Fill out this form to sign up for my newsletter!

An OCD Crash Course

When you’re struggling with OCD, your experience probably falls somewhere on the spectrum from uncomfortable to terrifying.  You may have bizarre or frightening thoughts. You may believe that because you had a thought, it reflects reality.  Or you may have assumed that you need to act on everything that your brain tells you to do.

You may have thought to yourself, I wish someone would save me from my mind!

An OCD Crash Course

OCD makes commonplace activities an uphill climb; doing mundane things can often be paradoxically challenging for people with OCD. At its worst, OCD keeps people in a suspended in a state of electrified worry, feeling hunted by problems or threatening situations that may not even be real (that usually, overwhelmingly, are not real). OCD holds people back from living their lives. OCD has been known to ruin many a Saturday.

What is OCD?

In short, OCD is disturbing thoughts or uncomfortable physical sensations (obsessions).  People with OCD often do things to try to make themselves more comfortable after they have an obsessive thought, like wash their hands or check things (compulsions).

The obsession is the thought or sensation.  The compulsion is the activity performed in an effort to make the obsession go away or disprove the obsession.  Usually, a compulsion provides momentary relief, and then adds fuel to the fire.

Obsession + compulsion= obsessive compulsive disorder.

The Wiring Behind OCD

OCD is the brain’s error and danger detection center (the amygdala) sending out messages that there is a problem, when there is no problem.  The amygdala is the size and shape of two almonds and is nestled deep in the core of the brain.

Someone with OCD processes these error-and-danger messages and does something in response to the perception that there is danger.

This creates a circuit.  After someone with OCD takes action in response to the perceived threat coming from the amygdala and performs a compulsive ritual, the amygdala receives validation that there was indeed a threat, because the person with OCD did something in response to the error message.  The amygdala receives confirmation that its alarm bells will be listened to and acted on, and it learns to send more of them.

Brain scans of people with OCD are really interesting.  The amygdala “glows” from substantially higher than average activity.  The frontal lobe of the brain, which controls judgment and focus, is also substantially overactive. This is because after the amygdala sends out an error message, the frontal lobe decides there is a problem, and then devotes attention to it. People with OCD tend to focus disproportionately on perceived problems (“Did I leave a candle burning?” or “Did my boss scowl at me earlier? Oh my God, did she?”); hence, the frontal lobe also appears to glow in brain scans.

This heightened brain activity explains why some people with OCD perceive that there is conflict around them when there isn’t any; or that their world is dark, unfriendly, or even menacing.  The part of the brain in charge of detecting when there is an emergency or problem is sounding, for no real reason, without warning.

All those fears, phobias, aversions, and obsessions: all it is, is faulty wiring.


That’s the good news: it’s just faulty wiring.

There is comfort in understanding the brain science behind OCD. If you grasp that the thoughts, fears, and physical sensations you have are just sections of your brain misbehaving, the thoughts, fears, and physical sensations you have may seem less intimidating.

There’s more comforting news: you can rewire your brain. That’s how people with OCD get better. The same worry circuit that is activated when you act on an obsessive thought can be powered down by learning how to react to your thoughts and continuing to life your life, even when you feel anxious.

Sound confusing? Don’t worry: read my illustrated guide on how to keep living your life when you’re experiencing an OCD storm.  Or, contact me to learn more about my Glowing OCD Brain training.

How to Handle Intrusive Thoughts

Most people, whether they have OCD or not, have experienced intrusive thoughts at some point.  Intrusive thoughts are the thoughts that “snag” in your brain and won’t go away.  When you finally shift your focus to something else, the thoughts periodically pop back. If you push the thoughts away, they may pop back faster. You feel hunted. But if you know how to handle intrusive thoughts, it’s like having a secret superpower.

The best way to deal with intrusive thoughts is to not push them away, but rather to react to them as if you are totally unphased. Acting like you don’t care about these electrified thoughts powers them down.  Again, most people have had the experience of being stuck on a thought, sleeping on it, and then in the morning, once they have some distance, thinking: “Wow, that thing that I was so worried about was really irrational.”

