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RealSupport, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
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Experience:  MHT-MHRS-MS-MA Integral Psychotherapist & Life Coach
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I am a 50 yr old man who has pastored 3 churches in the

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I am a 50 yr old man who has pastored 3 churches in the past, been a Christian since 1986 and has had no problems studying scriptures and doing ministry work.i have mild ocd and have been on Prozac for over ten years, but lately my sinuses have been
blocked up pretty bad and allergies and when I try to think on the things about the lord these confusing rapid fire thoughts about God and how he leads us ....on and on it gets quite anxious ! the more I try to push these confusing thoughts away the more they
persist and cause me more anxiety You see my dilemma its my lifes work and I realize these are stupid thoughts are irrational ,but when they come i'll try to reason them away which only worsens the problem! They come back stronger and bring their bros, and
sisters with them.Any advice on how to overcome these thoughts and the feelings of anxiety that comes with it would be welcomed greatly!!
I am very sorry to know about this very frustrating situation. OCD, even more when present for so many years, tends to gets worse without adequate regular psychotherapeutic support. Medication could numb anxiety and make symptoms more manageable, but it cannot touch the OCD, the core issues behind it, nor the way we react and cope with it. These is all about behaviors from thinking, to beliefs and emotional reactions, rather than how much a substance blocks our sensitivity to perceive the anxiety or other negative feelings we may experience.
It was very graphic the way you described how OCD about God's will, impact you, and I can say that I can understand your situation, but only you know how overwhelming it could get, once it is about one of the most important aspects of your life, your faith and your job.
You said that trying to reason and pushing these irrational thoughts away, just makes it worse, and they literally retaliate bringing their siblings to make things just worse! This is the very way OCD works and gets perpetuated. OCD tries to fool you with the very things that you care the most about, uses your fears and past experiences, any material from your past and mind that it could use to fuel further anxiety and perpetuate its existence. This is what makes of OCD so challenging and most times overwhelming for people who suffer it, since they find themselves literally violated or assaulted by the tenor of the fears and conflicts OCD creates and triggers. It looks for what could be the biggest vulnerabilities in the person's mind and goes for it with full strength, and as soon as it gets the person engaged with obsessive fear and compulsive reaction, it gets reinforced and becomes stronger and stronger.
Then how to cope with it in ways not to reinforce it, but to control and weaken it? Imagine your OCD is like a spoiled child acting out. He does his drama in front of you because he knows that by doing it, he would get your attention, could make you feel nervous, upset, uneasy and very probably push you to let him do whatever he wants. He has learned how to manipulate you, and based on past experiences, he would use everything he gets about your feelings, beliefs and fears, to get what he wants.
How could you stop this? Like with every spoiled child, the first think you need to work on is to stay calm, keep your cool, without engaging in the drama, since that's what he's looking for. He knows that once you get nervous, reactive about it, he got half his way conquered and everything else is just about pushing you a little more.
Let's say that this child does start bothering the mother about going outdoors to play late at night, and that he is not willing to take the initial "no" as an answer. Then he starts raising his voice, showing more emotions, sadness, frustration, desperation, asking the mother to please let him go, because of this and that. The mother keeps saying no but gets more and more nervous, could feel guilty, since the child literally tells her how good she is loving him when letting him play and be happy with neighbors, or how mean and unloving she is getting when dismissing his feelings and need for fun after complying with all his homework and more.
For an objective observer, this scenario, what is going on here could be very clear, but for the concerned and stressed mother, who feels just very tired by many life responsibilities and concerns, who happened to have a very restrictive and authoritarian mother, who never allowed her to enjoy herself, play and have fun without feeling bad about it, because of the different feelings and issues she projected on her. There could be tons of good reasons that could explain why these dynamics unfold the way they do, and why the parent feels this way and gets trapped every time the child acts out. reality is that the child happens to manipulate the mother, gets his will, and the mother could feel some relief for not having him pushing her more and more, using further psycho-emotional manipulation.
But what happens when the father, who has a very different personality and background gets back home? This very spoiled child behaves! Why? Because he does know very well that his father would set and keep boundaries, solid discipline and would not tolerate any form of manipulation, since he knows his game very well.
The spoiled child knows that it would be useless acting out in front of his father, that it would not only be hopeless but counterproductive, since his father would immediately confirm rules, set consequences and reinforce sound discipline, and he does not want to afford getting extra work for sure, besides of not getting any ego-pleasing gain from it.
While the mother would argue, yell back, cry and ask the child to calm down and obey, ending by letting him do his will; the father will stick to boundaries and limits, remind the child once or twice what the rules and consequences are, and the situation would not escalate to a drama for sure, because the child knows that no manipulation would work with the father, he would not take it, and consequences will follow if he tries.
I invite you to reflect on this. you already know this spoiled child very well for years, and he would not just stop doing his thing because you tell him to stop. He's been spoiled for years, anxiety, fear and emotions are his fuel, he would not change that easy, he has to relearn how to behave; but it does not mean you have to continue to suffer and take the manipulation and the whole drama. He would learn that now his mother, just as his father, would not engage in enabling neither allowing any further lack of respect, yelling or manipulation.
He would get grounded for sure, send to take time away at his room with no games or TV, not allowed to go outdoors during the day or weekends, and many other gradual and consistent consequences in case he refuses to comply with the rules.
The mother would learn how not to argue but to just remind his child once or twice, no more, about things, duties, responsibilities and consequences, and would not waste more time repeating the same or trying to argue and convince the spoiled child, since he would need time to come to terms with the fact that his mother has effectively changed, that his hopes for further manipulation would not see it happening again, he would push and do everything in his power to push her, to "make her feel" the way he wants, for her to fall and please or obey him out of fear, tiredness, desperation, or stress.
You know very well about your faith and how to do a great job, you got 26 + years of experience doing it, thus you'd approach this spoiled child of OCD with a very simple, consistent and effective strategy, dismissing the drama. You could listen, acknowledge the OCD_spoiled child's requests - statements, but you would confront them with simple and brief insight you have from life experience. One minute would be more than enough for you to remind him about reality, healthy discipline and rules. Then you would refocus on your "real" life, on doing your tasks, using your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual bodies the way you truly need and want, for you to continue to create and promote the meaning, fulfillment, happiness, peace and growth you need, want and deserve. The spoiled child would learn things have radically change. By the beginning he would doubt it, and would push more than ever, but with a few weeks, he would know that there is no way he could effectively continue to manipulate you anymore, and would change his ways, adjust himself in order to survive.
OCD is distorted anxiety, distorted thinking and feeling, reacting and doing. Anxiety is not bad, as long as regulated, in its right doses and adequate times, it's essential, it allows us to become aware of issues, to address them, to change , cope and grow. You can re-educate your mind and heart, your body to experience it and any other feeling, emotion or sensation in healthy and constructive ways. Just work on developing a simple mind approach and stick to it.
Counseling and psychotherapy are the ideal sources of support for us to work on ourselves. Finding a competent, ethical, experienced professional is not easy most of the times, even to find one without more serious mental and personality issues than ourselves, but it is necessary and worthy. I invite you to consider this possibility.
I hope this make sense. Thank you for your trust and please feel free to contact me back for any further support. Take gentle care and consistent action.
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