According to Stopbullying.gov “bullying …involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time.” They also state that those that are bullied “may have serious, lasting problems.”
This definition sounds very much like the relationship many individuals experience with OCD. Is OCD bullying you? Is there a power imbalance? Who is calling the shots every day? Is OCD causing serious and lasting problems?
It doesn’t have to be that way! For starters, you need to know the best way to deal with your bully (OCD), and here are some suggestions.
When dealing with the OCD bully, DO NOT:
- Fight or argue with OCD. This actually reinforces the thinking patterns.
- Ignore OCD. Advice for dealing with real bullies states that ignoring them sends the signal that the victim “will take it.” Have you also noticed what happens when you try to ignore a child with a temper tantrum? He only gets louder. So does OCD!
- Engage in conversation. Rationalizing or trying to figure things out is engaging in conversation with your bully. This is one of OCD’s best tricks. It makes you believe you’ll find the answer that you want. Have you noticed it really doesn’t work permanently? Don’t give OCD what he wants –more doubts.
- Obey OCD! Of course this is the most difficult part of dealing with OCD. You can “humor” him and still disobey him. Do things on your own terms not OCD’s terms.
- Give OCD a name. Kids are taught to do this, and adults can do it too! Doing so will help you feel empowered. Doing so will also give you the opportunity to “talk” to him when he shows up.
- Acknowledge the thoughts and feelings that OCD is giving you. Many individuals try to suppress their thoughts and this only worsens the situation. However, when they acknowledge them, they are actually accepting them and facing them. This is only the beginning to help you prepare for the exposure and response prevention segment of your treatment.
- Be proactive in putting yourself in situations that may be difficult. Decide to be willing to experience the anxiety and uncertainty OCD brings at least for a few seconds, and gradually increase the duration of time that you are willing to experience the uncomfortable feelings. Remember that what you’ve been doing (the DO NOT’s above) has not worked thus far.
- Find the right provider to help you understand how to learn to be willing to accept uncertainty.
- Do what matters the most in your life. Remember that OCD is only a sliver in the wheel of life. You have a full life to live!
Make the choice to stand up to your OCD “bully” right now.
You can do it!