But what to do if you wake up in the morning and the thought is still there?

Invite the thought to stay awhile.

Having an intrusive thought that won’t go away and survives a good night’s sleep is unnerving. It makes you wonder if the thought is real. (It’s still not).  The way to deal with an intrusive thought that is sticking around is simply a more involved version of how you would deal with any other intrusive thought. Accept that you’re having the intrusive thought. Let it hang out in your peripheral vision. It may feel uncomfortable, but just let it be.

You can try a few different visualizations:

Invite the worry to exist in your peripheral vision.  Imagine the worry pedaling away on a stationary bicycle.  It’s planted there, and it can pedal and sweat all it wants. Eventually, it will get tired.

Here’s another approach. Imagine you have someone in your social circle who you’re sort of friends with, who is also really annoying and overcaffeinated and clingy. Imagine that this person has shown up unannounced on your doorstep. This person is ringing your doorbell incessantly; she knows you’re home! If you try to ignore her, odds are good she is going to keep ringing the doorbell. She may start texting you or calling you. And you feel violated: why is she at your house, refusing to leave you alone when you clearly don’t want her there?  But imagine if you went downstairs and greeted her. “Oh, hey, come on in. I’m pretty busy right now, but if you want, you can sit on the couch and read a magazine.”  That pesky friend is going to be disappointed.  Odds are good, she’ll sit on your couch, leaf through a magazine, talk for awhile (and be ignored), and get bored quickly. Maybe this person will think twice about showing up unannounced again.

If this exercise sounds hard, that’s because it is hard. When you have an unsettling, intrusive thought, getting through the moment or the day is hard enough. If you use coping mechanisms to unplug the thought and teach your brain a new way to react to OCD thoughts, it’s like going to the mental gym. You’re strengthening a muscle.  You’re retraining your brain.  In fact, you are rewiring your brain.  When practiced over time, your brain is unphased by intrusive thoughts.  A year from now, a thought that could bring you to your knees might just feel like a cold breeze.

This work is hard and it’s so worth it.

If you are currently struggling, I recommend you check out my illustrated guide on how to handle an OCD storm.  If you’re interested in working one-on-one with me to learn OCD coping skills and how to live with your glowing OCD brain, you can read about coaching with me here.

OCD for Beginners: 8 Tips for Early OCD Recovery

When people learn they have OCD, what’s commonly the most surprising–and most gutting–things to find out in OCD recovery is that  OCD doesn’t go away. It’s true: OCD doesn’t get better; you get better at having OCD.  Once you develop the skills and tools to manage the way your OCD manifests, you use those skills without thinking about it much; the thoughts and fears that were once crippling aren’t even that noticeable.  What used to be an OCD storm is now a wisp.

Initially, people early in OCD recovery have an initial gritty determination to “beat OCD.” This never works.  Approaching OCD as an adversary usually leads to suffering.  There’s an acceptance step that is crucial in early OCD recovery. No one wants to have OCD. (Of course not!) But when you accept that you have OCD, you create space to be curious. You can learn how to manage your OCD and how to engage with your OCD thoughts. Eventually, you might look at your OCD recovery like an achievement: “I do all of these things in my busy, full life and I do it all with OCD.”  You’ll be happy and healthy, and OCD is simply part of your lifestyle.

When you have OCD, you always have to keep working at it and building your skills. The goal is to “get good at having OCD.” This takes ongoing practice. I have eight strategies/ mantras that I teach people with OCD to help them learn to live with OCD. These steps are quirky, but they really work. These are the basics that I wish I had known when I was first diagnosed. I affectionately call this list, OCD for Beginners.


  1. “This is just my amygdala.”

When you are suddenly hit by a wave of anxiety or a disconcerting thought, you can say to yourself, This is just my brain.

