Hope & Recovery Blog

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Always a Solution

by James Callner, MA, AFOCD President. James Callner is an award winning writer, filmmaker and speaker on mental illness. I was desperate for solutions in 1982. That was the year my OCD symptoms hit their peak. I was 29 years old, teaching at a local college,...

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OCD Threat vs. Real Threat
Here's a simplified version of what I have learned about the workings of OCD over many years: Your mind perceives a threat of some kind. Your amygdala then immediately fires off a fight or flight response. You take flight, manifesting in the form of anxiety. The perceived threat keeps looping in your thoughts, and this loop can lead to compulsions in order to control the flight response. A mind, conditioned to respond to real and perceived threats, will now be in this feedback loop. As you can imagine, this is a nightmare for someone with OCD. How do we differentiate between real-world threats and threats that OCD lies to us about so we aren’t constantly in flight mode?
Once I was on the off ramp of the freeway and an ambulance went flying by my car. The OCD fears hit immediately: Could I get sick from any germs magically flying in the air from that ambulance? No. Why? If that were true, hundreds if not thousands of cars that the ambulance drove by would all be "contaminated" too. That’s an example of an OCD thought that creates an imagined threat in our minds.
Another day I had to stop suddenly on the freeway to avoid hitting a car that stopped too fast. Adrenaline hit me immediately. This was a different threat. It was a real threat. My fight or flight response resulted in slamming on my breaks and I avoided a wreck that day.
So, what's the lesson here? Identify OCD threats as lies. Then breathe. The probability of an OCD threat being real is so low that we can safely say: OCD always lies.
Once you name it as OCD you are now in the process and awareness of taming it before it moves into anxiety. Awareness of what is an OCD thought and what is not an OCD thought is a powerful tool. Personally, I try to “name it to tame it “ all the time. JC <3
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3 hours ago

OCD Threat vs. Real Threat
Heres a simplified version of what I have learned about the workings of OCD over many years: Your mind perceives a threat of some kind. Your amygdala then immediately fires off a fight or flight response. You take flight, manifesting in the form of anxiety. The perceived threat keeps looping in your thoughts, and this loop can lead to compulsions in order to control the flight response. A mind, conditioned to respond to real and perceived threats, will now be in this feedback loop. As you can imagine, this is a nightmare for someone with OCD. How do we differentiate between real-world threats and threats that OCD lies to us about so we aren’t constantly in flight mode?
Once I was on the off ramp of the freeway and an ambulance went flying by my car. The OCD fears hit immediately: Could I get sick from any germs magically flying in the air from that ambulance? No. Why? If that were true, hundreds if not thousands of cars that the ambulance drove by would all be contaminated too.  That’s an example of an OCD thought that creates an imagined threat in our minds.
Another day I had to stop suddenly on the freeway to avoid hitting a car that stopped too fast. Adrenaline hit me immediately. This was a different threat. It was a real threat. My fight or flight response resulted in slamming on my breaks and I avoided a wreck that day.  
So, whats the lesson here? Identify OCD threats as lies. Then breathe. The probability of an OCD threat being real is so low that we can safely say: OCD always lies.
Once you name it as OCD you are now in the process and awareness of taming it before it moves into anxiety. Awareness of what is an OCD thought and what is not an OCD thought is a powerful tool. Personally, I try to “name it to tame it “ all the time. JC

A technique that I've used over the years to this day–I mean, almost every hour. This technique deals with countering those was horrible obsessions of OCD. Every single OCD recovery mentor, teacher or therapist have all told me the same thing. Words have power to change your physiology, your biology and they will expand onto themselves. We all know that OCD creates negative horrible fearful thoughts and internal words that we buy into and anxiety ensues. Examples: I’ll never get over this, it's impossible, I'm unworthy, it's my fault, I'm not strong enough, I can't do it, I have to do it or something bad will happen, I'm crazy, etc,etc... (BTW, you're not crazy) The technique that I've been using is kind of like the game that calms me down. It brings me back home. And even a little bit of home is better than anxiety or panic. Here's how it goes. If OCD relentlessly pounds my head with–I can't, I counter with I can. OCD says I'm unworthy– I say I'm worthy. If OCD says–I have to - I say I prefer to. If OCD says–I'm weak, I say–I'm strong. You get the idea. There's enough negativity in this world and I'm not going to be a part of it whether I have OCD or not! You can make that decision too. I encourage you to make a list what's right in your life. A list of positive words you can use to counter OCD's constant negativity. Even if you don't believe the words right now, make the list anyway because what you do and think expands. What do you have to lose except negative OCD thoughts. Remember, it's not about being happy, happy, happy which would be nice - but please. It's about teaching your brain to be mindful of the good stuff not just the bad. And there is–good stuff, even if we don't see it in ourselves right now. JC <3 ... See MoreSee Less

