First, the basic definitions:
Anxiety is a broad term encompassing several disorders that cause fear, nervousness and worrying. It can go from mild to severe, affecting the patients’ daily life and it can manifest physically.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder where intrusive, unwanted thoughts are present resulting in fear, worrying, apprehension and nervousness. Repetitive behaviours, also called rituals, aimed at reducing or eliminating anxiety are also characteristic of OCD. Some symptoms are excessive hand washing, excessive cleaning, repeated checking, extreme hoarding, sexual, violent and/or religious thoughts, relationship-related obsessions and repetitive nervous rituals (counting something up to a precise point, repeatedly flicking the light switch on and off a certain number of times etc.).
Instrusive thoughts are unwanted, involuntary thoughts, images or dark ideas that can become obsessions. They are very upsetting to the individual and they can be very difficult to get rid of or manage.
And now some important things you need to know:
1. Intrusive thoughts are not you, they are ego-dystonic, meaning that they are the exact opposite of your character. They are the very essence of what you are NOT.
2. You shouldn’t worry about acting on those thoughts, they are what you want the least, your biggest fears and things which disgust you the most.
3. You need to realise that you are in control! Just understanding this is important for you to overcome intrusive thoughts.
4. This may sound bad, but you need to, in a way, accept those thoughts. What I mean is that when they occur, you must let them pass naturally. It is good to recognise them as not your thoughts, seeing them objectively, observing them and letting them pass.
5. STOP engaging in rituals! When intrusive thoughts occur, do not use a familiar strategy to ignore or reduce them. By doing that, you let them win, they take your time and they make you feel bad and worried. Rather, as pointed out earlier, let them pass naturally. By being exposed to intrusive thoughts and things that trigger them, but not reacting to them and engaging rituals, you will get rid of the reflex to pass through these rituals. A more sophisticated form of this is called exposure therapy, used in a controlled and professional setting. If your case is severe, I strongly suggest consulting a professional.
These very basic tips helped me a lot in my quest to overcome OCD. Just by reading them and trying to implement them in daily life can be a big step forward in terms of controlling or even partially eliminating your problems. Of course, every person has occasional intrusive thoughts and compulsions, it’s impossible to get rid of them completely, but they can certainly be tuned down to a normal and manageable level. Personally, after reading tips like these and after I used them in daily life, my intrusive thoughts almost completely vanished. I truly hope that this will help someone like it helped me.
Thanks for reading!