Sometimes, organs malfunction. See if you can look at OCD like a stomach ache; it’s something array happening in your brain. There’s no reason to panic; you can just say, “Ugh, my head hurts,” as casually as you might say, “Ugh, my stomach hurts.”

At the most basic level, OCD is your amygdala, the section of the brain that detects danger and error, malfunctioning. Your amygdala is telling you that there is danger or error when there is no danger or error. The warning sirens can be summarily ignored. The worry or sense of impending doom is just your brain misfiring. The worry—and the content of the worry—is totally irrelevant. What matters is how you react; the way you behave when you have an OCD thought teaches your brain how to react in the future. 99% of the time, the best thing to do is going back to whatever it is you were doing, and letting the thought hang out in your peripheral vision.


  1. “Okay, so I’m having that thought.”

When you have intrusive thoughts, acknowledge them and accept that they’re there. Don’t push the thoughts away—that makes them swing back like a wrecking ball. Instead, say, “Okay, so I’m having that thought.” It’s just a thought. We all have tons of thoughts, and we can choose which ones to focus on and engage with.  You don’t have to engage with the thought; just let the thought be like an out of control toddler who thankfully isn’t your problem.  If the thought feels really menacing, do your best to practice good self care as you let the thought dart around.


  1. “Don’t start.”

When you try to mentally resolve or disprove an OCD worry, the problem will dependably pop back up with an extenuating circumstance that keeps it relevant. Or, your brain may snag on new worries all day. This is especially true if you start “arguing” with OCD in the morning. It’s better to “not start” and to settle into feeling a little uncomfortable. Don’t start, and let the thought fade.


  1. “Okay, so I feel really anxious.”

When you feel gripped by an obsession or a worry, if all else fails, lean into it. Accept that you’re anxious.  People who have OCD often have days when they feel anxious. You want to practice living your life, even when you’re anxious. Sometimes this approach makes the discomfort dissipate faster. More importantly, it creates wiring in your brain so you can dismiss irrational thoughts and train your focus on whatever it is you want to be doing.


  1. “I guess I’ll just ride this out.”

The comedian Marc Maron has a joke where he describes how he once ate too much Chinese food and his hand went numb. Because he had “drug wisdom” as a recovered cocaine addict, he said, “I’m just gonna ride it out.” That nonplussed attitude can be useful in hanging on during an especially anxious day. It’s powerful when you can say, “Eh, I guess I’ll just ride this one out.”  At the end of the day, double down on the self care or do something that tends to help you reset back to normal.


  1. “If it happens, I’ll deal with it.”  

The best way to defang a fear is to accept that it could happen. Accept that if the worst case scenario did happen, you’d deal with it.  Whatever it is, you’d deal with it.  Sometimes, this radical approach can shock your brain into realizing how nonsensical something is.  Alternatively, this “I’m done worrying about this. Whatever happens, happens” is a very healthy form of surrender.


  1. “This is actually really funny.”

If you have an obsession—whether it’s a new one, or one that has bothered you for years—imagine sitting across from your most level-headed, no-nonsense friend, and explaining the obsession to them. Perhaps you’d see that the thought that can overwhelm and terrify you on bad days… is actually so ridiculous, that it’s actually really funny.  Or it’s so petty, it’s not worth one more iota of your mental energy.  *To be clear, this doesn’t mean deciding that you are going to avoid the thought; it means that you’re doing to avoid actively thinking about it.  You can have the thought, but there’s no need to engage with it, disagree with it, or try to reason it away.  It’s not worth your mental energy… just let the thought dissipate.


  1. “99 Problems.”

I know a woman with OCD who is really, really good at living with OCD.  She has a family and a job, and she balances her day-to-day responsibilities with putting daily effort into managing her OCD.   She was diagnosed with OCD almost 10 years ago; she had developed a chronic, frightening obsession so extreme, it required restraint not to ask her about the sordid details of her dark days.  The way her OCD manifested years earlier was extremely morbid.

Today, her take on OCD recovery is extremely empowering: “We all have 99 problems, and I prefer having this one. Because I have the ability to manage it.”

