Forums › General Discussions and Specific Issues › General Anxiety…Social Anxiety… Panic Attacks…Agoraphobia › Obsessive Thoughts
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- January 10, 2018 at 5:16 pm#22006LPPSTEC User
Due to traumatic experiences in childhood, my coping mechanism was to create order in my physical environment or in myself physically to induce feelings of control and safety. As I grew into adulthood, before understanding the source of this tendency and addressing it therapeutically, my pattern of obsessive behavior interfered with daily life. Even though I tried to stop these behaviors, I could never get a handle on them. About the time I gave up trying to stop these behaviors, I started addressing the past trauma in my life with a therapist (believe it or not, at that time I still did not recognize that the two issues were related). As I began to heal and understand the effects of the trauma, 99 percent of the OCD behavior went away. Again, this was achieved without trying to stop these behaviors, this happened involuntarily as a secondary result of my treatment. The safer I felt internally, the less I felt the need to manifest a faux sense of security outwardly.
Today I'm happy to say that my most dangerous behaviors are gone. However, I do have two obsessive thought patterns that I can't seem to shake. Before listing them, let me explain that by nature of my personality, I'm drawn to simplicity, elegance, order and classic design. As a young child (prior to the trauma), I remember noticing and being fond of anything/or anyone that personified these characteristics. I could give you examples, but for the sake of not making this post a novel in length, I'll leave those out. My primary point in sharing this is because I don't associate this preference with negativity or past trauma. I actually enjoy this aspect of myself the way one would enjoy liking a certain activity or food. That said, I do think that my coping tool of using this preference and turning it into a hyper obsessive version of itself, was due to the trauma.
That brings me to sharing the two obsessive thoughts that I haven't been able to shake and they are (and I must say this is the first time I've shared this, so it's a bit embarrassing): 1. The question of what colors I should wear and 2. The question of what style clothing accurately represents my personality? While these thoughts on their own are often asked by many individuals without becoming obsessive, for me they constantly surface causing me to feel paralyzed at times. No matter how many times I analyze this topic, I never come to a conclusion. These thoughts are extremely disruptive because they occupy space in my mind that I want to be give to matters that I assign as more important. I have a very challenging time making clothing and makeup purchases (in other words, I will spend hours and hours shopping only to leave without buying an article of clothing that I like because I'm not sure whether it fits within the “rules” I can never actually define). I have been known to literally get rid of everything I own, if on a particular day I deem what's in my closet not to be the correct style or color. This problem also often impacts whether or not I have a good time socially due to worry that I have not chosen my attire correctly.
Of course I “know” that this topic does not need a conclusion. I realize I'm perfectly free to wear whatever I want style and color wise and that my choices may be changed at will. This issue is maddening because as I type these sentences, I'm extremely aware of how illogical my thoughts are on this subject. I recognize they come from a quest for false control, but don't know how to make them stop. My goal isn't necessarily to not care about my style/color preference. I enjoy it as a way of self expression and I think even under normal circumstances, I'd give a certain measure of thought to this topic. That said, I DO want to let go of the obsessive nature of it all.
So with the above in mind, how would you suggest I use PSTEC to get rid of these obsessive thoughts? Should I concentrate on the anxiety I feel when the obsessive thoughts come up or do I go back and think about the original trauma? Or should I concentrate on an affirming statement of some sort?
Thank you in advance for your assistance,
LPJanuary 11, 2018 at 11:42 am#25688Paul McCabePSTEC Pro and Forum Moderator
Thanks for your post and for sharing your story.
Firstly, I find that it can be useful to think of thoughts as being like movies. You may watch a horror, comedy, drama, a Western or any other type of movie genre, but they are still JUST movies and we react to them based on our context. To put it another way, I think it can be helpful to know we are not our thoughts, we are the person having our thought.
Please note that many people will have thoughts popping up that make no sense at all…on the conscious level.
In our thoughts, we are effectively the actor, director, editor, writer and cinematographer. We can also be the “movie critic.” Yes, we can watch our thoughts, accept them or consciously change the content. That could be a separate post, yet I felt it useful to mention it.
What can really shift things is removing any embarrassment you feel about any habitual thoughts you experience. I recommend using the Click Tracks for this purpose. Useful ways to engage with this and to make it more tangible might include:
– imagining telling someone about the thoughts you are having and imagine that they are critical/dismissive of you for engaging with the thoughts.
