Three Strategies to Reduce and Resist Obsessions

By Rachel Lacks, EdM

Do you ever have an itching feeling that you just have to do something, or else the
thought of doing it will haunt you? Do you ever feel the need to re-read a sentence in
your book again, or to go back to re-read a whole paragraph, or a whole page? Have
you looked at the pile of papers on your desk, and felt you just could not begin your
work until they were all nicely stacked? Have you ever left your home, only to feel
an urge to turn back around to check that the stove is off?

While you may feel alone in experiencing a nagging voice inside of your head, these
urges are actually not uncommon. In fact, they plague at least 1 in every 40 adults,
and about 1 in every 100 kids
. These badgering feelings are called obsessions, and
they often lead to compulsive behaviors, which are repetitive behaviors that a
person feels compelled to perform in order to alleviate anxiety. Although obsessions
feel immensely difficult to resist in the moment, there are three strategies that you
can employ to regain control over your mind and your behavior.
[Important note: It’s fine to try these suggestions on your own, but often people
need the support of a therapist to assist.]

  1. Delay the response: Try putting small increments of time between obsessions
    and compulsions. For example if you have a thought, “I should really check that
    the door is locked one more time” try to resist the urge to check that door for a
    few minutes, or even just 30 seconds. Over time, try to increase the increments.
    Think about it like going to the gym for your mind. The longer you’re able to
    delay a response, the better your mind will naturally habituate to the anxiety
    and get used to feeling uncomfortable. Eventually, using this approach, many
    people find that their urges to check the door become so minimal that they go
    away entirely.
  2. Limit the response: Challenge yourself to cut down on the number of times you
    engage in a compulsive behavior. If you feel the need to count each step as you
    walk up the stairs, try counting the first several, and not the rest. Or go several
    steps without counting, and then count he last few. Teaching yourself to tolerate
    the discomfort of resisting is easier in smaller doses.
  3. Check the facts: Think of times in the past when you wanted to act on a
    compulsive urge, and didn’t do it. It may have been when someone else was in
    the room with you, because you would have been late to work, or simply because
    it was too burdensome to perform the ritual. What happened those times? Did
    the worst-case scenario that you’re imagining actually occur? Were you able to
    live with the discomfort you felt in the moment, and did it eventually dissipate?
    Reminding ourselves of times when our worst fears did not come true can help
    us to resist our obsessions when they occur.

In sum, it can be hard to reduce and resist obsessions. But, doing so in smaller
chunks and keeping in mind that the worse case scenario is unlikely, can make
things a lot easier over time. Set manageable expectations and challenge yourself,
and you may be surprised at your own success!

Inspirational Message

The Way of Mastery is to break all the rules—but you have to know them perfectly before you can do this; otherwise you are not in a position to transcend them.