2 weeks ago

A technique that Ive used over the years to this day–I mean, almost every hour. This technique deals with countering those was horrible obsessions of OCD. Every single OCD recovery mentor, teacher or therapist have all told me the same thing. Words have power to change your physiology, your biology and they will expand onto themselves. We all know that OCD creates negative horrible fearful thoughts and internal words that we buy into and anxiety ensues. Examples: I’ll never get over this, its impossible, Im unworthy, its my fault, Im not strong enough, I cant do it, I have to do it or something bad will happen, Im crazy, etc,etc... (BTW, youre not crazy) The technique that Ive been using is kind of like the game that calms me down. It brings me back home. And even a little bit of home is better than anxiety or panic. Heres how it goes. If OCD relentlessly pounds my head with–I cant, I counter with I can. OCD says Im unworthy– I say Im worthy. If OCD says–I have to - I say I prefer to. If OCD says–Im weak, I say–Im strong. You get the idea. Theres enough negativity in this world and Im not going to be  a part of it whether I have OCD or not! You can make that decision too. I encourage you to make a list whats right in your life. A list of positive words you can use to counter OCDs constant negativity. Even if you dont believe the words right now, make the list anyway because what you do and think expands. What do you have to lose except negative OCD thoughts. Remember, its not about being happy, happy, happy which would be nice - but please. Its about teaching your brain to be mindful of the good stuff not just the bad. And there is–good stuff, even if we dont see it in ourselves right now.  JC

Is this photography perfect? Nah, not even close by my standards. I took it a couple of days ago because it captured my interest. But, I certainly can take better photos. I keep learning, experimenting and trying. You know, you don't have to be perfect. Let me say that again. You don't have to be perfect, at all. I grew up trying my best to be perfect. The perfect son, the perfect brother, the perfect friend, the perfect artist, the perfect person in recovery, etc etc. It never really worked. Now in my 60s, I know that's not how life works. Striving but never really arriving–is not recovery. It's not life either. Being in the now, appreciating baby steps, being grateful that you are here– and maybe, just maybe you’ll start to be a little calmer than you were five minutes ago. Hey, sometimes calmer for a minute is good enough for me. Progress not perfection - is what it's called momentum. Steady steps will lead to bigger steps. And as the momentum takes hold you start doing things you thought you could never do. I know it’s hard – but try anyway. I will too. JC <3 ... See MoreSee Less

3 weeks ago

Is this photography perfect? Nah, not even close by my standards. I took it a couple of days ago because it captured my interest. But, I certainly can take better photos. I keep learning, experimenting and trying. You know, you dont have to be perfect. Let me say that again. You dont have to be perfect, at all. I grew up trying my best to be perfect. The perfect son, the perfect brother, the perfect friend, the perfect artist, the perfect person in recovery, etc etc. It never really worked. Now in my 60s, I know thats not how life works. Striving but never really arriving–is not recovery. Its not life either. Being in the now, appreciating baby steps, being grateful that you are here– and maybe, just maybe you’ll start to be a little calmer than you were five minutes ago. Hey, sometimes calmer for a minute is good enough for me. Progress not perfection - is what its called momentum. Steady steps will lead to bigger steps. And as the momentum takes hold you start doing things you thought you could never do. I know it’s hard – but try anyway. I will too. JC

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Pretty good, though . Pictures have an energy, they capture a moment and allow us to relive that moment or that energy. "Perfect" might be nice in a pic but I have some far from perfect that still capture the moment and make me smile or bring back a memory and that's good enough. Better than no pic at all, definitely.

I like to draw it helps

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Disclaimer

OCD Coaching Videos are not designed to replace professional OCD Therapy. They are intended to help in the education and coaching for those suffering with OCD. James Callner is an OCD Educator and Coach, teaching from over 35 years of his own recovery experience. The Coaching Videos, Blog Posts and other information on this website are not a replacement for a professional therapist. Mr. Callner contributes his videos to the OCD Treatment Centre in Taunton England. OCD Treatment Centre therapists approve all OCD Coaching Videos. .