3 steps to curing harm OCD

© Rene Asmussen
© Rene Asmussen

Step 1)   Understand what happened

In our natural environment we faced real dangers, such as lions. The instinct to harm here is obvious — part of the “fight or flight” response. You either fight the danger or run away.

In our modern environment, we can still very easily feel stressed and “under attack,” even if it’s not in the literal sense of the word. And so, when this primitive mechanism is triggered, suddenly you have these thoughts, or instincts, to harm someone — even someone you love. Continue reading

Does social media make us happier?

Dee asks…

“Does social media make us happier? I’m wondering if deleting my social media accounts would help with OCD and anxiety.”

© Tom Bream
© Tom Bream

Ask yourself: “Does social media move me towards or away from health and peace of mind?” (the big causes of happiness).

If social media is a distraction, a stress, if time runs away from you and you keep missing your morning smoothies or your lunch salad, then it’s a problem.

If your Facebook time is “in its place,” if you can sign in for say 10 minutes once or twice a day, and you love interacting with your friends, then it’s a nice, positive thing.

Social media is certainly not needed for health and peace of mind, that’s for sure. But that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily a problem either.

Generally speaking, it’s better to simplify your life. Removing anything extra or unnecessary is generally a good idea — certainly until you feel on top of things and back in control.

The most important thing is to focus on the book — all of it. It all matters and everything affects everything else. When you put it into practice you will feel good for no reason.

If you’re not sure there’s “room” for social media then just drop if for now. Make health and peace of mind your top priority. Get on top, feel good first, then see what you do.

Oh and there’s no need to actually delete your accounts of course, just stop using them. :-)

Best wishes,
James

Trauma Release Exercises (TRE) and Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT)

Lizelle asks…

“What are your thoughts on trauma release exercises (TRE)? Have you done them? Apparently our bodies hold trauma even from years ago, which puts a person in a constant flight/fight/freeze state, always very alert and sensing ‘danger.’ With TRE the body releases the energy held up in it from trauma. Would love to hear your thoughts on it.”

I haven’t done any of those exercises myself, but I’ve heard a few health teachers talk highly of Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), tapping certain points on the body to release old emotional stuff.

From my own experience, meditation, mindfulness, the right diet, sleep etc. are all that is needed.

Traumatic events can certainly have powerful spin offs and we hold the sense of danger to prevent repeats, quite naturally. I do think there is great value in thinking about what you fear in a way that allows you to really let it go, to see it has no value to keep looking for it.

In other words, use intelligence to trump the lizard brain. These mechanisms are good for preventing say repeat lion attacks, back when our ancestors evolved in nature, but the same mechanisms can be dysfunctional in modern life.  Continue reading

Should I listen to music while meditating?

Dee asks…

“I am a music lover. I was curious if you think it is acceptable to have instrumental music playing in the background while meditating.

I find listening to world music such as Indian relaxation music and things of that sort tend to relax me. Should I meditate only in silence, or can I have instrumental as well?”

© Fernando Butcher
© Fernando Butcher

Listening to music is certainly an enjoyable, relaxing thing to do. People use it a lot to shut the mind up — it works. But it’s not so effective at generating awareness, which is what meditation is all about.

We want to be noticing thoughts pop, and have our attention in the space that thoughts happen. That is what calms the mind over time, and allows us to think on purpose again.  Continue reading

Scared of losing my partner

Dee asks…

“I see a long future with my boyfriend. I want to marry this man, but then I get these unwanted thoughts saying you don’t love him blah blah, then boom — instant anxiety and I feel sick and nauseous.

I don’t understand what’s happening. It’s breaking my heart because I don’t ever want to leave him or him leave me because it would be awful! I just want to be happy.

It comes out of nowhere like I’ll be having a great time and then bam, these little thoughts pop up and it’s killing me inside. I’m crying writing this and want these terrible thoughts to go away. I HATE THEM!

He’s the best man I’ve ever had and don’t want to lose him. I’m so scared of these thoughts. Now they’re constant. I have no idea why they started but the thought of losing him and not having him with me or by my side through life shatters me. I want them to go away so badly.”

