I should be upfront and say that i removed this post for a day as i was conflicted as to whether or not to leave it up – The reason being that you won’t need to work on the language you use when working with your anxiety if you do the Kisssmilebreatherepeat and “going reptile” as your language will change automatically as your perceptions change due to feeling different/better. However, i had a message from a friend who really liked it so it’s back up – And even though i know you don’t need this, here it is anyway.
“Hey, how you doing there buddy – say what? – OK, i’ll check that out, thanks for the warning. You know what, i checked it out and it’s actually ok but thanks for the tip off, you are a legend”.
I don’t know where that little scene came from but i wanted to write some thoughts about the subject of language and how we communicate with anxiety – and the massive impact that language (and “approach”) can have.
When anxiety rears it’s ugly head – and i’m talking the unhelpful, debilitating type, not the type of anxiety that keeps you alive in the jungle or some other truly “wild” place or situation. The kind that says “better wash your hands for longer -actually, do them again, there may still be germs or something on there and you have to get them off” – The worse thing that you can do is tell yourself you are being stupid or to “stop worrying” – or the anxiety to shut up or go away. No one likes being told to shut up or go away, especially not a part of you – by you. One of the things that helped me recover just started happening naturally as “triggers” were “released” by the release of “tension”/trauma via musculoskeletal relaxation/release – And if you are working with me already you will almost certainly have this experience too – But if you’ve not yet reached that stage, let’s try and get a head start.
As said above, how you communicate with your anxiety is important and above is an ideal (if a tad hollywood) example of how to do it. Don’t try to stop it, berate it or tell it to go away and stop ruining your life – It’s part of you and it sincerely believes that it is helping you – It doesn’t realise it’s ruining your life. We need to talk to it the way we would talk to a friend – to our own child.
A little education can help in these situations. Let’s say we are talking about germs/germophobia – a mixture of “contamination” and “checking” and a common “form”/symptom of anxiety/OCD. Knowing a little about how germs actually spread, how bad they actually are etc gives you the “soft ammunition” to talk to your anxiety with. So, the next time it pops up – triggered by your approach to the sink – or the running water – and does “it’s thing” – say “hi buddy – yeah, just washing the hands – oh and guess what i read the other day – washing too much actually reduces the protective oils and can cause the skin to crack, making it easier for viruses to get in – You know what, we should actually just use a normal soap and do 15-20 seconds and that’s ideal – that cool with you?”. And the next time they don’t even (really) need a rinse, the same approach but take it to the next stage – “You know what buddy, we’ve only been out and about and i don’t feel anything on my hands – we’ve not been exposed to anything harmful – we are not about to eat – Let’s let those oils and good bacteria get a chance to recover and give us even more protection – after all, from the day we’ve had and the protection our immune system gives us, even if we did have something on our hands, it’s not going to be any worse than a slight stomach upset – and that’s absolutely worse case scenario – remember that article we read about poison and the dose being important?”.
I know my description above isn’t perfect and i’ve avoided getting “technical” as in my experience, that can often make things worse, “analysis paralysis” as you go through the minutiae of the science.
The language/approach above applies particularly to 3 of the most common forms of OCD, whether checking, contamination or hoarding. Rumination/intrusive thoughts are different and my experience with them very limited – however, by being curious, asking questions of your anxiety in a friendly way, you interrupt the process (and “befriend” your anxiety) which is powerful in itself. Add to this the work being done by the other methods and powerful change is possible. These conditions are “caused” by a type of fear – and that’s a perception – and when you “feel” differently (chemistry, energy) you perceive differently – Trust that as you “feel” better, the triggers will just disappear -i know it sounds simple but it really is – the best things always are.
Thanks and don’t forget – read more Calvin and Hobbes.