Self-Talk: What stories are you telling yourself?

We all tell ourselves stories about ourselves. Unfortunately, much of the time, these stories don’t make our lives bigger or better. Sometimes our stories limit us in small ways (“I don’t eat Indian food” or “I’m not the kind of person who goes hiking for fun”). Other stories act as a lens through which we see the world (“I never should have left Los Angeles and given up on acting” or “I don’t know what I’m passionate about and it’s driving me insane!”).  These stories–often very similar to limiting self-talk–influence our lives to an extent beyond imagination.

Here’s a sampling from some people I’ve talked to:

I’m a city person; I couldn’t live anywhere but a large city. I actually don’t think I could live anywhere but New York!  I’m going to be  a director. I’m an artist. I’m an entrepreneur. I like asking for things. Netflix is my boyfriend. I have low self-esteem. I don’t like going to classes at the gym; it’s one more thing to be late for. I’m a morning person. I’m a night owl. I’m not the kind of person who goes to India.

I dated my soulmate two years ago, but I screwed everything up. I don’t think I’ll ever feel that way about anyone again. I don’t know what my passion is and it’s driving me crazy. Everyone else seems to have a calling.  I have to get married by the time I’m thirty. I am so behind the people I went to high school with. If I’m not interested in a task, I’m incapable of doing it.

I’m annoying. I’m a bitch. I’m a failure. I’m a screw-up. I am not living the kind of life I planned on. If I had the opportunity to go back in time, I would do so many things differently. • Everyone acts like I have so much agency in my life. I don’t feel free at all. • I suck at life. I fully suck. I’m such a fuck-up. •

We frequently tell stories about ourselves that serve as the “elevator pitch” that we repeat to ourselves, about ourselves.  We all have a self-concept, and it becomes the lens through which we see the world. That story can be positive (“I’m a graphic designer in Boston. I’m known for wearing bright colors”) or glass-half empty (“I live in Boston. I left a corporate job to become a full-time freelance web designer. You wouldn’t believe how little money I make”). These stories—even if we don’t often consciously think about them—can greatly affect the way we see the world around us.  It could be a difference as drastic as living in full color or seeing the world in sepia. When the story you tell yourself about yourself is negative, it’s bigger than limiting self-talk; it can become your worldview.

Everyone can benefit from being more aware of their self-talk and examining the stories they tell. For people with anxiety and OCD, it’s especially important to be conscious of your self-talk and to be aware of your “story.” People who struggle with obsessive thinking often have the tendency to get “stuck” on a thought that they believe to be true. If that thought is your story, you’re going to be repeating it to yourself a lot.  It’s in your best interest to make sure it’s a true story, and a good one.




This is what’s game changing.

It is entirely possible to change your story. In writing a new story, we can design the way we want to show up in the world. This includes, but is not limited to: how we want to feel, how we want to make others feel, how we express our talents, and how we experience our own company. We can change the flavor of our self-talk. When we do so, we interact with ourselves in new ways: we experience more self-compassion, we learn to soothe ourselves, and we act with greater self-efficacy.

Here’s a starting point to do some brainstorming:

What is a story that’s problematic in my life right now?

When and where did I get this story?

Was it true then? Is true now?

Why am I holding on to this story?

Am I willing to trade this story for something better?

A Metaphor for OCD Recovery

Many of us can remember the sense of shock we felt when we learned Bruce Willis was dead at the end of the Sixth Sense(Andy Samberg remembers. Google it. 😉 ) The end of the Sixth Sense is also a great metaphor for OCD recovery.

Sixth Sense

Throughout the movie, Haley Joel Osment was hunted by visions of “dead people” that only he could see. He was tormented.

In the end of the movie, nothing really changed.  That kid still saw dead people.  The only difference was that he reacted to them or interacted with them differently. In some cases, he quietly helped the dead people.  In other cases, he just acknowledged that they were there, and that was enough for everyone to have some peace.

