How to StopObsessive ThinkingCreated &Presented byBrenda McCreightPh.D.
Disclaimer Obsessive thinking is serious and it can ruin a day or a life If you have obsessive thoughts please seek the help of a licensed mental health professional This Powerpoint presentation is offered only as information and is not a replacement for therapy
Definition of obsessivethoughtsPersistent, uncontrollable thoughts, impulses, orimages that are intrusive, unwanted and /ordisturbing for the individual orothers who are impacted by theassociated behavior
Obsessions of any kind have a neurobiological base Different sources report that 1 in 40 or 1 in 50 adults have some form of obsessive behavior or thinking It can develop at any age or life stage Researchers do not yet know for sure what causes obsession OT‟s can exist on their own, or they can be part of another mental health conditionBrenda McCreight Ph.D. workshop series
OT‟s can be about memories, or behaviours, or ideas, or regrets, or fears, or fantasies, or shame based experiences, or people, or…..whatever is unique to your brain OT‟s are rarely pleasant or comfortable Brenda McCreight Ph.D. workshop series
OT‟s keep us stuck in the past or keep us invested in a fantasy of the future OT‟s prevent us from living in the present Sometimes – OT‟s are a way of avoiding the present – they can be a disturbed defense mechanism, or, a way of protecting us from dealing with the “NOW” of our livesBrenda McCreight Ph.D. workshop series
If you weren‟t having OT‟s what would you be thinking about? How would you be spending your time?
Inorder to interrupt OT‟s, you have to be clear about what they are – so – name them Write them down with as much detail as possible Or, tell someone about them, and describe them fully Don‟t be afraid – – reach out to someone if you feel afraid or overwhelmedBrenda McCreight Ph.D. workshop series
Notice when you obsess or ruminate on things you can‟t change Is there a pattern? Or a particular trigger? Are you tired? Hungry? Thirsty? Stressed? Alone? Anxious? Rushed? Driving your car? Laying in bed? Worried? Angry? Afraid? If there is a trigger- what can you do about it? Can you avoid it? Can you get it out of your day or your life?Brenda McCreight Ph.D. workshop series
Assumptions… What are your assumptions about the OT‟s? Do you assume that another choice would have had a better result? Do you assume that if you wash your hands you will never die? That if you count to 50 before opening a door nothing bad will happen to the people you love? That if you hum “The Lullaby of Broadway” enough times you will win the lottery? Write these down or tell someone – the task is to externalize the assumed outcome that is tied to the obsessive thoughtBrenda McCreight Ph.D. workshop series
Don‟t judge your assumptions and distortions about your OT‟sThey aren‟t good or bad, they just are…beaware of them but don‟t punish yourself forthemBrenda McCreight Ph.D. workshop series
Have you distorted this? Many of us give too much room in our brains to our fears and insecurities Have you made your fears or regrets larger than they should be? Have you catastrophized what could, should, or will happen? Have you minimized or discounted all that you have accomplished? Have you decided this *thing* that you are obsessing about is all that matters in your world?Brenda McCreight Ph.D. workshop series
Summarizing so far…To summarize the previous steps –1) Write down, or talk about, all the details of the OT2) Notice when OT‟s occur – are there patterns or triggers the precede the OT?3) Don‟t judge the OT4) Don‟t make assumptions about the OT5) Does the OT serve as a form of denial or self protection – ie better to think about the OT than something scarier?
Disrupting an OT… The OT is a form of habit – the brain can be re-trained to break the habit When you realize you are ruminating or having an OT ------- Shake your hands as hard and fast as you can – this will disrupt the OT thought process Stand up if you are sitting; sit if you are standing; turn over if you are lying down; do something to change your physical position
Continue to shake your hands till you can‟t do it any longer (or people are noticing and giving you really strange looks) Take some deep breaths – if you have time do this breathing exercise: Quiet the Monkeys (the monkeys are the OT‟s)
Quiet the Monkeys Think of a word that describes how you want to feel Square your shoulders Think about your breathing – a little deeper & a little slower (30 seconds) Think about your heart (30 seconds) Picture your heart pumping the oxygen up to your brain and washing out the OT‟s
Think of something that gives you joy – a place, a person, an event, a memory etc. (30 seconds)When your mind drifts, come back to thetaskDon‟t time yourself, just approximate the 30seconds - do any step longer if you can orwant to
Afteryou have done the breathing exercise, keep yourself distracted by focusing on another task – wash the dishes, tackle an overdue report, go for a walk and keep up the breathing and some hand flapping, talk to your dog or your spouse, watch a tv show that actually interests you, read a book or magazine
Practice any form of meditation – take a class to get started, read a book about meditation, check out meditation sites on the „net or youtube. Meditation will train you to control your thoughts and the focus of your mind You don‟t have to do major meditation, any kind that gives you a few moments of focused thinking will be of benefit
In addition… Speak to your physician or psychiatrist or licensed mental health professional about using prescribed medications to helpreduce the OT‟sHealthy eating, exercise, stressmanagement, positive relationships, developingconflict resolution skills – all of these may needto be considered in reducing or resolving theOT‟sThis may seem like a lot to do, but it will take lessenergy than the OT‟s
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