A person who suffers with Pure OCD will experience various obsessive thoughts, but will generally not display any noticeable outward compulsive behaviors (Hence the phrase “Pure Obsessional OCD”). These obsessive thoughts are reported to be intrusive and unwanted by the sufferer. Additionally the thoughts experienced by the sufferer usually include the individual engaging in an act that person considers to be immoral or inappropriate. For people that struggle with Pure O OCD, these thoughts can be very troubling and painful, specifically because they are often very against the person’s true character.
Since people with Pure O OCD are often unaware that they are suffering from a sub-type of OCD and much of what they experience happens in their mind, they often suffer in silence for many years. It is also important to note that...
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