For a person who is struggling with OCD, it’s pretty similar. You see envision things that feel very real and menacing. Others can’t see what you see, although they feel for you if you tell them. (Sometimes, they’re quietly horrified if you tell them what you’re thinking or feeling!) Still, you cannot do anything to placate or push away the visions you have.  Trying to make them go away irritates them and makes them stronger.

When your goal is OCD recovery, your job is to “be okay” with whatever visions you are having.  Being able to say, “Okay, so I’m having that thought” or “Okay, so I’m having this sensation” to whatever OCD thoughts you are having is courageous. It’s courageous to the extent of facing down ghosts.

Of course, this approach to OCD recovery is really challenging, but it yields lasting dividends. This laissez approach rewires your brain in a positive way.  When you don’t react to your frightening OCD thoughts, your brain receives no validation for sending you those thoughts–your brain learns that this information is ignored. So with enough repetition, your brain will send fewer erroneous warnings about danger (which is just OCD at work).

Can you be at relative ease with the thoughts and visions that you have?

Keep Calm and Carry On

I have an article in Fast Company today on how leaders and entrepreneurs with OCD can leverage their coping skills to thrive in their careers. In researching and writing the article, I learned a fascinating story about the origin of one of my favorite quotes: “Keep Calm and Carry On.”


Winston Churchill was prime minster of the United Kingdom during World War II. The mantra the government encouraged British citizens to bear in mind during an era of air raids was, “Keep Calm and Carry On.” Says leadership coach Kelly Ebner, “That seems like Churchill’s self-talk to me.”

I made the argument that for people with OCD, “Keep calm and carry on” can be the foundation of a thriving lifestyle, where OCD is simply a nuisance guest at the party.

Please do check out the article and share on social media!

What to Do When You’re Having a Freak Out


One major challenge of living with OCD is that you feel like there is a serious threat or a huge, major problem… when you intellectually know there isn’t one. Call it an OCD storm, a freak out, a tizzy, whatever. You know there is not actually a time-sensitive crisis, but you want to feel better now, so you’re thinking yourself in circles.

This disjuncture is maddening. You know there isn’t an issue, but it really, really feels like there is one.  And damnit, it’s Saturday! This is not a good day to have a freak out!

Here’s how to calm down and talk to your brain:

1. Establish that this is just OCD.

You know you have OCD.  You know that OCD is basically neurological malfunctioning.  The danger detection center of your brain says, “There’s a PROBLEM!” when there is no problem. Except right now, the problem feels so big and so dark, it’s like the last twenty minutes of a Harry Potter movie.

Take a step back and establish that this is OCD, and this might as well be a scary movie. Or a really dark children’s movie.

2. Pick a mantra.

You know that you don’t want to push away your thoughts.  That tends to make intrusive thoughts bigger. But you also don’t want to engage your thoughts or debate with them or invite them in for coffee. Articulate to yourself: “This is just OCD. This problem doesn’t justify a response. No action is needed on my part. I am going to go about my day.”  When intrusive thoughts pop up, nod at them, and use a mantra: “Okay, but no action is required on my part” or “Okay, but I’m just going about my day today.”  Accept the thoughts—don’t push them away—and then go about your day.

3. Do something really different.

Now it’s time to refocus.  If you have already started to freak out, you want to do something to reset your head.  So do something a little unusual.  Watch YouTube videos of reporters getting into laughing fits on air. Watch clips of your favorite standup comedian on YouTube. Think of one of your favorite songs that has unclear lyrics, look up the lyrics, and listen to the song and read along. Make a list of 10 things you’re grateful for.  Make a list of your top 10 favorite moments from your life.  If you’re out and about, give strangers compliments on their clothes.  See how many dogs you can pet in fifteen minutes.  (This alone–petting dogs for fifteen minutes– could mean freak out = averted)

Do something positive to change the channel.

4. Don’t Google the problem.

No matter how much you want to Google, for reassurance or for comfort, please don’t Google. Don’t give the “problem” another ounce of your energy.  If you can, close your laptop and do something else. If you don’t have plans for the day, make some. (And stick to them!)

5. Reach for support.

Usually, it’s best not to look to friends and family for reassurance around an OCD problem. Having someone else tell you it’s going to be okay means that you lose a teaching opportunity for your brain.  Each OCD thought or each OCD storm is an opportunity to teach your brain how to respond to anxiety, obsessive thoughts, or panic; knowing how to respond effectively and cope will in your brain’s muscle memory.

But, sometimes it’s okay to phone a friend.  It’s ideal to have a friend who knows you have OCD, who is happy to be part of your support system, who is cool with just listening and not trying to offer advice or solve the problem for you.  (If you don’t have a person like this in your life, ask someone!)

If you need to phone a friend, here’s a helpful sample script.

“Hi, do you have a second?… Okay, I’m having a freak out and I just need to sound something out with you…. It feels like I have a massive, urgent problem. But I know that there is no crisis.  It’s just my brain.  So as I have these thoughts, all day I’m going to say to myself, ‘Okay, okay, I hear you. It feels like there’s a catastrophe going on right now, but there’s nothing I need to do or think about today…’”

By stating aloud your gameplan to another person, it’s easier to hold yourself accountable.  It’s so easy to give in to a freak out–to spend the day thinking yourself in circles or to look to an unhealthy coping mechanism (like overeating or binge drinking) to take you out of the game for the day. But if you phone a friend and state your plan for the day–to be present, to say “Okay, so I’m having that thought,” or to just ride it out–you’re accountable for how you’re going to take care of yourself that day.  To take a freak out and turn it into, of all things, a mastery experience, is something to be really proud of.

Anxiety Strategy: “I’m Just Gonna Ride It Out”

I recently got hooked on comedian Marc Maron. Marc Maron has a huge body of work: you can listen to his CDs on Spotify, his standup clips on YouTube, his guest appearances on Conan and the Late Show and his popular WTF with Marc Maron podcast. Maron has major anxiety… and he’s not afraid to talk about it.

Marc MaronMarc Maron carries around his emotional baggage like a celebrity holds on to her oversized handbag. He is a recovered drug addict and alcoholic: he was addicted to cocaine when he was in his 20s, trying to break into comedy in Boston and New York. Today, he’s sober, and an Olympic-level overthinker.  He describes the struggle of being too inside your own head as “thinky pain.”

Thus, it’s almost appropriate that the punchline from one of his more popular jokes could be used as a mantra to weather through OCD and anxiety storms.

Marc Maron tells a story that he recently ate way too much Chinese food, and his hand went numb. But because of his years of experience doing drugs, he didn’t panic. He just thought to himself,

“I guess I’m just gonna ride this out…”

When you’re gripped by an irrational fear or you’re in an extended state of panic, you may experience that when you analyze the problem and look for reasons why the catastrophe in mind won’t happen, the more you can feel your brain knotting tighter and tighter. OCD doesn’t respond to logic. You can’t rationalize your way out when the whole storm was caused by an irrational thought.  It’s better to just surrender to having a storm.



You can listen to Marc Maron on YouTube; his “Drug Wisdom” bit starts at 3:24.

An OCD-Heavy Day

It’s very normal for people with back pain to have some days where they feel practically limber and other days when their chronic pain is much more severe.  For migraine sufferers, sometimes they have a day–or a long stretch of days–with no migraines. And other days, they have migraines that knock them off their feet.  People with depression can have great days where the blue sky looks clear and gorgeous and all feels well in the world. And they can also experience days where they have no idea how to muster the energy, enthusiasm, or life force to pick up the takeout they just ordered. And it’s the same deal with OCD.

Whether you’re new to managing your obsessive-compulsive disorder or you’re an obsessive-compulsive disorder veteran, it’s normal to experience your symptoms to varying degrees on different days. Some days, your usual triggers may occur and you react to them as you usually do.

