Thoughts and Feelings – Not Threats and Facts…

OCD  – Breaking the Cycle #Recoveryispossible

‘It’s there again – the buzzing in my head , moving outward like an itch under the skin , the anxiety creeps in .. the voice keeps talking – the buzzing gets louder .. I try to ignore it , suppress it .. it just keeps coming like a drill in my brain .. and then the fear .. If I don’t listen, if I don’t do it , get it just right, something bad will happen .. no it won’t what are you saying ? – yes it will .. do it  .. do it … DO IT!

The compulsion builds and there is  only one way to break this , to make it go away and that is to take action .. to get it right , to keep doing it until the thought is soothed. And so I work through it – the relief floods through my body …. the tragedy is averted … but then .. a small buzzing like a fly start to appear .. what if .. what if… what if ?’

This is a description from one of my clients who was trapped in the cycle of OCD. As we spoke about during my awareness week this is a very different picture than one sometimes portrayed by people who use phrases such as – ‘oh that’s my OCD kicking in .. ‘or ‘I am a little bit OCD with that.’.so let’s be clear you are never just a little bit OCD. If you have OCD – Obsessive Compulsive Disorder – then you have it full on . Yes to different degrees but to have a disorder it needs to be having a direct impact on your life and your ability to function in the way you would want to . – so there is no such thing as ‘ a little bit OCD!’ .. and those reading this who are living with it or have experienced someone living with it will know it’s not be belittled and it’s not something you want.

However just as it’s my firm believe that you can’t just be a bit OCD  – it is also my firm belief that you can become totally NOT OCD.. yes permanent relief and recovery is possible.

I can’t go through the whole process in one blog but in this I want to focus on one of the first and most important principles I teach when working with people in this space – the principle that allows them to gain a different perspective and to lay the foundations for what is to come.. this principle does not cure the problem in itself ( much as I wish for my clients it would) but it gives them a view-point that creates a change .. and with change we have transformation and with transformation we can move from the space of simply doing things differently to actually being and feeling different.

Before looking to make change we must first understand that the cycle which starts with the obsessive thought and then moves on to the emotion or feeling is just that, a thought and a feeling. Generated in our mind with nothing to do with the external reality we are living in right now. That the thought and the feeling cannot influence our reality and cannot live outside of our mind… just because you think something doesn’t make it true and just because you feel something doesn’t mean it will happen …

This is a different type of thought and feeling which is owns space alongside logical thought and working as it should – to protect ourselves from danger — so for example you might have a thought that if you step out in front of  the car approaching you will be injured .. and this creates a  feeling of natural nervousness and then we take action by stepping back. Then you cross when it’s clear and you pay no more attention to it.

The thoughts and feelings in the OCD cycle are not working in the space with our logical thought – they are not based on actual events – they are based on illogical thoughts and perceived reactions.

With Mindfulness Based therapy we don’t spend energy at this stage trying to change the thought – we look to accept we are having this thought .. and it is just that a thought we having. However we are now learning to be fully present and understanding that right now we are sitting in the therapy chair perhaps , holding a warming cup of tea , the thought can stay there but we do not have to act and it cannot, on it’s own, become more than a thought.

In the same way a feeling we experience is our body going through a physiological reaction or a psychological reaction. It is the feeling it is – we acknowledge that – perhaps it is anxiety , perhaps it is fear , – however again we do not need to take action. As we learn to explore this we see that when we do not take action – the feared event does not happen. .. and so our brain starts to be re-trained with the evidence.

More and more I find that Mindfulness is a tool which works alongside traditional therapy – to create the space in which to see different choices – to remove us from the noise that is hindering us and allow us to start to simply be and breath … and in this space #recoveryispossible.

Why not come over to the Bemoore Face Book Group – Reconnection and join in the conversation and find support ?

https://www.facebook.com/groups/Bemoorefindyourroar/

If you need help with OCD or Self Harm Behaviours drop me a note at amoore@bemooretherapy.co.uk.

Coming soon – dedicated webpage to OCD/Self Harm Support

Online coaching course to introduce you to my Reconnection Programme.

 

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What ever gets you through the day !

Faith , Belief , Hope … and mugs of tea ….

Fresh start week is coming to a close at Bemoore  and people have been exploring the process of valuing self , making themselves a priority and also following on from last weeks blog, acceptance of now.

Something which has been on my mind lately around this is the thought of what we turn to in times of difficulty for comfort and support. What keeps us on track outside of that inner motivation?

