Just a couple of weeks ago, I attended and was honored to present at the Southern California OCD Conference ran by socalocd.com. It was such an incredible event and I left with my heart feeling full and mind inspired.The thing about these conferences is that the energy of the attendees is so infectious. At the beginning of the day, the room is filled with anticipation and hope. These conferences are held in hope to give tools and support to those in the community with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. After listening to the keynote speakers and breaking into group sessions where attendees learn tools to manage their OCD (I spoke on Mindfulness and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for OCD), we meet at the end of the day for a final Q&A with the panelists. The room was filled with togetherness. There was a sense of community and cohesion that warmed my heart (and it lasted for days). The next day, I posted on Instagram how honored I was to attend such a beautiful conference and I sent out the message that YOU ARE NOT ALONE. I knew a lot of people were not able to attend such a wonderful event and I wanted to spread the love and connection that I was feeling. The response flawed me. Direct Messages and emails came in from those who are struggling with OCD and Anxiety and Depression, reporting how alone they feel. It got me wondering.
Do you feel ALONE in your suffering?Do you feel like no one understands just how hard it is for you? Do you feel like no one could possibly understand what is it like to experience such anxiety and fear and panic?
I am also wondering, Do you feel alone in your bravery?Do you feel like no one understands or appreciates how incredibly brave you are? You get up every day and do your best to get through the day with anxiety and depression and dread. You face your fears, not because you want to, but because you HAVE to. Do you feel so alone that you feel angry? Maybe you are so angry and hurt because no one else you know has to face their fears every single day, day in and day out.
Do you feel alone because everyone else seems to do the thing that you fear so easily?If any of this describes you, this episode is for you. You are NOT alone! Click the below link to be added to the group. I would LOVE to have you join us.
Link to OCD So Cal Below:OCD SoCal is an affiliate of the International Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Foundation (IOCDF)
Why can't I just distract myself from the thoughts?
Can I just Listen to music to drown out the thoughts?
Can I imagine a Stop Sign when having intrusive thoughts or worrying?
What about squashing thoughts like a bug?
If I think it, is it my unconscious mind trying to tell me something?
My Doctor told me that I just need one really heavy period for this anxiety to pass
My Doctor told me my Anxiety is due to not being breastfed
OCDbaltimore.com The OCD and Anxiety Center of Greater Baltimore
Facebook: @JonHershfieldClick here to read about how Mindfulness can help you.
We must come to accept that much of what we think is incorrect.
I want to introduce you to TWO words that could change your life and make you more present if you put it into practice enough.
Before I share the words with you, I want to encourage you to first get used to observing what you are thinking, feeling, experiencing.
It could be emotions such as sadness, anger, frustration, irritability etc.
It could be thoughts, such as "I am so angry- I am so upset- I am not getting better- I cant do this- I cant handle this- I am feeling hopeless......"
It could be sensations such as panic and anxiety-related sensations, increased heart rate, shaking, sweating, depersonalization etc
It could be sensations related to Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors (Trichotillomania and Compulsive Skin Picking) such as tingling fingers, itchiness or throbbing.
Once you are able to notice and observe these experiences, I encourage you to click on the link and add these two little words to your narrative.Enjoy! I hope they bring you as much peace as they bring me. I have even added a short meditation to help you with this practice. :)
Chances are, you have done these behaviors a million times
They sound like this....“Just to make sure”
“I would prefer to be certain”
“I cant handle my anxiety if I don’t....”
“Terrible things will happen if I don’t.....”
If you have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, you might check doors, stove knobs, hair dryers, crock pots (new for those who watched the TV show, This IS us),
For those with Health Anxiety, you might check your ailments, sores, blemishes, degree of pain etc
For those with Perfectionism, you might check emails, texts, phone messages, assignments for school etc
For those with social anxiety, you might check Evite lists on who is going to an event, check your clothing or teeth in the mirror repetitively.
