Tuesday, June 2, 2009

OCD and the Anxiety of Waiting

A dear friend of mine recently had to go for a medical test. She was pretty nervous in the days leading up to it, and near terrified about getting the results. This is a common scenario for many people, and not just those with OCD. Also, it is not just waiting for medical tests – waiting for just about anything can be an anxiety provoking experience. Whether it is an important date, phone call, or an upcoming event, waiting generally increases excitement, and can increase anxiety as well.

If a person who is waiting for an upcoming event feels good about it and has a good picture of the future, then I would encourage that way of thinking. I want to discuss the terrified people, when OCD and all the other nasty stuff kick in.

For a person with OCD (or many others for that matter,) waiting can be like torture. All kinds of thoughts can intrude on a person’s mind about the future, and people may find themselves mentally transported to the future and involved in various scenarios. Some of them can be terrifying, especially if the person is currently experiencing anxiety. Waiting can turn into a frustrating, demoralizing, aggravating, time consuming, and expensive experience. Like Tom Petty says: “The waiting is the hardest part.” I have been a victim of this way of thinking many times, and it always takes a toll, both emotionally and physically.

What we need to remember is that is only our minds thinking up these bad scenarios, and there is no proof that this will be the outcome. We have been tricked by our minds, which have created automatic thought patterns from events in the past, and we are projecting that onto this event and into our future. Why don’t we question our assumptions? Many of us just take them as fact.

We have the power to change the picture…..Visualize a great outcome to whatever it is that we are waiting for. I believe that we should play out the scene in our minds with the intended outcome as much as possible. Perhaps we will help to subconsciously attract the desired result. At any rate, it is much better then living frozen in anxiety.

I’m happy to report that my friend’s test turned out fine. My hope is that everyone out there now has the ability to question their assumptions and to positively anticipate, and turn waiting into a good experience.

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