In my studies for becoming a Celebrant in my community there is much about valuing different types of faiths and beliefs. Celebrant services can be based on anychosen religion or faith system and this can of course include Humanist views or non religious beliefs. The importance for us in our role is to be mindful and respectful of all the different faiths and beliefs we can come across.

In my professional life as a therapist I am all about the science behind the support. What evidence is there that an approach works? – firstly through traditional forms of therapy and then through our newer approaches such as Mindfulness it is important to understand the actual tangible impact on the brain … but brain and mind are two different things ( something worth exploring further in the wonderful Dan Seigal book – Mind ).  Brain is making changes and re- wiring but mind is about mind-set and our inner thoughts. For me a combination of both scientific approach and embracing a belief and a way of seeing the world are a big part of my work with clients.

I can be discussing the reconsolidation of memory through the neurological system one moment and just as happy to chat through a spiritual view or a form of visualization in the next.

In my private life faith plays a role for me and my exploration in recent years has expanded. I started out being brought up in the Church of England – non practising really apart from the usual but I remember going to Sunday school – I am not sure why I went or whose choice but I went for quite a while. Then as a teenager I went to the local Catholic school – my dad’s family were lapsed Catholic’s but I had no knowledge of this faith system – the school was very local and I had been bullied in my previous and this was a fresh start for me as not many of my previous peer group were transferring.

Then in my twenties I discovered Paganism and initially an interest in Wicca . It seemed quite daring and was still not covered by laws such as the Religious Discrimination Act which didn’t come into play until 2005. I found it fascinating to learn such a different way of thinking and to discover such a peaceful and nature based way of life. This faith system has stayed with me throughout my adult life.  I again can’t say I am the most dedicated but I like to attend the Chalice Well for main celebrations and my faith was tested, but also a great sense of comfort for me when I lost my son 10 years ago. I like many was angry at my loss ,but I was blessed in the sense that the hospital chaplain ( a Christian man) came to visit and he was respectful of my beliefs and he agreed to hold the funeral service incorporating some key points and words which meant I could have my faith included . It was a wonderful sign of religious inclusiveness which often I feel is missing for many people. It showed me that we could comfort one another, even though we believed different things, we could still be a community.

As the years have passed I have become interested in many different paths – Buddhism and now the new belief system which is seen as Spirituality but not always alongside a faith in something bigger.

Spirituality is about how you feel in side . Whether you are in line with your intentions and purpose – anyone can experience spirituality of self and others and world even if they hold no religious beliefs – that is my view anyway. And it comes through with clients who have not got a specific faith but in times of challenges look for something to turn to. To describe how they feel , to comfort and to look to answers that they cannot put their finger on. Many people I speak to now talk of the Universe listening ( something I firmly believe in) .. or of giving and receiving of the right energy to make positive change.

My view I guess is that all faiths and believes are worth respecting – do not be dismissive.. however as we say in the Pagan world – ‘Do as you will – lest it harms non or thrice back it will come’ – basically be kind to others or the universe is listening and karma will out.

For me what ever gets you through the day or the difficult time or gives you some peace is something worth holding onto. Whatever you call it and of course not forgetting that all important fixer of all things – the mug of tea which is ever present in my therapy room at home.

Have a mindful and peaceful week . Ali x

Acceptance

First you need to accept the you you are now .. and the memories which have already been made .. then you can make change.

 

A theme through this week’s thoughts and posts at Bemoore HQ has been about facing up to past events, taking on past emotions and accepting the you you are right now.

Clients are often very keen to move on and make change – to escape and put behind them past trauma. This is so understandable. However when past incidents are still not resolved and past emotion is still lurking, the current presenting problems in the now will not simply go away by thinking about things differently – although this is a part of making change… but only a part.

You see the past does matter .. it is part of where you are now and who you are now. Everything which we experience leads us to make choices.. some we feel very in control of and others we feel are made for us.. but each of these experiences leads us to the now.  So trying to simply pretend the past did not happen in itself to me is madness. It did happen , it cannot un-happen.

Two of the most common ways people look to work through is :

  1. Just filing it away in that invisible box and closing the lid – hoping and hoping it never starts to peak through. – Yep done that myself a lot!

OR

  1. Brooding over what they could or should have done differently . – Yep again also that !

Just as the first won’t truly resolve things then the second is using wasted energy.

