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How to #TakeItBack

By: Shaina Charles

Woohooo! OCD Awareness Week is drawing to a close, and we at OCD North have had a wonderful time getting to educate and advocate for OCD Awareness. This week’s theme was #TakeItBack, a theme that challenges our community to stand up to OCD and take back all the things that OCD took from you.

Even though OCD Awareness Week is over, the #TakeItBack energy doesn’t have to stop! Today, we’re sharing the top three ways to take things back from OCD. Let’s do it!

1. Lean into the uncertainty

We know, we know, you’re probably so tired of hearing this phrase. But we use it so much because it’s super important. If you haven’t heard this phrase yet (don’t worry, that’ll change soon), “leaning in” means to get comfortable with being uncomfortable and uncertain.

OCD is always searching for certainty. OCD wants you to be certain that you didn’t accidentally write something inappropriate in that email, or be certain that you didn’t harm that person, or be certain that you won’t burn the house down… you get the picture. In all that searching for certainty, OCD takes things away from you. OCD takes your ability to be carefree and secure in yourself. It takes away the places you love to go and instead encourages you to avoid things. OCD takes your time and energy.

Leaning into the uncertainty can stop OCD in its tracks. Telling the OCD that you may or may not have done something and that’s okay means that OCD loses the ability to get you to engage in a ritual to try and gain that certainty. You’re already telling OCD that nothing is certain, leaving OCD with no choice but to shut up. When you get comfortable with being uncertain, you take power back from OCD.

2. Acknowledge shame

So you’ve been leaning into the uncertainty. Amazing! But now, OCD has found another sneaky plan of attack – OCD makes you feel shame about what you are experiencing. OCD will make you feel insecure about what you feel and even tell you that you should or shouldn’t be having the experience you are. This could look like telling yourself that you’re okay, even when you feel sad or angry. Or, it could look like using “I should…” or “I shouldn’t…” language towards yourself. It could even look like hiding your experience from the ones you love and isolating yourself.

Identifying shame is vital since it can prevent you from fully leaning into the uncertainty (which is, like, the most important part). Here’s how it works: when you’re harbouring feelings of shame, that shame actually makes you avoid leaning all the way into the uncomfortable and uncertain feelings. You feel like you “should” be feeling better, so even though you’re super upset, you can’t bring yourself to admit it. And *boom* OCD just found a loophole – a place to plant seeds of doubt. Eventually, when those seeds take root, OCD will be trying to convince you to search for certainty there, and – well… we’ve been over this. Certainty is one of our least favourite words around here.

If you want to #TakeItBack from OCD, whatever it is, it’s essential to dismiss that shame as soon as it pops up. Being willing to acknowledge those feelings means that OCD has no place to sneak in – you’re already aware of all the ways you feel uncertain, and you’re willing to lean in. You: 1, OCD: 0 – you’ve just taken power back.

3. Make more time to do the things you love

The logic behind this tip is straightforward – doing more of what you love gives you more opportunities to practice standing up to OCD. Talking about “leaning into the uncertainty” and “addressing shame” is cool and all, but you can’t really do that unless you, you know, do it.

When you take the time to do the things you love – the things that maybe you’re avoiding because OCD has been bullying you – you show OCD who is boss. Even if it’s hard, and you can only last a couple of minutes, you’ve still shown OCD that you’re ready to put up a fight (and we have a pretty good feeling on who’s going to win: you!). We’re firm believers at OCD North that practice makes perfect. So before you know it, that couple of minutes will have turned into a wonderful chunk of time where you are doing the things you love most again. Congratulations, you’ve just #Take(n)ItBack!

The #TakeItBack process won’t always be easy, but it will always be worth it. OCD North is cheering you on along the way. Here’s to beating OCD every single day – #TakeItBack looks good on you.