The Zen Library Blog

How I overcame OCD by surrendering

Monday 26th October 2020

As much as we would like to, we cannot control life. What we can do is go with the flow of the world around us.

In fact, when we try to control what happens to us, we end up getting more and more frustrated, tense and anxious because we are blocking the flow of life. Now - I used to believe in controlling my reactions, my mind and in doing so, I stopped myself from connecting with the deepest aspects of myself. I did this unconsciously for years and I didn't even realise why I had so many problems with being myself. Truth be told, I was acting in accordance with what I had deemed to be an unsafe environment. Even though they did their very best, my parents had a very toxic relationship and my way of dealing with it was to not be myself for fear of upsetting either or both of them. Conforming, accepting and doing what I was told seemed to be the better option for all involved. 

I learned the hard way that this was very unhealthy. This contributed greatly to OCD anxiety. The anxiety I used to experience was so overwhelming that performing compulsions seemed like the logical thing to do in such a volatile environment. The onset of my symptoms started when I was around 14 years old. This is typical for a lot of children who seem to start displaying OCD tendencies between the ages of 10 and 14 years, sometimes even younger depending on the severity of the case. I wasn't even aware this behaviour was called OCD. I just felt 'odd', like there was something wrong with me and I had to keep myself hidden for fear of being 'found out.' 

Primary school was awful for me. I hated it so much to the point that I couldn't even eat breakfast in the mornings. The feelings of defectiveness I was experiencing grew more and more as I came last in just about everything I could think of. My anxiety was so bad as a child I could barely concentrate so it was no wonder I failed my 11+ spectacularly. I hadn't a mission while I was in that negative emotional state. At that point, I felt like a huge failure. It wasn't until I went to secondary school that I started to improve in my subjects and I began enjoying life. I loved the arts and history, music and english literature was what I loved the most. The only problem was I was now pushing myself into overdrive and excelling so quickly that I didn't know how to take my foot off the accelerator. 

Anger was what was driving me all those years. I didn't have a voice, I didn't feel heard and I fought back as hard as I could until I could be heard. The only problem was - the anger that was driving me was also fuelling my insatiable urges to self-sabotage because - I felt I couldn't be myself, even with everything I had achieved by the time I was doing my A-Levels. The problem was - I didn't feel safe within my own body and no amount of achieving would ever heal that. I was unable to feel how I knew I could and how I wanted to. I just couldn't let go, no matter what I did.

Surrendering was what I needed to do but it took years and years before I could even contemplate letting go. 

Who would I be if I let go? 

Would I be a failure? 

Would people see through me? 

Will I be safe? 

Will people like the real me? 

What would happen?

The only thing that did happen was that I started to enjoy life more and I wasn't so stressed and anxious. I actually started to do things for me rather than be a people pleaser. Surrendering came about by realising that I mattered and that I didn't need to sacrifice my true self to please or to be accepted by the people around me. I had surrendered to my own needs and wishes for the first time in years. That felt very weird! I just wasn't used to putting my own needs first. Now that I have, I feel like I have so much more to give. 

Surrendering wasn't easy and it is challenging even now to give myself the space and self-care that I deserve but I am getting there slowly. I never wanted to accept OCD as a life long illness and keeping that as my mindset, enabled me to look for a solution that would work for me. I am really glad that I trained as a cognitive hypnotherapist with the Quest Institute as we work with the individual. As therapists, we realise that every client has arrived at their issue from their own unique experiences and we work on the the premise that all behaviour has a positive intention. 

For me, my years of anger gave me the strength to fight back (which was the positive intention of the behaviour) but when I didn't deal with the anger, it became toxic and started to limit my ability to take life easy, to enjoy the world and to live a life that makes me happy. It contributed to OCD as a vicious voice in my head which told me to limit myself and to not do what makes me happy. Not believing I mattered, of course I was going to listen to OCD.

Realising something so simple changed my life in amazing ways - I matter. Something which I didn't recognise in myself as an issue. I just saw myself as being there for people around me. Self-care didn't come into it.

Since these revelations, I have managed to reduce 90% of my obsessions and compulsions which I never thought would happen. I now work as a cognitive hypnotherapist working with clients who are struggling with OCD issues. I would love to help you feel the same relief from anxiety.  

© Christina McDonald 2020.

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