Four Steps for Conquering Symptoms of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Psychiatrist Jeffrey Schwartz, author of Brain Lock: Free Yourself from Obsessive-Compulsive Behavior, offers the following four steps for dealing with OCD:
- RELABEL – Recognize that the intrusive obsessive thoughts and urges are the result of OCD. For example, train yourself to say, "I dont think or feel that my hands are dirty. Im having an obsession that my hands are dirty." Or, "I dont feel that I have the need to wash my hands. Im having a compulsive urge to perform the compulsion of washing my hands."
- REATTRIBUTE – Realize that the intensity and intrusiveness of the thought or urge is caused by OCD; it is probably related to a biochemical imbalance in the brain. Tell yourself, "Its not me—it’s my OCD," to remind you that OCD thoughts and urges are not meaningful, but are false messages from the brain.
- REFOCUS – Work around the OCD thoughts by focusing your attention on something else, at least for a few minutes. Do another behavior. Say to yourself, "Im experiencing a symptom of OCD. I need to do another behavior."
- REVALUE – Do not take the OCD thought at face value. It is not significant in itself. Tell yourself, "Thats just my stupid obsession. It has no meaning. Thats just my brain. Theres no need to pay attention to it." Remember: You cant make the thought go away, but neither do you need to pay attention to it. You can learn to go on to the next behavior.
Source: Westwood Institute for Anxiety Disorders