Reframing Discomfort

2 min readOct 15, 2023

Resisting an urge to do OCD can feel impossible. But you can turn that discomfort into a motivator.

If you work out at a gym, or do any form of exercise, you’re familiar with the discomfort you need to gain strength and endurance. In yoga, we can learn to dwell in this discomfort, knowing that it’s a sign that we are doing the right thing to improve our bodies and our minds.

Just like in exercise, you can reframe the feelings of discomfort brought on by cravings or unfulfilled OCD urges. These uncomfortable or distressing feelings can be enjoyed as signs that you are doing what you need to do to make progress.

For me in yoga, a big challenge is flexibility–standing and bending forward to rest my hands on the ground. I could push myself until I was in pain, but that’s not helpful. What is helpful is allowing myself to rest in the discomfort, just less than pain. That discomfort is located in exactly the parts of my body that are gaining flexibility. So the sensation is a message that I am making progress toward my goal.

If you delay or avoid giving into an OCD urge, you can welcome the discomfort, even some mental anguish, that comes with it because it’s a signal that instead of the OCD getting its way and getting stronger, you are building and strengthening new and healthier neural pathways. “Am I making progress? Yes! Because I feel the discomfort and I’m allowing it.”

The steps are simple:

  1. Avoid giving in to an OCD urge, like repetitive thoughts or touching.
  2. Seek out and feel the uncomfortable sensations that arise. Locate them in your body if you can and breathe into them.
  3. Be grateful for this discomfort that is signaling progress.

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Essays, stories & poetry about OCD, culture and society, by Eric. OCD-Free the book: