Imagine that anytime you go anywhere, there are crowds of people yelling “BOOOOOOOOO!,” screaming what a horrible person you are, and holding up signs announcing every little thing you’ve ever done wrong. Somehow, these cruel people also manage to find you when you’re alone at work or at home, and they silently torture you with a scrolling mental newsfeed highlighting all the reasons you’re a rotten, horrid person.

Sounds horrific, right?

Escaping the nursery of nonstop negativity.The nursery of nonstop negativity

This is what life feels like at times for many of us with OCD, even after you’ve done ERP. I jokingly call it the nursery of nonstop negativity, although it’s anything but funny. These voices belong to OCD, our critical selves, depression, and/or co-occurring anxiety or OCD-related disorders, and they can be incredibly persistent, constantly berating us, finding everything wrong with our lives, and telling us how we are the truly bad people of society.

It’s no wonder many of us with OCD and related disorders become people pleasers, as hearing from someone—anyone!—that you did a good job directly counteracts all the negativity you hear in your mind.

Turn down the negativity volume

You may have found that if you focus on the voices of negativity, they only get louder: “Hey! She’s paying attention to us! Let’s tell her what we really think!” Mindfulness can turn down the volume on all this nefarious chatter, because if you pay attention to the life in front of you, you aren’t focusing your attention on the abuse coming from the mental nursery. However, if you’ve listened to these voices long enough, even if you stop hearing or paying attention to them for a time, their effect can linger, and you can end up believing you’re rotten and deserve this type of abuse.

You deserve better!

So let me be very clear: you do not deserve any of this. The nursery of nonstop negativity is all wrong about you, but it’s going to take mindfulness (to help you focus on what’s going on in front of you, not what’s in your head) and self-compassion (to help you see that you are a person worthy of compassion and kindness) to help you believe that.

Replace the negativity with self-compassion

If what I’ve described above resonates with you, take a few moments to read one of the resources below about self-compassion and commit to learning how to treat yourself more kindly. I’ve found that when I make a solid commitment to focus on what’s happening in front of me and to treat myself better, I start to feel better because I stop both listening to and believing the nursery of nonstop negativity.

It’s hard to enjoy your life if someone’s yelling at you all the time, especially if that “person” is in your own mind. But incorporating self-compassion into your life—sometimes daily, sometimes hourly, sometimes on a moment by moment basis—can help you believe that you are the good person who you truly are.*

Blogs and Handouts

Books

*P.S. If your OCD just said, “She’s talking about everybody but YOU, because you’re horrible!” that’s so predictable, right? Tell your OCD from me (with a few choices swear words) that it probably won’t like self-compassion, so it will be an exposure, which is just more reason you’re going to do it!

Learn more about taming OCD

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FredTalks are not a replacement for therapy, and I encourage all readers who have obsessive compulsive disorder to find a competent ERP therapist. See the IOCDF treatment provider database for a provider near you. And never give up hope, because you can tame OCD and reclaim your life!

Photo credit © Can Stock Photo / foreverleestock