Ever have a feeling you don’t like and wish it would go away? Have you ever thought about something and very much not want to think about it, but then your mind returns to it over and over? If you have OCD, this can be an extremely common and difficult problem. It’s what fuels OCD, pushing unwanted thoughts and feelings away. Of course, this is usually followed by a compulsion to make the anxiety go away temporarily.
For weeks I’ve been dealing with unwanted thoughts and feelings. I haven’t told anyone, because these are not the type of thoughts I want to share. There is shame attached to them. That shame makes me want the thoughts even less, and therefore, I have them even more.
What is important to remember, is that everyone has thoughts they don’t want. Everyone. There’s no need to attach significance to thoughts or feelings that are fleeting, that you don’t choose to have.
Easier said than done.
I’ve been going back to an old technique I learned over 2 years ago from a temporary therapist. My swimming fish technique.
Those of you unfamiliar with this technique, it’s worth explaining again, because I have found it helpful in times of repeat distressing thoughts.
Imagine you’re a fish and you’re swimming along. Intrusive thoughts are like fishing lines cast into the water with hooks. If you engage them, you get caught. You need to just consciously identify the hook as an OCD thought and swim past. The more hooks you swim past, the easier it will become to swim by without having to even take notice of the hooks.
This technique was introduced to me as a visual representation of recognizing/accepting then dismissing thoughts, because I’m a visual artist. I have found it helpful to fall back on when other techniques, more simpler techniques, don’t help or work.
I have been torturing myself, though, because of the guilt from my thoughts. I’ve been listening to a song that reminds me of my thoughts. Wallowing in my guilt basically. My thought process makes no sense to me here. I’m a horrible person for thinking this, let me listen to some music that makes me think it some more….? I don’t understand myself.
Repetitive music listening (same song, 100 times over) is both a compulsion and a stim for me. So that’s the confusing part, perhaps. I just don’t understand why I allow myself to continue to feel guilty and don’t just stop listening to the music. I feel I must be a masochist.
I wonder if people on the outside think to those with OCD, ‘Why don’t you just stop?”, when it comes to a compulsion. Is there any understanding that something feels like it has to be done? Or that you have no control over your actions? That’s a big one for me, with my verbal compulsions, no control. I will say horrible things to myself before I know I’ve said anything at all.
Not to be discouraged or discouraging. Things can and do get better. The thoughts I’m struggling with, I know are temporary. They’ll bother me now, for their time, whether it’s for weeks or months, but they’ll run their course. Then on to the next obsessive thought – and compulsions.
*Sigh* The joys of OCD. Cheers!
I leave you with some art (again). A look at my practice for a commission I recently got for some Gerbera Daisies in oil. I’ve been challenged, as the client chose a small format (8×10), and I am comfortable working larger. We shall see if I can pull this one off eventually!
Have a blessed day!
I hadn’t heard of the swimming fish technique before. I like it!
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I hadn’t heard of it prior and I haven’t seen it mentioned anywhere since. I think she adapted it on the spot for me, but it helps and for that I’m grateful ☺️
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Thanks for sharing ❤️