Several members commented that what I wrote about urgency last week was helpful. Great! Let’s turn that into a game!
Anxiety makes everything feel urgent. Just because your sensations and thoughts make your content feel urgent and important doesn’t mean it is urgent or important. Training yourself to slow down when you feel urgent across all aspects of your life will help you relate more effectively to anxious content of all forms.
Thus, our first Member Challenge!
For the next 15 days, I challenge you to notice urgency twice per day and actively slow yourself down.
Specifically, when you feel urgency, set an alarm on your phone for five minutes, and refrain from whatever the urgency is telling you to do for those five minutes. Here are some examples:
- I have the urge to recheck my email. Five minute timer! ⏳
- I have the urge to check my memory. Five minute timer! ⏳
- I have the urge to wash my hands again. Five minute timer! ⏳
- I have the urge to check my social media. Five minute timer! ⏳
- I have the urge to get reassurance. Five minute timer! ⏳
- I have the urge to reread what I just read. Five minute timer! ⏳
- I have the urge to check my dating apps. Five minute timer! ⏳
- I have the urge to Google something I am worried about. Five minute timer! ⏳
- I have the urge to check my door, stove, appliances, etc. Five minute timer! ⏳
- I have the urge to rewind what I was just listening to. Five minute timer! ⏳
- I have the urge to check Slack. Five minute timer! ⏳
To complete the challenge, set a timer and delay your urgent action until the timer is up twice per day for 15 days (or 30 times).
If you complete this challenge, attend Community Time on Monday, April 29, and report what you learned, I will give you $10 off your membership next month.
If you only see me individually, you can also earn $10 off one session, if you complete the challenge and attend Community Time to discuss it.
What do I do while I’m waiting for the timer? Great question! Choose your adventure! The key to this experiment is to refrain from what your anxiety wants you to do during that time. You can do anything else other than what your anxiety says. Here are some ideas:
- Don’t do anything. Just sit there.
- Count the ceiling tiles above you.
- Update your calendar with your friends’ birthdays.
- Observe yourself breathing (not too purposefully though).
- Write out your name in bubble letters and color it in.
- Spin around in your chair.
- Write a poem.
Here’s a poem I wrote:
My OCD is playing unfair.
I’m having a thought.
Not fighting a bear.
Remember that you are always trying to do what your anxiety doesn’t want you to do. The above ideas will likely be anxiety-provoking if your anxiety is saying that you need to do something productive, urgently. If your anxiety wants you to distract yourself, then you should do the opposite of whatever is distracting for you. This can be confusing and we can discuss more in Community Time and Group.
If we, as a community, like doing these types of challenges, we can keep thinking of new ones!
What we learned this week
- Peter Pan OCD is when your mind tells you that you are making up your suffering. (Shout out to Wednesday morning group for this concept.) It’s very hard to surrender to uncertainty when you think that you made up the uncertainty and judge yourself for having it. Try labeling it humorously and acting as though you didn’t make it up, even if you aren’t sure.
- Longing for attention, worthiness, respect, safety, and love is normal.When you notice anxiety and urgency around dating apps, dates, and texting, try slowing yourself down to check in with yourself about what needs you might be longing to meet. If you accept and allow those feelings without adding shame and judgement, it will be easier to slow down and act according to your values in intimate relationships.
- Your children will have intrusive thoughts. Everyone has intrusive thoughts. Given that anxiety sensitivity is hereditary, there is a very good chance that your children will have thoughts they don’t like and feel afraid of them. You have a huge opportunity as a parent when your child tells you that she had a scary thought. Your response is, “Congratulations! You are growing up and thinking like an adult. Adults have all kinds of thoughts. Some of them are silly and some of them are scary. It’s okay for you to have thoughts like that and it’s okay for you to let it go.” If you already have children and they have anxiety or intrusive thoughts, check out Anxious Kids, Anxious Parents.
- When your mind fears that your sensations are going to kill you, have you tried trying to die? (Thanks to Friday afternoon group for this one.) Without holding your breath or doing anything else with your arms or legs, just think really, really hard about dying and see if you die.