What would you give up for safety?

We can always come up with a rational reasons to excuse self-destructive compulsions while we chase safety. But chasing that feeling is no different than chasing any other feeling: it only leads to more of the experiences you’re trying to avoid.

5 comments On What would you give up for safety?

  • Hey Mark. I have a question I notice that when I do OCD treatment it only works for 2 days the most. It doesn’t matter which treatment I used it could be ERP, Mindfulness or even refocusing on my values. How can I go about it in this matter.

    Also if you have tics as well which one you should focus the most to treat the OCD or the tics or both.

    Thank You

    • There are a bunch of issues here: 1) Mindfulness isn’t a treatment for OCD. It’s a skill. It can help with cutting out compulsions but you still have to cut out the compulsions. 2) ERP is something you do. ERP is about you not engaging in compulsions. So you’re either choosing to do compulsions or choosing not to do compulsions. If you choose to do the compulsions, then that’s not ERP, that’s just OCD. ERP, as a therapy, also would go on for many weeks, probably months. It would be months of cutting out compulsions each day, progressively tackling more and more compulsions each week. 3) You’re probably going to find it very helpful to work with an experienced therapist or follow along with a program in a book on something like ERP. That can be a great way to learn about how it actually works.

      I find it useful to approach physical tics in the same way as OCD.

  • I was once diagnosed as having ocs or subclinical ocd. Is that really a diagnosis? I don’t suffer from extreme compulsions but I do alot of avoiding and some checking. Your video hit the nail on the head. I give up a lot of things for safety. How do I overcome my fears and stop giving up the things I enjoy?

    • It can help to do the things you enjoy to overcome your fears. Trying to overcome them first will only deepen them and make them more of a barrier. When you do things you value in life, you get that opportunity to experience the fear, accept it, and show your brain it doesn’t need to be afraid. Whenever we avoid something, we teach our brain that it is bad and dangerous. So it’ll only obsess about even more things that could be bad or dangerous or whatever. OCD is a practice. The more we engage in compulsions, the worse it becomes. When they told you that you had “subclinical OCD”, what was likely happening is that they were using a score, like the Yale Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale to measure how much compulsions were interfering in your life. And you didn’t score over the threshold that would classify as OCD but you came close to it. And that can be useful to recognize because there’s no need to wait for things to get so bad that it is classified as an illness. Getting sick doesn’t need to be the prerequisite for being healthy. You’ve seen how compulsions are getting in the way of living your life the way you want to, so now is a great time to change that.

  • Hey Mark,

    Since watching your videos I have begun to question a lot of the “rational” avoidances in my life. These are the ones that aren’t typically associated with extreme OCD, but cause you to live a paranoid and inauthentic life (eg. Avoiding that martial arts tournament because injury risk is higher). I have made tons of new choices, and am now doing lots more of the stuff I value…albeit being pretty scared a lot of the time.

    I have been getting really stuck with self-doubt, however, because any time fear is involved I feel the need to think deeply about whether I “should” engage in the behaviour anyways or whether I have gotten too obsessive about facing fears. I have friends who ride their bikes home from parties drunk, but since this scares me I get into extremely intrusive internal dialogue about whether I’m just being paranoid, what I’d do if fear weren’t present, is OCD exposure causing me to risk my life, etc.

    A good practice that I’ve been using for this is letting go of the issue if I go back and forth and if there’s an intrusive need to resolve it as some kind of policy, and generally leaving those kinds of decisions to the moment I need to make them. I try and build “in the moment” trust, instead of trying to analyze all my future situations.

    I was wondering how you dealt with this kind of self-doubt, and being caught between the fears that “you’re going too far” and “you’re relapsing”.

    Alex

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