What Clients Say

In a recent survey of our patients, 94% would recommend our practice to a friend.
Calmer in the Face of Hardship
I came to the Center for Anxiety for help in dealing with a family member who suffered from extreme anxiety. But I ended up getting a serious illness two months later and started having my own sessions. With the help of my therapist I got through my illness, learned to understand my habits that were making my major life stresses worse, learned to communicate better, taper my anger, and surprisingly I became more calmer even though my hardships in life worsened. Therapy is a lot of work and not easy, but nothing in life comes easy! I became a better and softer mom and (when I practice what I learned) and my kids and home are calmer and happier. I am still a work in progress and have more to work on, but I know I am on the right path. I wish I knew before how my communication style and anger were really impacting my life, how being softer you can accomplish way more then being harsh. I have been to other therapists in the past and I can hands down say that the Center for Anxiety’s approach is really effective. I have even referred a bunch of people to the Center and they have been really happy with the therapists and how much they really care for their patients.
I Tackled a Long List of Fears
When I first came to the Center for Anxiety, my list of anxieties/fears was long! I was scared of getting sick, getting stranded, driving, flying and more. With the help of my therapist, I immediately got to work and tackled every one of my fears. Now the world is open to me and I feel free! I can dream big and accomplish whatever I set my mind to! I am especially grateful that I was able to do all this without having to rely on medication. It was hard work – grueling at times! – but now I have the coping tools within me for life. In fact a family member recently said to me “You are awesome. You can accomplish anything you set your mind to because you don’t let fear stop you! ” Thank you Dr. Rosmarin and the Center for Anxiety staff for helping me get here. My fears no longer limit me and I love my life. Try it, it might turn your life around too!
Highly Skilled and Professional Treatment
When I sought treatment at the Center for Anxiety, the clinic was is in its incipient stages. However, by the time I successfully finished treatment, the Center for Anxiety grew and flourished into a world-class treatment center, offering cutting-edge, evidence-based treatment to countless individuals. The continued success of the Center for Anxiety comes as no surprise to me, with a team that contains such highly skilled professionals who display clinical acumen, empathy, and compassion. When I first entered treatment I was concerned that therapy would be similar to the experiences with past psychologists: a seemingly bottomless pit with no reductions in my anxiety symptoms, but was so relieved when I started to feel less anxious after only a handful of sessions. My therapist created a treatment plan that was tailored exactly to my needs and taught me practical skills to help me work through my anxiety that I still use and practice to this very day.
No More Panic
When I first came in, I was struggling with panic disorder and didn’t even know it, which only made dealing with it that much more difficult. After my first time sitting down with my therapist, however, I instantly started to gain perspective and look at the difficult situation in a different light. Our meetings helped me conquer the issue step by step and get my life back on track. I’d strongly recommend that anyone dealing with anxiety in a way that impacts their day to day life should visit the Center for Anxiety! I know it helped me tremendously.
Free of Obsessions
When I woke up one morning last June and didn’t want to get out of bed, I knew I needed help. The thought of getting through another day with all my anxieties, obsessions and rituals was just too overwhelming. After feeling stuck for years, I just couldn’t anymore. Thankfully, that’s when I found the Center for Anxiety. Dr. Rosmarin and his staff are experts at what they do, kind and professional. After just several weeks I accomplished my initial targets. The change I experienced in such a short amount of time was astounding that I stayed on for a while longer to work on more complex goals. I soon achieved those too. Now, I am free of my obsessions, know how to manage my anxiety, and love my life. My only regret: not having done this sooner. I wish I had known that you don’t have to wait to hit rock bottom to get help.
Depression Lifted
I’m 26 years old and I’ve been suffering from terrible depression for 7 years. In the throws of my sadness I literally wanted to die. Soon after starting therapy at the Center for Anxiety, my depression lifted. My suicidal thoughts began to dissipate. I remember the feeling that came over me as soon as the dark cloud above me left. It was the most liberating feeling I have ever experienced. I actually shouted to my friends, family and anyone nearby me “I’m Happy! I am Happy!” I felt free.
Over the course of four years I developed anxiety-like symptoms (tightness in chest, gut, back) that slowly but surely increased in duration and severity. The EXTREMELY uncomfortable nature of the symptoms notwithstanding, I still continued and managed to function. The effort required to do so, however, left me utterly drained. Having always been a very spiritual person I strongly felt that a course of therapy incorporating a spiritual component could potentially work well for me and decided to give the Center for Anxiety a try. Happily, I have achieved significant symptom reduction, tremendously improved emotional/mental health, and above all, Connection. Medication free. I’m no longer just existing, I’m LIVING. I’ve been given a second chance to become the unique human being that I was meant to be.
No More worries
I have wormed in healthcare for 36 years in many different settings, and I have been overwhelmingly satisfied with the Center for Anxiety. When staff says they are going to call, I get a call. From the first contact, I have been very impressed with the professionalism and efficiency. I had a situation and needed to have sessions more than once per week, and my clinicians worked out a schedule to accommodate my needs. I was astounded that they attended to me so quickly and effectively - they made my priority their priority. My clinicians were also excellent at what they do - they have a plan for me each session, and it's clear that they have thought in advance about each session, and that they are listening to what I say and observing what I do, even though our sessions have been conducted via Telehealth. Compassion is a quality that I have all too often found to be lacking in my experiences as a healthcare professional and patient, and this is not the case with the Center for Anxiety. Of all the websites I found on Google, I am so thankful that God guided my hand to yours.

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