Two of my most inspirational teachers I look to when seeking wise words say the following

Iyanla Vanzant says ‘ You can cover up the past and try to block it out with drink , with drugs , with eating , with shopping .. but it will still seep through. Until you reach in there and pull out that pain and look it in the face you will not find resolution’

Maya Angelou said that ‘ the choice you made at the time you made the choice was the only choice to be made .. and that world you think might have been with a different choice or action .. it didn’t exist then and it never will.’

Which brings us back to facing up to it and accepting. I work with clients to help them safely go back to those traumatic experiences and reconsolidate the memory with the lingering emotion. To gain a greater understanding of what happened and to see things from a different perspective. It can seem scary at first to have to go back and re live what has happened.. it is not always clear what incident or incidents need to be addressed but with time and patience it happens…. and the more the client sees that by doing this they feel released from those symptoms happening the present they can make peace with the past and create a truly new future.

A part of this is also accepting who you are and your own responsibility and accountability.. learning to accept who you are and in many cases learning to like yourself and forgive yourself ( because actually that’s the forgiveness that matters)

And that’s the other point – the past does matter but you can make choices about how it effects you going forward. You can’t change what has happened but you can redefine your path and change course going forward. I suggest reading The Path by Michael Puett and Christine Gross-Loh who talk about being open to new paths and not just following what you believe is pre defined .. ‘when you are open to new paths you find parts of yourself you didn’t know existed’

Acceptance does not mean liking but it does mean to settle and from there you find the peace and the space and the stillness to truly make change.

Have a happy and mindful week

Ali x

p.s why not come over to my Facebook group Bemoore Reconnections and join in the conversations and live videos – be part of a community to support and share .

https://www.facebook.com/groups/Bemoorefindyourroar/

 

Snow Days

Reflection and Retreat .. 

This week in the UK we have been in the grip of the Beast from the East who has now been overthrown as is the way of a high achieving woman by Storm Emma… overall it’s been snowy and cold and for many chaos.

For me this is the first time we have had real ‘ weather’ since I became fully self employed and actually therefore have been able to adjust my schedule and in some way go back to living with the seasons in a way we are perhaps meant to be.

Most appointments were cancelled and road trips postponed so I found myself with a few days to fill and to simply be able to focus. I noticed that throughout the chaos what I did observe was a coming together of community. People sharing stories of adversity, charities helping those on the streets , checking in on relatives -coming together in the well known phrase ‘ Spirit of the Blitz’ . For although we get snow and cold weather on a regular basis in the UK it always seems to be a total surprise when it happens!

My community groups were exploring self care and gratitude and someone said about living seasonally. Being active and outside in the summer months and gathering and retreating in the colder times. Of course in these modern days we expect to carry on as normal but this  week has made me think perhaps our minds and our bodies at still programmed to need that seasonal life and this weather has for many forced some downtime on them they would not normally have had. Snow itself brings a feeling of stillness – a different type of light – as if nature is taking stock.

With no pressure to go into work for many , schools closed and public transport down there has been a quiet acceptance of the space – the term Snow Day has been coined when families and friends are coming together to enjoy the activities only snow will bring.  For me the snow days have brought about not just a sense of peace but also a weird productivity. Rather than feeling the days stretching out I have found myself focused on individual tasks – study , reading , admin – the things that bother me and that I normally fight to fit in between tasks. With the ability to simply sit and work on  something without watching the clock my attention span appears to have increased and I no longer feel restless. Even my morning routine is back on track- sleeping in slightly later without ‘fear of lateness’ and then enjoying the activity of yoga and dog walking.

Now many will say ‘well other countries simply just carry on’ and yet I do believe that cultures that live with extreme weather do make adjustments. One of my members talked of the notion of ‘ Hygge’  the Danish way of approaching life – it’s a feeling not a interior design concept as much as we seem to be bombarded with this theory, and means to truly embrace the moment and have slowness- not surprising this seems most embraced in the dark winter months.

Perhaps other countries are more prepared from a logistical point of view but perhaps also their view of what this time of year means allows them to appear more at one with the elements. – there is no bad weather – only bad clothing !

Next week the snow will clear for most of us and the routine and pressures of day to day life will resume – I will be interested to observe the impact this will have on my mind-set. Certainly I have enjoyed this slow time that snow time brings whilst of course being mindful of those who have experienced hardship or loss because of it.

 

As always have a mindful and happy week

Ali x