Checking is an attempt to control our surroundings in hopes to avoid possible bad things from happening. We might be avoiding the uncertainty of knowing if we will get sick or not. We might be trying to eliminate entirely the chances of the house burning down or being robbed. Or, we might be trying to eradicate any chance of being seen as anything less than perfect. We might be afraid of embarrassment.
But let's be honest!
The chances are, you are mostly just trying to eradicate THOUGHTS about these events. Or, maybe you are trying to eradicate the presence of anxiety around these topics.
I understand this conundrum. It is not uncommon to want to make sure you aren't going to burn down the house or miss a deadline or leave the door of your house wide open. We all do checking behaviors from time to time.
However, let's be really honest with ourselves. If you find you are doing these activities over and over, chances are that you are mostly in the fight against uncertainty….and let me let you in on a little secret. You won’t will this one. Fighting uncertainty is like trying to get a toddler out the door on time for school. The more you rush it, the longer they take. True story!
Some might say, but when I do it, after some time, I DO find relief. I get it. Some are lucky to find those moments when the anxiety is lifted and you can walk away with a sense of, “Ok. I can move on”
Listen to the episode to learn about how to work on reducing compulsive checking behaviors!
When it comes to anxiety, WE CANNOT CONTINUE WITH THIS. We must change the arm in which we are strongest.
And lets be honest. Uncertainty is all around us. It is something we have to deal with even if few don't have anxiety. It comes in every stage of our lives. Let's work to strengthen our ability to make space for discomfort in our lives.
As always, have a wonderful week!
Welcome back, everyone!
Welcome back to the Series on Problematic Anxiety-Related Behaviors.
Today, we are talking about Mindfulness-based tools to help with Reassurance Seeking.
For those of you who don’t think this topic applies to you, stick around a little. You might find that you are employing this behavior, even in slight and tricky ways.
As mentioned in the last episode, there are behaviors that you can reduce, which will result in better outcomes when it comes to anxiety. Last Week we discussed Avoidance and how this compulsion only makes fear worse. This week, as we mentioned, we are discussing Reassurance Seeking Compulsions.
So, What is Reassurance Seeking?
Before I give a definition, let me give you some examples and you can see if you resonate with any of these.
Am I doing this right? (Common in Perfectionism)
Did you turn off the stove? Did I turn off the........ (Common in Obsessive Compulsive Disorder)
Are you sure everything will be ok?
Do I look ok? (Common in Body Dysmorphic Disorder, Eating Disorders)
You still love me, right?
Do you think I will fail this test? (Common in Perfectionism)
Do you think I hurt their feelings?
Do you think they are mad at me?Do you think I could get sick? (Common in Health Anxiety and Contamination OCD) Did I hurt someone? Could I hurt someone? (Common in Harm OCD)
Don't get me wrong. These are questions that I would consider “appropriate” questions.
However, the problem lies in their frequency and intention.
If you find yourself asking questions repetitively, or you find yourself asking these questions when you know they don’t have the solution/answer, it is probably Reassurance Seeking.
Also, if you find yourself asking these questions when you could be finding the solution yourself, this could be Reassurance Seeking.
And lastly, if you find yourself attempting to find certainty in a situation where there is little to NO certainty, this podcast is for you!
Reassurance Seeking is an action of removing someone's doubts or fears. Reassurance seeking is very common (and problematic) behavior in Anxiety Disorders such as OCD, phobias, panic disorder, Generalize Anxiety Disorder. It is also common in Body Dysmorphic Disorder and Eating Disorders.
That being said, it applies to us all, in our management of our own anxiety.
The goal is to recognize that we must not reach outside ourselves to remove our doubts and fears.
Drawing other into our anxiety usually only makes it messier and creates a dynamic where you feel reliant on them to manage your anxiety.
Also, Reassurance Seeking complicates relationships and can backfire. People may not give you the response you were looking for and cause you to have even more anxiety.
Often clients report that their partner sometimes is very supportive and answers their questions very well, but over time, then the partner gets annoyed and then it creates friction. Does this sound familiar?
The goal is to acknowledge your own fears as they arise, either allow them to simply be there using your mindfulness skills or work through them on your own.
