Refocusing & Modifying Techniques
After many repetitions, concerns about leaving the house, touching a speck of dirt, or disorder can cause the minds of people with OCD to obsess. When checking locks, washing hands, or straightening stops these obsessions, people are also trained to engage in rituals. As soon as another trigger event is anticipated or experienced, the whole cycle starts again. Vague feelings of anger or tension can also trigger obsessions. Any attempts to resist and fight troubling thoughts just create more anxiety and perpetuate the cycle.
Since the 1980s, this problem has become treatable, both through medication and behavior therapy. After learning to recognize obsessions and compulsions and realizing that OCD is harmless, you can start to interrupt the above cycles by postponing or modifying techniques.
POSTPONE AND REFOCUS
When thoughts are bogus, I change my focus.
Repetitious thought/urges —> Postpone & refocus —> Obsessing/ritualizing
When you notice obsessions or urges, tell them that they will have to wait a couple of minutes. Then, actively refocus your attention. This is the same as continuing to read even though you hear a siren in the background. Do not keep busy to prevent obsessions or compulsions. Take time to relax and then refocus if unwanted thoughts or urges come. There are numerous creative and powerful ways to refocus:
Set a goal to postpone rituals or thoughts with one of the above methods for one to five minutes and gradually increase your time. Keep a chart of how long you postpone and the refocusing activity used. If you succeed at postponing for your goal time, give yourself a treat. If you are not able to postpone for the planned length of time, set your goal lower.
MODIFY RITUALS AND OBSESSIONS
Obsessive thought or ritual —> Modification —> Obsessions & compulsions
Any time you change something about a habit, you weaken it. The following offer easy ways to reduce obsessions and rituals: