June 25, 2012

This too shall pass.....



This is a photo of my living room wall.  I put this saying up a few months ago, after my Mom died.  At the time, it was to remind me that the horrible feelings of grief that I was experiencing wouldn't last forever.  That I would get through it all....that it would all pass. 

Of course, I am doing a lot better in the grieving department.  However, as I've written in several posts, I am still so incredibly averse to allowing myself room to experience negative feelings.  It's amazing how subtle a difference it is for me, but I really do have to consciously open myself up - and consciously let it all in. 

It dawned on me several weeks ago though, that this saying has much greater meaning than to "reassure" me that bad feelings won't last.  The point is, that nothing lasts.  "Good" feelings and "bad" ones.  "Pleasant" situations and "unpleasant" ones.  And, of course this is another lesson to me for dealing with my OCD. 

I've been doing so well lately.  Lots of mindfulness, lots of reminding myself that it really is only IN THE MOMENT that we can make the choice to either move towards a life free from fear/OCD or we can give in to OCD's demands.  That conviction is so hard for me some days!  Manifesting the courage....somedays seems almost impossible.  But I remind myself that it really is moment-by-moment that we can choose. 

And.......I got too attached to being free of the thoughts.  I got over-confident.  This has happened to me before, and I am in the midst of getting back on track.  But - the interesting thing is that this saying is so poignant here as well.  The lesson for me is to not become too attached to "feeling good" and not averse to "struggling".  Not an easy thing for me to work with, but I am doing my best these days. 

It's almost one year since attending my first OCD converence in San Diego.  I recall Dr. Reid Wilson's talk about dealing with OCD.  I found it inspiring.  He discussed a quote that I have seen in Buddhist writings.  It goes something like: "When a dog is chasing you, whistle for him.".  It's really only in the moment - EVERY SINGLE MOMENT - that I have a choice to turn towards my fear or run from it.  My perfectionism wants me to do it all right - NOW.  I have to remind myself for "progress, not perfection".....and do my best to be compassionate with myself when I fall down.  I tend to be my own worst enemy, which just makes it worse. 

I'd love to hear your comments about how you are kind and compassionate with yourself when you "screw up" or get off track. 


13 comments:

  1. I really love what you said about not being too attached to feeling good. Obviously we all want to feel good all the time but it's just not possible or normal. I too have to learn that a time of struggling is to be expected and the world won't come to an end if I have some unpleasant feelings. It sure takes practice.

    I'm not really sure how to explain how I'm kind to myself. I guess I just decide not to hold it against myself and allow myself to think nice thoughts about myself even if I don't think I deserve those nice thoughts. Don't know if I'm making any sense or not.

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    1. Sunny - I'm glad what I posted was helpful to you!!! And thanks for your comments - you seem a little more skilled at being kind to yourself....something I'm working on!!!

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  2. Hi Cannuck,

    First of all I wanted to say that I am new to your blog and just recently subscribed - and that this one was the first post that had come directly to my inbox.

    Reading it this morning I felt so close to what you're saying - it could well be exactly one of my diary entries :) So first of all (oh wait, I've said that one before, so now it's 'second of all' :) ) I think you're amazing in being so receptive to life, making sense of all your thoughts and feelings and having the ability to put all this into words. I have the feeling that us people with OCD seem to be so overly receptive to our environment (both a result and a cause of our condition?) that we continuously seem to struggle to make sense of everything external and internal to us - and in those times we seem to forget that lots of other people have the same issues, as most other people we meet seem to be so secure/confident/oblivious to all the things we think about. So I just wanted to send you lots of love from the other side of the world.

    I also wanted to add a few more bits and bobs that came to my mind.

    I exactly understand everything you've said, and to an extent it's true that it can have the adverse effect when getting too attached to good feelings. HOWEVER - often we just draw the conclusion that 'oh, I just got too attached to a good thought/feeling/period so it's no wonder that I bounced back into suffering' - and this, I find, often has a subtle quality of another underlying conviction that is 'I didn't deserve to feel well for too long/I was too keen so I deserve a set-back' etc, all of which are a disguise for self-deprecating tendencies.

    Because - you know what? OF COURSE IT'S NORMAL THAT WE WANT TO FEEL GOOD!! We've had an excessive amount of suffering in our lives which we do not deserve, because we're incredibly sensitive and caring individuals! So please don't get too much into the habit of thinking 'maybe I shouldn't want to feel good too much, because it will be destroyed again anyways'. This is NOT non-attachment - this is resignation.

    (to be continued below...)

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  3. I found that there's 2 different but equally important pillars of dealing with our illness: the first pillar would be 'how to deal with the state of fear/intimidation once it has set in' (e.g. mindfulness, self-compassion etc.) whilst the second pillar is 'create a mindset in which those doubts don't come up or at least don't have the 'usual' power in the first place'. The first is by nature a more reactive process, the second a more active one.

    I found that for long periods of time I got too focused on no 1 - and being in a constant reactive mindset actually reinforces the perceived power we think this illness has over us. We become so used to feeling overpowered and intimidated by listening to the constant doubts in our heads that it impacts our whole being in ways so subtle that they are hard to detect. So what I want to emphasise here is that no 2 is equally important - and for me this is a whole big bag best described as self-empowerment and determination. (This has a bit of a wanky self-help ring to it but please bear with me.)

    Self-empowerment for me means to do healing things that ARE NOT NECESSARILY RELATED TO THE OCD (i.e. not being a response but a whole different process that, however, ultimately strengthens your whole being), e.g. standing up for yourself in general. Tell other people when something upsets you; stand up for your own opinion; generally do things with more determination and conviction as you don't have to fear someone/something to spoil it for you and say 'you're not entitled to do/think/feel that'.
    Say something even though you're not entirely sure whether it's the right thing to say (no one ever does!); make a suggestion to someone even though you're not sure whether it's exactly fitting (it's only a suggestion!); if you can't decide between two things just smile, take one, and see what happens; if you meet a new person just be a little bit more determined and confident about saying your name and making conversation; etc.... So if you slowly practice your self-worth, your determination, your beautiful energies in tiny little situation in everyday life, it automatically strengthens your inner confidence - and really, I experienced that this in turn actually quietens the doubts in your head without even focusing on them in particular! Because you're automatically less receptive to them and in turn you need to think less about 'response' strategies, as those responses are required less often.

    Of course I often fall back into 'reactive' mind-mode and that's fine too - because even if we do we a) still have our coping strategies and b) we haven't lost any of the 2nd pillar we have started building - we simply have to continue building it where we left off!

    So, in order to close the 'circle of sense' of this post: you DO have the right to feel good and to want to feel good! Because wanting to feel good is coming from a healthy place and is a sign of self-worth, and if you draw energy from it to stand-up for yourself and stand up against adverse energies (not only in your head but in every area of life! It's all interrelated!) you will gain inner and outer strength that will have a positive impact on you and a mitigating impact on our condition. And the fact that we sometimes get attached to it too much is only entirely natural if you consider the amount of time we spent in suffering!

    I very much hope this makes sense - and am looking forward to any comments :)

    Annie x

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    1. Hi Annie -

      Thanks for your kind words and comments! Yes, I agree with your two pillars comment....I'm really working on the second at the moment. I also agree that it's natural ("normal") to not want to suffer anymore. That being said, the ATTACHMENT to feeling good is what can potentially get me in trouble, because that sets me off in another OCD cycle of resistance, and trying to "fix" it, rather than just noticing it, not judging it and letting it pass.
      Welcome to my blog :o)

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  4. Well, Annie's comment is a tough act to follow :), but I did want to say that you seem to be so hard on yourself sometimes......as you say you are your own worst enemy. You deserve kindness, compassion and understanding....from yourself! You have been through so much and have come out so strong......give yourself all the credit that you deserve!

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    1. Thanks Janet. :o) I'm working on being more "OK" with myself. And thanks for the genuine pat on the back.

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  5. I have been struggling with pure-o for three years, I have had ups and downs and am currently in a setback. It's tough. My pure o is focused mostly on am I crazy or am I depressed or am I suidical. It's even hard to write. I try to observe my thoughts and remain unemotional towards them but my mind will figure out away around that too! I believe there is hope for us though. I read once life isn't about comfort it's about living. The panic attacks are the worst part for me since I get physical symptoms like upset stomach and chest tightness. I try to sit in the cold pool like the books say. I feel like I'm obsessed with becoming unobsessed and it's hard. I try to be confident and stay focused on work and family. I gotta unthink my way outta this. So glad you are blogging about your story, it's comforting to know we are not alone and we are still living our lives!

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    1. Hi Brooke! It sounds like we have the same type of P-OCD. I can totally relate with you when you say that your mind finds a way around it. I too have the OCD where I think that I am crazy or depressed or suicidal. Yes, and that was hard for me to write too haha. Just when I think I have figured things out and have desensitized my fear, my mind starts to analyze and I wind up in that anxious state again. I too, have many ups and downs and it is frustrating but some things that help me are thinking that there is always an up after the down, and that people get through this, and that yes, we can live while we are healing. We can still live our lives and live our lives fully! One of my goals lately is to live the unaltered life and keep going on with life as normal and not let myself wallow in my OCD, so ill go on a run instead of sitting at home. I wish you the best and am here for support if you need it! We can do this together!

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  6. Thanks so much for this post, Canuck - it's beautiful. I have a really hard time with the concept of self-compassion. I hope to come to the point where I can view my struggles with kindness instead of pity.

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  7. I am awed by your changes since I first found your blog! You are in the heart of it, the growing edge. My husband said when he used to bicycle, that if a dog came at him, he'd charge right at it, and the unexpectedness would make the dog run away. Counterintuitive and yet very much like ERP, mindfulness and facing fears. I was listening to an interview with Kristen Neff about self-compassion and how most emotional pain lasts a limited amount of time if we don't flee from it, that suffering equals pain times resistance.

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    1. Yes!!! You are so right Expwoman and thank you for your kind words!! :o) I hope you continue to do well.

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  8. I'm really happy when I read about someone's progress! HUGS

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