Caryn Gill, LPC

Embrace the Power of Willingness, Curiosity, and Committed Action: Your Guide to Response Prevention

Today, I want to talk about something super important when it comes to overcoming mental health challenges—whether it’s OCD, anxiety, or any other intrusive thoughts that try to rain on our parade. I’m talking about willingness, curiosity, and committed action!

First things first, let’s talk about willingness. Picture this: you’re faced with those nagging thoughts, the ones that make you doubt everything and create a whole lot of discomfort. But here’s the thing—willingness is all about embracing those thoughts and feelings, instead of pushing them away. It’s like saying, “Hey, I see you. I feel you. And even though this is hard, I can let you be here in this moment.” By accepting and acknowledging these thoughts, you can take control of your response and choose how to respond. Accepting does not mean that you like the thoughts or that they don’t cause discomfort. All it means is that you are not fighting them or trying to make meaning out of them. You’ve dropped the rope in order to focus on your actual life.

Next up, we’ve got curiosity. Curiosity is your secret weapon in this battle. When you notice that you’re deep in OCD Land, embrace your inner detective and get curious about what’s going on. Ask yourself, “What is happening right now?” Be curious about why you’re ritualizing. Reflect on what you’re hoping these compulsions will achieve. If you’re avoiding something, be curious about what you are afraid of experiencing. This might seem counterintuitive– you might think, “Caryn, I’m already overthinking everything!” But curiosity is actually different than overthinking. Curiosity implies a spirit of openness and observation instead of frantic reactivity. By being curious about your experiences, you can gain valuable insights that can guide your actions and help you navigate more towards your values.

Now, let’s talk about committed action. Committed action means taking deliberate steps, no matter how small, towards what truly matters to you. It’s about making choices and engaging in behaviors that are in line with your values, even when those scary and urgent thoughts try to convince you otherwise. It can look like taking a deep breath before yelling. It can look like setting boundaries with others. Committed Action could look like getting out of bed when you don’t want to, or going to sleep early instead of doom-scrolling another night. From an OCD perspective, it can look like waiting five more minutes before doing a ritual. It can look like asking your loved ones to tell you about their day instead of asking them for reassurance. It can look like saying “yes” when OCD is screaming at you to run away. By embracing willingness and curiosity, you harness the power to resist those urges and take committed action towards your reclaimed life.

So, how can you apply all this in your daily life? Start by getting clear on your values—what truly matters to you? What kind of life do you want to create? Once you have that clarity, take small steps, one at a time, towards living in alignment with those values. Embrace the discomfort with curiosity and willingness, and respond with actions that reflect who you truly are and the kind of life you really want.

Remember, you’re not alone on this journey. Seek support from loved ones, therapists, or online communities that understand what you’re going through.

And if you’re looking for more guidance and practical tips, make sure to check out my Instagram page (@therapist.caryn) and sign up for my email newsletter. My first email freebie is all about values, so if you’re looking for another tool to help you break free from OCD, I invite you to join the email newsletter list!

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