Written by David H. Rosmarin
Almost all people occasionally experience thoughts that they don’t like. They may not admit it in public, but the fact of the matter is that almost everyone has some odd thoughts that they’d prefer not to have. While most people can just accept these thoughts and move on with life when they occur, some people adopt a “no negative thoughts allowed” policy. At its worst, this can develop into OCD, which involves a phobic response to intrusive, unwanted thoughts.
At it’s core, cognitive behavioral treatment of OCD usually involves bringing on those bad thoughts. Yes, that’s right – we encourage patients to specifically and intentionally experience thoughts they find distasteful and unpleasant. Over time, they realize that a thought is just a thought. This approach yields a powerful spiritual message: Values and behaviors are much more important in life than fleeting, annoying thoughts.
Obsessed about something? Give this a try: Write out in explicit detail what you’re obsessed about. Get all that nastiness out on paper. Then go over it 10 times/day for a week.