Once you have totally cleared the embarrassment, I expect you will feel much more free, comfortable talking about this and ready to move ahead.
Then I suggest you clear all the anxiety you feel when you imagine that you will NOT be in control. Imagine:
– Having to make do with attire that doesn't suit you
– Going out and not being able to change your attire.
– This being as bad as possible. Imagine, for instance, that you only have one outfit in one colour and do not have the means or opportunity to change it.
– Not having control in other contexts
Bundle these scenarios into one and run the CT while trying to bring up the unwanted feelings, or run them separately through each play of the CT. Use your own discretion.
To access this further, layering in some suggestions using PSTEC Positive can be hugely beneficial. You could focus on the safety aspects. Without speaking to you to really check whether these resonate with you, suggestions like the following can prove highly effective in shifting your Mind Model:
“No matter which outfit I choose, I am safe”
“It is OK to wear the same outfit for a day”
“Maybe I can be happy with my original choice of clothes”
“Perhaps I can relax more on our days out”
“I can feel safe within myself, no matter which thought pops into my head”
“If people judge me based on my appearance, I can feel OK with that”
“I can feel great even when things are imperfect”
Please let us know how you get on, Lacy.
Paul McCabe – PSTEC Master Practitioner
Please contact me anytime if you want any assistance in utilising PSTEC to help you live a life of tremendous freedom & possibility.
Recreate yourself with PSTEC.
Skype, Zoom, in-person & phone sessions available…January 11, 2018 at 1:46 pm#25689LPPSTEC User
Wow, your suggestion to think about thoughts like movies with the understanding that I am “viewing” my thoughts rather than feeling that “I am” my thoughts, resonates deeply with me. Until reading your reply, I didn't realize how much of my anxiety DOES comes from feeling embarrassed and somewhat defective about having these thoughts at all (especially because I judge these thoughts as being superficial and shallow). However, when I have other non obsessive negative thoughts, I don't relate them to who I am, I simply see them as thoughts that I may or may not act upon. I can view my thoughts regarding style and color in the same matter.
I'll start using PSTEC to deal with my feelings of embarrassment, shame and defectiveness and see where it takes me. Thank you for help. I would never have thought to approach these thoughts from this aspect without your input.
LPJanuary 12, 2018 at 4:44 pm#25690Brian TuckerPSTEC User
Hi LP – Paul has suggested some amazing advice as usual.
You are on the right track with shame and embarrassment. Especially being ashamed of yourself and embarrased of yourself. These are huge.
I would also suggest you look at and resolve any repressed anger as a starting point. Also any feelings of being a “weirdo” “awkward” and also being rejected/afraid of being rejected.
I noticed as I worked on my anxiety a huge pattern of people jokingly calling me a “weirdo” or “you're weird” well this was actually something I believed subconsciously but didn't realize it. When I cleared all of this it was mind-blowing how prevalent it was in my life and it affected my reality. The relief from clearing it was extraordinary. No surprise I never hear that anymore.
Also clicktrack the feelings of being obsessed. Imagine being really obsessed to an extreme about doing something or thinking about something and clicktrack it until it's down to a 1 or 0.
Here is some more info on working with anxiety.
I suspect the more you straighten out your anger and self-worth the more your anxiety will go down.January 12, 2018 at 8:17 pm#25691LPPSTEC User
Thank you for your reply Paul. You've certainly given me more to think about. I do find that the judgement I assign to my thoughts makes me feel embarrassed, so I'll definitely work on that emotion.
As far as my anger, I feel like I previously worked through the feelings of anger I had (may still have) towards the individuals responsible for my trauma (I confronted them several years ago), but perhaps I have some residual feelings that need to be dealt with. I will definitely explore this emotion with more depth as I move forward.
The primary feelings that I'm conscious of having are fear and grief. In the short amount of time I've been using PSTEC, I'm so encouraged by the amount of relief I already feel (and prior to PSTEC, I didn't realize I needed this relief). The effects produced by the Accelerator were quite astonishing to me!
As an aside, can you use CT1 CT2 and/or the Accelerator to suggest positives? If so, how should I go about doing this?
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