Who Are You?

You are not your name; if you change your name you will still be you. You don’t become someone else when you change your job, so you are not your job. You are not your hobbies, likes or interests; it’s likely that those have changed since childhood, without eliminating you. You are not your political ideology or your beliefs, even your religious beliefs; you exist independent of them. When you look in a mirror, that’s not you either: your body ages but still you remain you. And you are not your OCD.

It is tragically limiting to identify your self with a mental illness, a mindset, fears or painful thoughts. Once you separate your true self from OCD or intrusive thoughts, it will be much easier to let them go. Once you accept deep down that you do not need OCD in order to keep being you, it’s like turning a corner and it becomes possible to leave the OCD behind.

The more you untangle your sense of self from physical and mental quirks and attributes, from environmental conditions and all of the drama of life, you have access to all of the power that was tied up in those false beliefs about what makes you you. And you can use that power to create the life that you want.

Picture being free to give 100% of your attention to the present moment, with none of your energy tied up in fear or worry. When you talk to a friend, you could be fully engaged and present with them. At your job, or out in nature … you can experience life to the fullest, living in joyful appreciation, and expressing your unlimited creative potential.

It takes time, and it may be an evolutionary journey without a definite end in this life. There are many techniques that can help you along this path. Here are a few:

Meditation. If you’re already meditating, keep at it. The more the better. If you do not believe that you can meditate (and this is a false belief), start with 30-second meditations, either counting your breaths or mentally repeating a mantra like “Om.” This practice helps liberate you, step by step, from your hyperactive thoughts. It’s like any workout — you need to keep practicing to make progress, but it’s amazingly worth it.

Some thought tricks are useful:

  • When you have an undesirable thought you can counter with, “This unpleasant thought is unnecessary.”
  • When you feel sad or exasperated, you can think, “This is something I have to let go of,” and feel the relief.
  • When you think negative thoughts, catastrophize or spin out of control, you can ask, “Am I this thought, or am I the one who is aware of this thought?”
  • You can bring yourself to the present moment (the only moment that really exists) by looking around your surroundings and noticing what you see, hear, feel or smell.

You can also utilize basic qigong movements to calm and center yourself in order to get back to an understanding that you are you, not your thoughts or circumstances. One easy qigong move are gentle arm lifts: Breath in slowly while raising your outstretched arms to chest height and breath out while lowering them. You can rise up on the balls of your feet on the way up, though it’s not crucial to do so. Do this several times to calm yourself and dissipate panic.

All of these are methods to step back from the thought that is not serving you. Then you can observe that thought, notice emotions tied to or created by that thought, and let them go; they are not who you are.

Your life will improve as you become more aware of who you are and who you are not. You do not need to flush away all beliefs or relationships. Just know that you are more than your roles in society, your affinities and yes, your OCD. As you feel more yourself, you will know that you will remain unblemished when you let your OCD go.

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OCD-Free

OCD-Free

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Essays, stories & poetry about OCD, culture and society, by Eric