I often write about my friend who has “OCD” — obsessive compulsive disorder. Because the issues he faces are the same ones we all face.
His are just more extreme, more obsessive but they’re the same. Just two days after giving his full effort to just one simple technique he called me…
“I’m cured,” he said.
This was after months of severe anxiety states. He was shaking a lot of the time, sweating heavily at night. His thoughts were racing constantly and he couldn’t control them.
He had to stop work several times and his life was grinding to a halt as he avoided as much as he could and withdrew into his private world of pain.
The reason I’m telling you all this is to show you the amazing power of attention. The technique is simple — distraction…
Attention is where your power is. Attention is the volume control for thoughts — as I’ve told him a thousand times.
The “cure” lasted ten days. Ten days of almost complete normality with no sign of OCD. And it took only two days to go from gibbering wreck to happy and enthusiastic using only distraction. Amazing!
Old habits die hard
And his cure would have been permanent but for the fact that ten days later after burning the candle at both ends, he had some little twinges of anxiety that triggered the old way of thinking. Slowly for a further 4 days, he ramped the whole thing back up again.
Again, this has powerful lessons for all of us. “Old habits die hard” as the saying goes. After making changes, we need to be sure to bed them in well.
It’s like riding a bike
“This OCD” I tell him, “is just like riding a bike. You’ll always be able to do it. Just DON’T GET ON THE BIKE.” Unfortunately he did — despite the most severe warnings. I talk to him for hours and hours and hours. “I can’t do this without you,” he says.
The truth is that all this talking is really unnecessary in the sense that it has only one purpose. To convince him that distraction IS the answer — to explain to him that his way can never work, and to get him to commit 100% to the simple method of distraction. Once he commits; two days. He is normal after two days. Twenty years of OCD gone.
If you stick your hand in the fire… it ALWAYS burns
So… round and round we go. As I speak he’s fallen back into the old way. Now he needs me to talk him out because it’s very foggy in there. He can’t see his own way out. I hope and pray that this time he’s learned and he won’t need to stick his hand in the fire one more time to realize… IT ALWAYS BURNS!
Thoughts are… just thoughts
The lesson for you and me is that thoughts aren’t us. They are for the most part conditioned reactions that we believe in and identify with. Once you can see thoughts as just thoughts, you have the power to remove your attention from unwanted ones.
Now you have a choice — to pay attention or not. Whether it’s because you want to stop a bad habit or stop a thought loop about a girlfriend that just dumped you, the process is the same. Distract from thoughts you don’t want (ie. ignore them) and their power is gone.
The amazing power of attention
Once you know this simple process, you’ll find a thousand ways it can serve you. Someone says something hurtful? Distract. Worried about tomorrow? Distract. Craving unhealthy food? Distract.
This one simple technique ALONE can have a massive impact on your health and happiness because you always have choice. There is always a choice of where to put your attention. You can stop reacting to everything in the same old conditioned way — the way everyone else reacts — predictably.
Master the process
Now you make your decisions consciously. You are in charge — not old habits, old ways and the same old reactions. If distraction can end 20 years of misery in only 2 days, what can it do for you?
Learn and master the incredible power of attention and you’re going to get happier and happier.
It’s been 8 years I am searching for a cure. Just to tell you thank you so much, I started the attention (distraction) method and my OCD is fading away. Many thanks!!— Jad, Canada
Update: I received this feedback from the friend I talked about in the article:
Sometimes there’s things you don’t want but it’s a reality. But I now know thinking can bring nothing but more suffering. I don’t do OCD anymore. Thanks to you. Love you brother x— Paul Attwell, UK
One to one help — personal coaching
The answer is always distraction but it can be hard to reach “the point of letting go” as I call it. Thoughts can take us over rapidly and can seem incredibly urgent and meaningful.
This is where some personal coaching can help. If you’re interested in the idea, you can let me know using this form. All details are kept strictly confidential.
249 thoughts on “20 years of OCD cured in 2 days!”
Michael, do you believe that ocd can be 100% completely cured this way? For instance, if a person used this distraction method he would be fine, but will he ever be able to think of it again and not have to distract himself and just know that he wouldn’t do that? Could you be completely 100% cured of this after you keep up the distraction for awhile or will you always be able to relapse?
Hi Teddy, people are complex, the mind is complex, so though I believe that a cure is almost always possible, the number of interacting factor is big, that’s why it’s always a multi-pronged strategy. For example, nutrition affects how the brain functions, so vitamin deficiencies are a potential factor. That’s just one example… sleep, drug use, exercise habits, thought-habits in general, beliefs, etc all play their part. WHEN the only factor IS the dysfunctional thoughts, THEN correcting just that will effect the cure, as in this case. AND since this dysfunction is generally the massive factor in relation to other factors, correcting it alone, will bring massive relief, where then it is possible to make improvements in other areas.
The difficulty with OCD is getting the sufferer to the point of letting go, to the point of being UTTERLY crystal clear about how their dysfunction is self-perpetuating though thoughts/perceptions triggering biochemical responses and mind responses, and their corresponding behavior. As as we give more and more attention to a deepening problem, which is the instinctive thing to do, it worsens, we dig ourselves deeper and deeper. So all this needs to be clearly understood, and then HOW simple distraction cures it, how removal of attention cures it. So it helps if at first there is a seeing into the problem although it’s not strictly necessary if you go on faith, i.e. just do it, because someone else can see it clearly and you trust them.
From your brief question it seems as though your situation is a lot simpler than most so in that case, I would expect it to be a simple matter of removing attention from it. Imagine if I could wave a magic wand and it wasn’t there, you couldn’t think it. If that is what you want, you can make it happen by simply removing attention and not caring about it.
See here for more details: https://happy.guide/2013/12/11/big-picture-unwanted-thoughts
If you want to think about a subject again and not trigger the old stuff, then you must think different thoughts about it (thoughts that feel good) and not let your mind go to the old thoughts. So after a period of complete abstinence, you could try applying attention to the subject but in a new way. If it brings back old stuff, then you can either leave it alone again, or divert attention to your choice of thoughts about it and stay pure to that. Doing this is easier if you can control your thought, to know how to think or stop… regular meditation and no-mind practice are good for improving your ability.
Thank you. I am currently suffering with HOCD. But my questions to you michael would be the following
1. How can I 100% cure my ocd completely? Like I don’t want to have to “manage” or “control” or “cope” or “treat” my ocd. How do I cure this 100% just like once u cure cancer u are 100% cured of cancer and just can’t possibly get it again like you ABSOLUTELY are COMPLETELY 100% not with cancer and can NEVER get it again and you don’t have to cope with or treat or control it you just ARE COMPLETELY CURED OF CANCER. How do I do this for all my ocd? Not just hocd, but how do I do this so just like a person with cancer is cured AND CAN NEVER GET IT AGAIN NO MATTER WHAT. I would be able to do the same thing with my ocd.
2. When I get an HOCD thought, what should I do?
3. How long would the method u suggest take?
4. Will I be able to say “I don’t have ocd anymore, am completely 100% cured and free, and will never be able to get it again” after I use this technique?
Please answer the 4 questions seperately
Thank you very much!
Thanks for responding, I appreciate it and ur insight… so just read the book, create a new lifestyle plan containing the six needed lifestyle changes and ignore/don’t care attitude… is the way to go?!!
Yes, absolutely. The truth is always SIMPLE, and the truth is that the meaning we give to thoughts, the attention we give, is very powerful. If you look at the root causes of this issue, you have a sensitive person, a trauma (watching horror on TV), incorrect meaning given, attention and problem solving making it worse (attention is the volume control for thoughts).
To see harm thoughts as an instinctive mechanism that is quite primitive and operates when we feel under attack is the way to go. Then you can see “it’s not me” and not attach unwarranted meaning, or identification.
As you found yourself, simply CONSISTENTLY removing attention is AMAZING. Add to that lifestyle factors to put you in the best STATE, and you have a winning system.
Okay thank u so much…I just want to be clear about exactly what u mean when u say to think of the thoughts as instinctual…and when under attack…once again I can’t thank u enough
I mean they don’t mean your sister is a bad person etc. Harm thoughts are VERY common in new mothers for example, and they can be horrified that they are having these terrible thoughts about the baby they love! But it’s a primitive reaction to trauma/psychological stress. We resolve the stress, and then see it for what it is, which allows us to let it go… remove meaning and attention in every case.
– Just reading this and i was wondering if you know anything about harm OCD and if all this still applies in the helping to someone who has harm ocd. It all started when my little sister watched a “most wanted serial killer show” and she started having scary thoughts and images which(she knows its not real) but she says sometimes feel real about about harming herself or others. These thoughts bother her and she doesn’t know how to overcome them. She was never fully confident before this started but know its even more so. She suffered from this for three years without saying anything because she didn’t understand what was wrong with her and didn’t want to be shunned. Shes a very sweet, kind, lovely and caring person it just seems shes letting these thoughts get the best of her. Shes NEVER EVER acted on her thoughts but they have really taken over her life. Constant anxiety and of course having these thoughts and really being a caring person it is very hard to understand. I want to help her because i love her so much but i need some advice on just how to go about doing that. I already ordered the book and im waiting for it in the mail, but i have had anxiety so i can understand how thoughts can be overwhelming, but not these types of thoughts. After reading your website i have improved more then i have in two years (and i was constantly searching) TRUST ME. =-) Anyways, she st times feels so overwhelmed she says she feels like she gave up and she has thoghts that run along the lines of ” I dont want to get better” even though she does want to get better, so then she is confused because it’s like she does want to get better but theres a part of her that doesn’t. Its thoughts that are NOT serving her in ANYWAY. She is an amazing person and i know she is beautiful on the inside but what would be your advice on this..Is there hope with your book? Is that the right route? please help….Life is so short and i want her to get to her true potential…also if anybody else here had any harm ocd knowlegde that will HELP!! that would be great…thank you kindly and i am sending everyone out there lots of love and good energy to make it through there hardtimes….
“This too shall pass”
Hi Sarah-Lee, yes the book is the full answer because everything affects everything else. For example, organization is one of the six lifestyle elements and so if our lives are chaotic, that causes stress and will make your sisters problem worse.
Harm thoughts happen when we feel chronic physical and mental threat. Stress also plays its part but yes, these techniques have been used successfully to get rid of harm thoughts — either harm to oneself or another.
I see this pattern as somewhat instinctive, similar to the way we react to fear say. Harm thoughts are the result of chronic stress where one feels under attack.
So the answer is to look after all the six lifestyle elements which put us in the best place physically and mentally, and then distract the mind from attention to the unwanted thoughts, having a “don’t care” attitude.
So in the moment, the right response is to not care and distract. Also correct the causes of chronic stress by the 6 lifestyle elements.
Sensitive people suffer more from these kinds of problems. See this article about sensitive people for more info:
My husband had OCD ever since he met up with a Thai girl at massage parlour. He said, initially he just take her as a normal massure lady & normal chat…and after couple of months knowing & understanding her he eventually fond of her and starting to date her even knowing its not right of doing so. He found that the lady is a nice person & feel comfortable being with her. He knows he couldn’t be any more wrong so they control it well, he didn’t have sex with her.
During the 4 months of affairs…he eventually mind of the Thai girl job as a massure lady that does to many man customers and because of ego & jealousy he then had assesive thoughts & unwanted imaginations that had given him restless nights & losing appetite. He didn’t know it was OCD then and thought it was just depression, due to the suffer he consult doctor and got to know been diagnosed with OCD. So he constantly had multiple unwanted images looping in his mind & even voices when he’s eating. When I got to know he had OCD I did many research online about the symptoms & illness and find ways to help him. Even asked from friends recommendation on any doctors. He was touched by my concern & effort then one fine day he confessed to me about him got to know of the Thai girl & had fallen for her, because of ego & jealousy in him, he soon developed all kinds of images about this girl massaging all kinds of man. He feel the hurt so much & pain due to his brain haven’t been resting…at certain point he felt of committing suicide.
I was truly sad when I got to know the true story..but I love my husband very much & I want to help him recover to what he is before, happy life. Since the day he confessed to me..he had stop seeing the Thai girl until now has been a month but he still feel the miss very much & the images is still with him. He is really suffering now & wanted to get rid of all the images in his brain & voices. He can’t hold on to it any longer he said he’s afraid he’ll soon die. Everytime when he try to eat anything there’s a voices telling him that its sperm and its rubbish. He feel meaningless and he can’t enjoy his meals. He had lost 6kg in a month.
Hi Cathryn, your husband may be interested in the unwanted thoughts article. It gives all the details about what he needs to do:
Thanks mike… My husband seem to be able to control the looping images in his brain right now by not analysing or focusing on it, the image still remains at his left brain with a blurry blue or black image.
The issue he is having now is he has repeating words (same word) uncontrollable in his brain & keeps repeating until he feels very annoyed & unbearable. He wants to know what is the most effective ways to eliminate repeating words in his brain so he can be at focus in things that he’s doing?
Appreciate your advice soonest possible. I need to help him.
Hi Cat, well, as well as the methods in the “unwanted thoughts” article, he needs to address the lifestyle factors that affect brain chemistry — everything affects everything else. The best thing he can do right now is read Happy Guide. It only takes an hour to read. It will give him the right mindset and shows the 6 powerful habits that act together to make sure he is physically, mentally and emotionally in top form. In the moment, he should always continue to not care about unwanted thoughts and remove attention from them. But he should also correct all lifestyle factors that may be creating a dysfunctional brain chemistry.