how to (Not) be obsessive


How to be obsessive

Many people with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder  will tell you that their behaviour is “Mad”, Unexplainable” “Uncontrollable”. They will also tell you that they feel they have been taken over by something that forces them to do bizarre and repetitive  rituals. Most say that bad things will happen if they do not do the rituals


What they believe about the condition is not correct

They  were not born carrying out the rituals, no external person is ordering them to do the “Mad”, Unexplainable” “Uncontrollable” things that they do. Bad things happen irrespective of the bizarre rituals that certain individuals carry out

If that is the case how and why does it have such a hold on the individual?

How to not be obsessive 

There is a theory that everything we do is learned at some stage in our development. Over time some of the things we learn become less necessary and drift to the back of our awareness, available if needed but essentially filed away. As an example, before you could walk you learned to crawl, as an adult there are far fewer occasions when you need this skill but it is there if you do need it.

Some things we learn in response to a stimulus, perhaps a specific stimulus in a very particular circumstance. For example imagine that you are walking down the stairs, you stumble and, to prevent yourself falling you grab the handrail, steady yourself but because you are shaken you grip  the handrail tightly before going on down.

Grabbing the rail prevented you from falling:  from that your brain can deduce that if you don’t hold the rail you will fall. Thereafter every time you go near stairs your subconscious tells you to grab the rail, in the same way that you did last time or you will fall. Your conscious mind thinks this makes sense and allows you to do this, even though in most circumstances it is not necessary and in all the previous times you have not fallen. 

 The subconscious, exists to save, protect, and assist you, it looks at past events and applies what was done then to incidents as they occur in the present It has got you hanging on to banisters to prevent falls on stairs, so logically it appears that you need help staying on your feet, so it then prompts you to touch the wall every few metres to make sure you are up straight. You do this and your conscious mind may think it is overkill but goes along with it. Your subconscious is now aware that you are aware of danger so it looks out for the next thing that could imperil you. Electricity kills—so it prompts you to check each switch as you pass, not just once, in case you miss it, but three times to be sure. Yet again the conscious mind recognises that there is indeed danger in electricity but is now noticing that the response to these dangers is going “over the top”. At this point you are aware that you are doing things that are probably unnecessary but you then set up this internal dialogue where that inner voice says “Yes but…” ” What if…” and suddenly you are hooked because you develop guilt, ” If I don’t do xyz  then abc  might happen” and if you dwell on that thought too much it changes from “Might happen” to “Will happen”. That compounds the guilt, you are now saying that “ if I do not do these rituals bad things will happen and they will be my fault.” Hey presto you have backed yourself into a corner, the weight of the world sits on your shoulders.

You are now successfully a person with OCD.

You have learned all of that:you have applied a sort of logic that let it grow from a minor issue to an all encompassing lifestyle and you keep doing it because you believe that it is true and real. Probably you are so engrossed carrying out more and more rituals that you do not have the chance to stand back and ask the questions that will destroy the whole belief like a bulldozer going through a cardboard wall.

So how do you get out of that corner.

Firstly take yourself to a place where you feel safe, maybe at the end of your ritual when you feel that you have got everything right, for the moment. Get comfortable and ensure that you are not disturbed, this is your time, your space and it is very important that you do this for yourself now.

Relax your stomach muscles, just let it sag, there's no one about to see. Breath long and deep concentrating on nothing other than your breathing, be aware of how the feelings in your body change as you focus on those long even breaths, notice how your body is feeling heavier and more settled, your head feels less tense, your neck loosens and your shoulder are able to drop sending messages to the muscles in your arms that they can relax, on all the way down to your hands and fingers. Notice too at this point that your hands spread and your fingers relax. There is a slow wave that is moving through your body bringing  ease and comfort, releasing tension  allowing you to be at peace,. And now as you just enjoy that feeling of released tension, lightness and ease your conscious  mind can feel free to wander, free to drift wherever it wants because while you are here and relaxed is has nothing to do but allow you to feel those pleasant sensations.

When you are this relaxed your subconscious mind is able to take time to reflect, to re-evaluate , to make changes so that it can serve you better. And because you are relaxed you can have that internal conversation that helps this process. As you drift deeper and deeper into that comfortable state  you discover all the things you can do to make the changes that are so overdue.

Imagine that you have your subconscious sitting beside you, what does it look like, what shape, size, colour does it have,  male or female create an image and notice its voice--- loud or quiet, gentle or harsh passive or aggressive,familiar or unknown?


Imagine that you sit down together.  Take  a sheet of paper and write down all the things that have not happened because you did your rituals.

Don’t be surprised if there is nothing to write

On a separate piece of paper write down all the bad things that have happened since you started the rituals

You may find this list goes on and on, the world has so much happening in it.


Show the two lists to Subconscious, point out the difference between the amount on each list.

Allow subconscious to respond if it wants to

Now tell Subconscious that the system of rituals is not working, that it is damaging your well being and it is restricting you. Tell it that it has to stop working in this way because it has no effect on good or bad things happening.

Tell it that you are responsible for the things that you do BUT that you are not  responsible for what others do.

Now tell Subconscious that it needs to help you  right now. That the change must be instant and complete.

Now tell Subconscious there can be no going back to old ways because you are always moving forward.

Tell Subconscious that you now understand that it was trying to protect you  but that Now it has to understand that you have grown, learned and changed so that the old ways  are no longer effective.

Now look again at the Subconscious has it changed ? Is it bigger or smaller, has the colour changed, is it brighter or dimmer than before, how has the voice changed, do you  feel as if it understands your needs now?

Ok if it is arguing in any way just imagine that the voice is that of Joe Pasquale, really high and squeaky, not the sort of thing you can take seriously, if it is still  being difficult change its colour, make it pale blue with large pink spots,------- its getting more amenable now, maybe if you give it a straw hat  with plastic flowers in it , by now it has no control over you, it is too ridiculous to take seriously. Pat it on the head and tell it that from now on you are in charge, you will guide your thoughts and it will help you to achieve every goal you set for yourself. See how it smiles and agrees, this is your imagination working, creating and developing the changes you want.  Things are only impossible if you don’t do them.

So now as you enjoy being relaxed, calm and in control you can just rest for as long as it takes for those changes to fall into place. Your brain processes information at incredible speed, constantly, so the changes you have made have been made instantly.

Lets try this out, allow yourself to drift forward in time, 6 months, see yourself in an everyday situation where you would have performed your rituals; notice how different things are, notice what you no longer do and see,- ----feel  and  hear how things are different, feel the freedom you have, notice how much more you are achieving because you are not hemmed in by those old behaviours. Notice how confident you are in everything you are doing and really notice that people are reacting to you in new and pleasant ways. Notice how you move, how you stand, notice how your image has changed and how  that helps you to be more effective, that is the future and the future starts Now

So now  if you count slowly from 5 down to 1 you will rapidly come out of that deep relaxed state into a feeling of energy, excitement and sure  certainty that you have grown out of and past the addictive state and into the fresh clear future that you can control. So Now, start at 5 feeling relaxed, go to 4 the energy is rising, 3 you are aware of your body being energised , 2 you are ready to open your eyes and one you have the anticipation of all the good things you are going to achieve.

If you need support in carrying this through contact me, make it happen.

© Martin Williams 2013/15/16