Remember, treat your fears the way you want your brain to interpret them in the future.I hope that is helpful! Have a wonderful week.
I am so excited to share with you some news about the work I am focusing on in 2018!
But first, let me tell you the back story.
Each year, I do my best to attend several conferences for OCD, Anxiety, Body Focused Repetitive Behaviors (BFRB’s) and Depression. I have had the privilege of presenting at many of these conferences over the years and I often return home in a state of joy, empowerment and determination to help those who struggle with these debilitating disorders. I love learning all about the evidence-based treatment modalities for OCD, Anxiety Disorders and Body Focused Repetitive Behaviors such as Trichotillomania and Skin Picking and using the skills to increase recovery outcomes and improve self-esteem and self-care.
However, last year, I left one of the conferences quite sad. I was sad for those sufferers who attended the conferences and then had to return home to their hometown, with very little support and no evidence-based services but licensed mental health professionals. So few therapist know how to treat OCD, BFRB’s and Anxiety Disorders using the treatment modalities that are so successful and appropriate.
From this frustration, I decided to create an online psycho-education platform where I can offer support and educational products to those who cannot access correct care.
I am so proud to announce the creation of CBTschool.com. CBTschool.com is an online platform when you can access information and online courses on how to overcome your struggles with OCD, Body Focused Repetitive Behaviors (BFRB’s), Anxiety Disorders, Panic and Depression. Each course will apply Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (hence the term CBT, in CBT School) and Mindfulness Tools. These are the exact tools I use with my clients every day in my office.
I currently have one course ready to be purchased, called Mindfulness School for OCD. I will talk more about this in coming podcasts. Keep an eye out, as there will be more to purchase very soon.
In addition to the online courses, I plan to meet at a designated time each month to join with you on Facebook Live and Instagram, to answer any questions you may have and help you along with your journey.
More exciting news is the YOUR ANXIETY TOOLKIT podcast is now a production of CBTschool.com and we will continue to provide evidence based tools for Anxiety, Depression and Emotional Dysregulation.
Lastly, if you check out CBTschool.com’s websites, you will see that there is also some awesome free PDF’s available to help you with self care and mindfulness.
Now, onto the important stuff!
This episode is a part or an ongoing series where we discuss Problematic Anxiety Related Behaviors (also know as Compulsions).
In this episode, we will discuss a very important and problematic compulsion, which is Avoidance.
Avoidance is a common behavior we employ to manage anxiety, fear, panic, obsessions and intrusive thoughts.While our brain uses "flight" to activate us to run away from real danger and stressors, we sometime use avoidance and "flight" to avoid thoughts and fears of bad things happening.
The problem is, the more you avoid events or experiences that you perceive to be dangerous (when really they are not currently a risk to your wellbeing) the more you tell your brain that that event or experience is dangerous and the more your brain responds with physical anxiety when you go to the event or engage in the experience.
Example: What if I get sick if I touch that door handle or ATM teller?
NOTE: Sentences that begin with “WHAT if” imply that they have not happened yet.
If you were my client and this was a common fear for you, and you have been avoiding this, I would have you go and use the ATM bank teller!!
By not avoiding, we unlock the fear response cycle our brain is looped into.
This applies to fears that you are a bad person, that you will do something wrong, that awful horrible things will happen.
Trick!!! When I say that….what is the immediate thought you have?
But, Kimberley, my fear is serious!! Nope. Your fear is a thought
But Kimberley, I could ruin peoples live if I stopped avoiding the thing I am afraid of. POSSIBLY!!
Here is my questions for you. What kind of life do you want to live? Consult with your values.
Do you want to live in fear? Do you want to let anxiety make your decisions? Or even more, a thought make your decisions?
Or, do you want to strengthen courage and resilience?
This is a question we have to ask ourselves every day. How Do I want to live my life?
Take risks! Look at your life and ask yourself what you are avoiding. Try to not let anxiety win this one.
Find a way to reduce the avoidance.
Find a way to forgive yourself for avoiding it for so long. Don't beat yourself up.Have a wonderful week everyone! See you next week!