Mind power

You cannot tell your mind not to think about something. If I tell you not to think of a pink elephant, it’s the first thing that pops into your mind. :-)

© Makena Zayle Gadient
© Makena Zayle Gadient

So something either has your attention or it doesn’t. If you don’t want a thought/idea to be part of your world, the only way to achieve that is by ignoring it / not caring about it.

This is what communicates to your mind that the thought is unimportant, irrelevant and meaningless.

HATE and FEAR are the opposite of not caring / ignoring.

By reacting to these thoughts with these emotions you are sending a very clear message to your mind that they are important, relevant and meaningful. That’s why they keep popping up more frequently, and with more intensity.

It’s your reaction to these ideas that’s key. It’s the equivalent of encountering a lion and then wondering why thoughts about the scary lion encounter keep popping into your head.  Continue reading

What’s the difference between the conscious and subconscious mind?

Randi asks…

“Is it the subconscious/unconscious mind that generates thoughts, which are then popped into our conscious mind for us to become aware of? Just want to fully understand how the mind works.”

Your conscious mind is like a fairly narrow spotlight. It’s bright and clear but can pretty much only focus on one thing at a time. As you use this “spotlight,” you’re feeding that information to your subconscious mind, all the time.

So you could be thinking “I need to buy more bananas,” “I need to pick up Johnny from soccer practice,” or “The world is a terrible place”… all this information is processed, sorted, matched and organized by your subconscious mind. Continue reading

How to cope with bereavement

Sinead asks…

Do you have any advice on bereavement?

Tips

  • Be present. “Witness” your thoughts and emotions. Grief, anger, fear… whatever it is, just watch. This brings light (awareness) to everything and stops you becoming it.
  • Remove attention to get relief from the feeling of loss. Focus completely on whatever you’re currently doing. Lose yourself in a movie or book.
  • Be ok with feeling ok. Don’t feel guilty about feeling better or having periods of “normality” while grieving. It doesn’t mean you didn’t love the person. It just means you’re choosing the focus of your attention.
  • Minimize thinking. Now is not a good time for active thinking. Give yourself the time and space to let everything settle down. Delay important decisions until you’re feeling better.
  • Help others with their grief. Being a rock for them means staying alert and present. In that state, you are much less likely to get lost in emotion yourself. Be spacious and loving and you will find your own grief easier to bear.
  • Appreciate your time together. If you’d like to think about the person, focus on their life and the relationship you enjoyed with them. They wouldn’t want you to be sad.
  • Take care of yourself. It’s easy to get into unhealthy habits during a period of mourning. Try to maintain a healthy lifestyle as much as you can.

Best wishes,
Michael Kinnaird

I feel burnt out and zoned out

Ian asks…

I am CEO of a company and my life has been great — focus minded, career tracked and stress free (good stress only).

But a few months ago I had an anxiety attack (heart palpitations and faint feeling). I had a huge number of tests and was diagnosed with adrenal exhaustion. I also felt hyper sensitive and hyper aware, and my thinking patterns changed.

Then I began experiencing deep sadness, a feeling that time is passing me by and insomnia. I am now also experiencing a sort of ‘derealization’ like I am zoned out and losing touch with reality. I have an emotional numbness… even my family are starting to feel like strangers to me. Please help.

© Daniel Horacio Agostini
© Daniel Horacio Agostini

Everything you’ve described tells me that you’re experiencing burn out. Our vitality can trick us into thinking that what we’re currently doing is fine.

With health, there is usually no immediate cause and effect. We can run on adrenaline, drawing on our “base” vitality for a long time, years even.

But eventually you’ll get a sign, a message from your body that you can’t keep doing what you’re doing. In your case, it was an anxiety attack and the discovery that you were experiencing adrenal exhaustion.

You can have all the tests in the world but I can tell you with 100% certainty that there’s only one true cure: to correct your lifestyle. This is the only way to take the pressure off your mind and body, and experience health and vitality in the long-term.  Continue reading