There is a very interesting exercise that is sometimes played in psychology classes. It goes something like this:
- Imagine a pink elephant and then
- Try not think about the pink elephant for as long as you can…
Are you still thinking about the pink elephant or have you managed to erase it from your mind ? You could try this with any other unusual thing, object or animal. The interesting thing is that not wanting to think about something sometimes leads to an increased number of thoughts about that same something. This is called a brain paradox.
So no matter how much power and strength you put into not wanting your brain to think about something, the most likely effect is that it will only increase the frequency of those same thoughts.
How does this apply to ROCD sufferers?
In my opinion, trying to get rid of ROCD thoughts is not the best strategy and shouldn’t be the end goal. A much better strategy is to leave the thoughts alone, not giving them much importance. Accepting that they are there, not pushing them away and most importantly not engage with them. They are just thoughts not facts.The likelihood is that they will disappear by themselves. It is calculated that we have roughly 4,000 different thoughts a day. But we seem to get stuck in that ONE thought that causes all our anxiety and problems. That is the “O” in ROCD – obsessive.