Studies show that approximately 90% of people have intrusive thoughts which elicit repetitive behaviors in them. People with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder take this behavior to a disruptive and unhealthy level. Their obsessions force them into a series compulsive behaviors as a kind of defensive mechanism against these obsessions.
OCD is a pattern of ritualized behavior used to cope with distressing situations. In the first place, a particular ritual may present relief to the obsessive individual. Eventually, the pattern becomes distressing to the sufferer of OCD, because it disrupts their everyday interactions in life.
If you find yourself thinking obsessive thoughts, there are solutions. The Linden Method is one such solution developed by Charles Linden, who, after 25 years of suffering, cured himself quickly and permanently.
How OCD Begins
Broadly defined, obsessions come to us as repeated images, impulses or thoughts. These make the obsessive person feel negative emotions, the most common being anxiety, stress, revulsion or apprehension.
An inability to “stop” these impulses and thoughts makes the OCD person feel out of control. Though the person realizes on some level their obsession with these thoughts is irrational, they feel the need to develop mechanisms to cope with their negative emotions. These mechanisms tend to become compulsive behavior, which is a kind of ritual which offers short term relief to the sufferer.
Types of Obsessions
Obsessions fall into several broad categories. The most common of these are sexual revulsion, aggressive impulses, feelings of contamination, accidental harm or contamination of others, doubting one’s actions and the need for exactness.
In the case of the sexual revulsion, one may replay upsetting acts from one’s personal sexual history or focus on a disgusting sexual image.
Contamination impulses come from a fear of disease or poisoning, or from the fear of unintentionally contaminating a loved one. A similar obsession involves thoughts of losing control and harming a loved one, such as pushing them into oncoming traffic or crossing the lanes of traffic while driving.
Type of Compulsions
In the case of doubt obsession, one might obsess about leaving the oven on while driving away from the house. This might require the person to return to the house to check on one’s appliances, with an ever-increasing list of perceived dangers.
With the exactness obsession, someone might need to have every item on one’s desk lay along parallel lines. Such people might feel the need to rearrange the shoes in one’s closet, or otherwise demand perfect symmetry of various aspects of their life.
A person may feel the need for constant reassurance, or confess one’s shortcomings to a friend or family member.
Counting numbers or having a preference for certain numbers is another common compulsion. Reading or writing one particular passage is not unusual.
In the case of sexual or religious obsessions, the ritual of repeating prayers or safe words is standard. These safe words might be a mild oath or a sharp curse.
Perhaps the most common compulsion is the need to wash one’s hands or clean one’s home repeatedly. Hoarding a common item is also seen quite often.
All of these compulsions have one purpose in mind: to restore one’s sense of control.
Stopping One’s Obsessive Thoughts
Psychiatrists and psychologists have struggled for decades to figure out the best way to stop obsessive thinking. In the end, one must recognize that irrational thoughts are a part of the human brain. Learning to focus on rational thoughts and disregard the irrational ones is the key to stopping one’s obsessive thoughts.
This is easier said than done, of course. But there are a few methods which seem to work.
1. Confront your obsessions.
Doctors have found that confronting your obsession and desensitizing yourself to it is a good way to end your compulsive behavior. This is treating the cause and not the symptom.
People with OCD understand that their thoughts and actions are irrational. This is one of the distinctions between OCD and a number of other psychological maladies. But the immediate impulse of the person with OCD is to push aside irrational thoughts with equally irrational behavior. This allows them to refocus their mind away from one’s obsession.
But if one instead faces one’s obsession, that person is able to think through the irrational thoughts and impulses. Once a person forcing himself or herself to confront these obsessions, a person tends to become desensitized to them.
In effect, if we can think rationally, an obsession loses its irrational power over us.
Note that it is best to target one’s obsession. But some people are unable to do this entirely. So it becomes a second best option to regulate one’s reaction to obsession.
If you can resist the need to behave compulsively, a person can begin to limit the effects of OCD. This is a half-measure, though.
2. Confront the anxiety over your obsession.
A person may come to believe they are not quite right. It is common for a sufferer of OCD to believe their obsession is degenerative, that it is leading to a dangerous behavior. Someone might have thoughts of doing violence to a loved one, and develop compulsive defense mechanisms in the hopes of avoiding these thoughts.
Anxiety might grow that the person will “give in to” these irrational impulses. This person must be reassured that these thoughts have never led to irrational behavior before. In this way, one can begin to realize that such anxiety is unwarranted.
3. Confront the cognitive process itself.
The human brain is complex. It produces plenty of rational thoughts which allow us to make decisions in life. But the brain also produces irrational thoughts.
It is natural to believe that all thoughts have meaning. This just isn’t the case. For a person with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, it is common to give meaning to the our most irrational thoughts. The fact that a person finds obsessive thoughts distressing is actually a good sign, though they tend to think something dark and perhaps unforgivable is at work simply for having the thoughts in the first place.
Allowing our irrational thoughts and impulses to become an obsession is to over analyze oneself. It is quite similar to interpreting one’s dreams as having deep and dark meanings, as opposed to realizing it is the brain jumbling disparate and irrational thoughts with one another.
Our brain is not always trying to tell us something. Once we realize this, stopping one’s obsessive thoughts becomes possible.
If you find yourself still struggling with obsessive thoughts, there is help available. The Linden Method has helped over 136,000 sufferers recover. >> Check it out today.