WDNG: All danger, all the time
In my late twenties, my OCD had become a constant presence in my life:
My life had become all OCD, all the time. Almost like a radio station I was unable to turn down, no matter what I did. All danger, all the time. Your home for the worst-case scenario. All the bad things that could happen to you and the people you love, broadcast uninterrupted, twenty-four hours a day … for your listening hell. My own private radio permanently tuned to the danger station: WDNG. (From Is Fred in the Refrigerator? Taming OCD and Reclaiming My Life pp. 104-105.)
In an ironic twist of fate, a few months ago I determined that things were now reversed, and the news was sounding—uninterrupted, twenty-four hours a day—very much like my OCD did when I was a young adult.
And so I stopped tuning in.
Why? Because I think it’s hard for anyone to listen to all that negativity and not have it affect their mood. I also want to be clear that I’m not avoiding the news because it triggers my OCD, because the majority of the time it doesn’t. And if it did, I’d use that as an opportunity to do exposure and response prevention therapy, ERP, the gold-standard treatment for OCD.
However, the news does reinforce OCD’s twisted view that the world is—across the board—a bad and dangerous place.
As I share in Fred, years ago I decided to do the lifelong exposure of acting as though the universe is friendly, which is the opposite of what OCD wants me to do. (I won’t go in to all the details of how that works here, but if you’re interested see Chapter 15 in Fred.) To reinforce that choice, when I cold turkey stopped looking at the regular news, I instead subscribed to a publication based in the UK called Positive News.
And what a difference it has made in how I see the world.
Positive News: a focus on the good
The stories in Positive News (a screenshot from their newsletter to the right) focus on how people around the world are working together to discover and implement innovative solutions to the challenges we face. Recent articles have included “urban cowboys tackling gun crime” in Philadelphia, “the man filling the City with working-class stars” in London, and “growing green cities: the Dutch expo that shows you how” in the Netherlands.
In the past after reading the mainstream news, I would always feel like the world was perhaps one crisis away from global annihilation. In contrast, after I started reading Positive News, I began to feel as if the opposite might be true: that even though we have challenges, people everywhere are devoting their lives to trying to address them, and we are making progress.
Further, because I’ve been reading Positive News frequently, my focus has been shifting from worrying about crises over which I have no control to the fact that people around the world are doing good things. They are resourceful, they are rising to the challenges they face, and they are making a difference in ways big and small.
For me, this shift in focus has weakened OCD’s warped outlook and strengthened my more helpful view that the universe is friendly, providing an even stronger foundation for my OCD recovery.
If you, too, feel that the news sounds a bit too much like your OCD and you’d like to shift your perspective, maybe you could join me as a Positive News subscriber and/or financially support their efforts to create “journalism that inspires.”
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My blogs 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!