DentistOther days, your brain feels like it’s full of knives.  In the span of three hours, you may experience a trigger, get “stuck” on a thought, experience a steady sequence of irrational worries, and then have an intrusive thought that really disturbs you and pops into your head every three seconds.

There’s a natural response: Why is this happening to me?!

“David After Dentist,” 2008 YouTube celebrity.

Because it happens, unfortunately.  It’s the same way that people without chronic mood issues can unexplainably have a good day or a crappy day (there’s the adage: “Some days you’re the pigeon, other days you’re the statue” for that one). OCD can vary in intensity from day to day, without any warning.

It’s not a good idea to analyze each obsession that bothers you; instead, try to be as “chill” as possible about it.  Think to yourself, “Okay, so I’m having an OCD-heavy day. This sucks.  Okay, whatever…” If you feel like you are getting pummeled by your thoughts, ready your stance to take the punch so you go down gracefully.  “Fighting back” with OCD thoughts only makes them bigger and more complicated.  But if you can roll your eyes at your OCD thoughts as you go about your Saturday errands, and not feel shaken, you’ve paradoxically won this round. Because when you don’t take action or react to OCD thoughts, you’re actively rewiring the frontal lobe of your brain when your amygdala says there’s a problem.  Over time, this response–non-reaction, over and over again–will heal your OCD.

Naturally, if you sense that you’re having a really intense OCD day because you’re not fully acknowledging that someone is inflamed in your life, then it’s okay to pause and check in with yourself.  If you’ve been really stressed, or you’re avoiding a problem, perhaps that is making your OCD boil over. But usually, that’s not how OCD words.  OCD isn’t logical. OCD isn’t logical, given the way a fully-sane person can stare at an unplugged space heater, pulse racing, and not feel confident that the space heater is off.

It’s better not to look for reasons as to why you’re having a flare-up. It’s better to not validate the part of your brain that arbitrarily pulls the fire alarm.

Go about your day, practice good self care, and take solace that tomorrow will probably be easier. And if it isn’t–you’ll know how to handle it.

Helping Others with OCD

I just published a post over at my personal blog where I announced the work that I am doing to raise awareness about OCD, plus helping others with OCD, by writing, speaking, and coaching.



I shared an example of how a person could choose a new way to react to OCD thoughts. Choosing a new reaction–and a new way to frame your relationship with OCD–is key to befriending your OCD and thriving in life when you have OCD.

…Say that you have OCD and you have a routine for when you leave the house that makes you feel comfortable (checking to make sure the space heater is off, the stove is off, the lights are off, the faucets are not running, etc). But when  on the sidewalk outside your house, you freeze: you’re not feeling confident about that space heater. It could still be on.

Instead of going back inside after you’ve already left the house to double-check that you unplugged the space heater or blew out the candle, you shrug off the fear.  Instead, you say, “Okay, so I may have left the space heater on. I don’t know.  My brain feels really tangled over the issue. Okay! I’m going to go about my day.  I feel super uncomfortable right now, but whatever. I don’t really care.”

….Sometimes something really amazing happens: when you accept that the worst possible thing could happen, the fear often fades. The fear seems less serious, because you took it seriously but didn’t freak out about it or take action. If you have the opportunity to see that what you worried about didn’t occur, it’s awesome: it’s rewarding to see that you took a risk, and it paid off.  The whole fearful episode was just the error-and-danger detection center of your brain having a little electric storm.  No cause for concern.

If you do this over and over again, it can rewire your brain…

I advocate a “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” approach to OCD. Personally, I am always going to have OCD. It fully sucks. But because I can’t make my OCD “go away,” I live with it, working to be as happy, as joyful, and as flexible as possible in the process.  When I’m anxious, I say, “Okay, I have OCD, and I feel super anxious right now.” And then I get back to whatever it is that I want to be doing.

Finally, I shared my elevator pitch for my new venture: I want to be helping others with OCD as much as possible.

Glowing Brain Image by Peach and Gold | Designed & Developed with    by