Think about thinking

Don’t think about a pink elephant.

…I bet you thought about a pink elephant. There have been so many times that I have thought about something and then I think about thinking about that something. Don’t lie and say “what?” Reread that again and I am sure you know what I am talking about! We all do it, sometimes to an extreme but we all have been there.

The human brain wants to think about what we say not to think about. Why? Cuz we love to annoy ourselves. No, but really. Dealing with OCD, I know how hard it can be to live with an overthinking, overactive brain. The brain is a fascinating, but an overly malleable part of the body. It can mold to be anything, think anything, and attach to things we don’t want it to attach to unless we train it correctly. If we overstimulate the brain as if to say “omg don’t think that way,” our brain says “oh it’s bad must latch on figure it out.”

The good news is: We ALL think weird things. We all have scary thoughts, we all have “where the heck did that come from” and “why would I ever think that” thoughts but some of us, lucky me (!), overthink these thoughts. Instead of just disregarding them as another thing in your mind, sometimes they are so weird, or so scary, that people with anxiety latch on and obsess over them, making them worse and worse until they feel real! Thus OCD is born.

How do you stop it? Or better question is “how do you calm it?” There are a few methods of therapy one that I have used is called flooding. It is defined as approaching the situation or thought that provokes anxiety and causes the OCD cycle for as long as you can handle before the anxiety starts to diminish. Create a hierarchy of anxiety-provoking situations, and starting with the least provoking, purposefully put yourself in the situation to make yourself anxious. Seek out the uncertainty. Seek out the discomfort. Eventually facing that situation will cause a less and less anxiety over time.

 

 

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