A Mental Process of Breaking Down OCD Habits
The brain is a fascinating place.
Within less space then your desktop's motherboard and all the attending parts is a system of neurons and synapses connected to tissue that transmit impulses that are interpreted throughout your body. The brain also seems to have a place all its own which serves as a stage for those connections to take the form of images and thoughts which run their course in a more conscious way.
Sometimes, one act will get on stage and stubbornly keep at their craft regardless of how loud the crowd boos or what is thrown at them. All of the criticism and negativity doesn't seem to daunt such thoughts but rather give the players more energy to act and a greater sense of the stage they desire to fill. Bouncers can be sent to escort them off stage but to no avail. Even while the next act tries to get on stage and get set up the previous act will start insinuating characters into the new act until that new act is completely hijacked. Before one can do much about the affront, the old act is reborn and seemingly stronger then ever.
The habit of the mind to do this is known often as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or O.C.D. for short. Recent studies show that the current concentration of people who have this problem is around 1 person in every hundred. This equates to a little better then 2 million people in the United States alone.. Chances are that you or someone you know has been impacted by someone with this condition.
The problem with O.C.D. is that not only can the mind get stuck on a thought, eventually that thought will become action and then the mind will try justify that action in other ways that will cement the obsession as part of the character of the person. Often people with O.C.D. form rituals to satisfy their obsessive needs and desires. They keep the details of these rituals with the devoutness of the most sainted of zealots. Often obsessive people are prone to getting hooked easily on anything that is pervasive on its own merits and thus have more difficulty kicking addictions then most non O.C.D. afflicted people.
The problem people face, it would seem, in finding a way to kick the this problem or tame it is that most people live without consideration or regard for what place each of their thoughts play in their mental make up. It would seem that there isn't a thought we have that doesn't play a part in how we deal with life or don't deal. People decide moment by moment whether they will yield to a fight, flight, or cooperate, response. Like a giant motherboard, each thought is a functional piece that is designed to fill a function that our central processor calls to be filled or necessary for life. Those with O.C.D. often plug thoughts in to this matrix that take up so much space that they never get around to addressing reality fully. Worse yet, the detrimental side of the obsessions often lead to a mystical connection between a given obsession and the problem that it was meant to address.
The key then to beating the obsession cycle for me, then, was locating the nodes or slots in the cognitive mind where an obsession is currently bogging down and replacing it with: one, the desire to face that subject; two, a plan to address that subject that is of a cyclical nature. The tendency to obsess then takes over and runs the new subroutine or act and hopefully if the person isn't masochistic, the positive results and success that the new obsession generates will end up feeding the need to maintain the new obsession that actually is beneficial.
It would be helpful on this point to actually use a diary or journal. Note each attempt and spend some time to exalt over successes and analyze failures for improvement rather then tossing them out as complete failures. Using a diary will help you keep conscious awareness as you proceed through this course of self programming. It will also help you record successes that your mind which may not be unused to. Such successes your mind may otherwise wish to forget and replace with another obsession or the previous obsession to restore the sensation of normalcy and long cultivated self image.
To combat this later problem of the obsessive view of ones self as someone who deserves misery, or as a failure at life constantly in pain, a mirror might be helpful. Self affirmations may be helpful but you will never believe them unless you also include your plan and new ritual that you are developing to make your new self image real. If you tell yourself such things in the mirror each day, eventually you will believe yourself, especially as you let that ritual take effect in your life and the self fulfilling prophecy will cement the obsession as being an accurate part of your make up and you can move on to the next obsession to combat.
It is important to note that it isn’t helpful or healthy to combat more then one obsession at any one time. If you try you will overwhelm your process and then destroy your faith in that same process even when it is very effective. It is also important to note that you are not to only replace actions for other actions. This will fail as well. You must always acknowledge and be respectful of the place in the heart that the previous obsession held and what problem it was created to combat even if ineffectively. When you replace it you must constantly and obsessively remind yourself how the new habit will help fulfill the same need as the old habit and will work better.
Each obsession needs to be broken down into its parts and faced for the functional place it plays in the mind and body. Turning O.C.D. from being a slave’s sentence to being a functional addition to one’s personal makeup isn't easy to do. This process can itself become an obsession. That isn't a bad idea at first but after a while it can make you want to slit your wrists and make you ultimately over self conscious.
One can avoid this self-consciousness by supplanting this approach when one finds a goal in life to push for that seems worthy of a life's worth of effort. When one finds such a noteworthy aim one merely needs to nudge each obsession that has been carefully crafted towards the aim of obtaining the goal one is seeking. It then becomes necessary to be consciously vigilant and analyze the effectiveness of each obsession in aiding one towards that goal.
This sounds like a lot of work and it is. The alternative is worse, however, and ultimately preferable over the self destructive and enslaving tendencies of thoughts run muck.